How to Interpret Your CAT Score

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Wondering how to interpret your CAT score? You’re not alone. More than 200,000 students registered for the test in 2015, and it can be difficult to interpret your results. First of all, breathe a big sigh of relief—you’ve successfully completed the examination! Next, get out those score sheets, and let’s take a look at what you can expect to find there.

Composite Scores: How to Interpret Your CAT Score

On your CAT exam results, the first thing you’ll probably notice is the composite score. By “composite,” we mean “overall.” When test-takers reference their CAT scores, this is generally what they’re referring to. CAT scores go up to 300, though scores over 200 are very rare. Using 2015 as an example, we can see that a score above 140 put students in the 95 percentile (more on what this means in a moment). A score above 170 would have placed them in the 99 percentile—very competitive indeed!

In-Section Scores: How to Interpret Your CAT Score

As you saw on test day, the CAT has three sections:

  • Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
  • Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning
  • Quantitative Ability
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    The first and last sections have 34 questions each, and the second section has 32 questions. Your CAT score sheet should give you a breakdown of your “raw” score. That’s the number of questions you answered correctly within each section. After that, the testmaker will have computed your scaled score, which takes into account their particular grading scale. On the CAT, this amounts to +3 points for each multiple-choice question or type-in-the-answer question you got right and -1 point for each multiple-choice question you got wrong. If you skipped any question, or if you got a type-in-the-answer question wrong, you won’t have lost any points for that.

    Percentiles: How to Interpret Your CAT Score

    Finally, your CAT score sheet will contain your percentile—both overall and in-section. Percentiles tell us the percentage of test-takers who received a lower score than you on the test. If you scored in the 99 percentile, you have a higher score than 99% of test takers. This also applies within each section. Generally, IIMs like to see relatively even percentiles across all three sections in addition to a high composite percentile. This shows them that you have a well-rounded knowledge base.

    No matter what, congratulations on finishing the exam. If you’re pleased with your results, excellent! If you’re not, don’t worry. IIMs take many factors into consideration when evaluating students for admission, and CAT scores are just one piece of the puzzle. Best of luck to everyone!

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