How Many CAT Questions Should I Attempt to Score Within the 80 Percentile?

How many CAT questions should I attempt to score within the 80 percentile? -magoosh

How many CAT questions should I attempt to score within the 80 percentile? Between 31 and 92, depending on your accuracy. Image by 3dman_eu.

Test-takers beginning to study for the CAT often wonder about the test’s percentiles. At the moment, you may be asking “How many CAT questions should I attempt to score within the 80 percentile?” Because of the CAT’s unique scoring system and the nature of percentiles, this doesn’t translate into simply answering 80 percent of questions correctly. Instead, because there are wrong-answer penalties, the number of CAT questions you should attempt to score within the 80 percentile will depend on how accurate you are at answering them. Overall, you’ll need to attempt at least 31 and at most 92 questions to hit the 80 percentile, though we’ll get into more detail on narrowing this down based on your test-taking skills.

CAT Scoring: How Many CAT Questions Should I Attempt to Score Within the 80 Percentile?

The CAT exam has 100 questions, each of which is worth a maximum of three points. More specifically, correct answers on Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs) and Type-in-the-Answer Questions (TITAs) will earn you +3 points. On the other hand, incorrect answers to MCQs will lose you -1 point. You won’t lose any points for incorrect answers on TITAs, nor will you lose any points for MCQs you skip altogether.

CAT Answer Accuracy: How Many CAT Questions Should I Attempt to Score Within the 80 Percentile?

To score within the 80 percentile on the CAT, you’ll need a scaled score of 91 (out of a maximum of 300). This translates to 31 questions—but only if you answer every single question you attempt correctly.

Instead of trying to get 100% accuracy on the CAT (an extremely difficult task!), look over your last few CAT exams. Divide the number of questions you got right by the number of questions you attempted to answer. Then, multiply by 100. This is your accuracy score. Cross-reference it with the table below to see how many questions you should attempt to score in the 80 percentile on the CAT.

Notice that you’ll have to have a minimum accuracy score of 50% to score within this percentile—and that’s if you answer 92 questions out of 100! The higher your accuracy score, the fewer questions you’ll need to answer to achieve the 80 percentile.

CAT Percentiles: How Many CAT Questions Should I Attempt to Score Within the 80 Percentile?

91 total (scaled score) marks needed.

Percentage AccurateQuestions AttemptedCorrect AnswersIncorrect Answers
100%31310
95%33312
90%35323
85%38326
75%463412
70%513615
65%573720
60%653926
55%764234
50%924646

*Scores have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

A Note on Composite vs. In-Section Scores

As a final note, remember that while it’s great to reach your goal percentile, IIMs like to a relatively even distribution of points over the three sections. For example, this might mean (scaled) scores of 33, 22, and 36 in the three sections of the CAT for that total of 91. So if your scores are lopsided in favor or against a particular section (and most test-takers’ are), make sure to hone in on your preparation for your weaker sections. By doing so, you’ll be well on your way to placing in the CAT percentile of your dreams!

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