How Many CAT Questions Should I Attempt to Score Within the 90 Percentile?

How Many CAT Questions Should I Attempt to Score Within the 90 Percentile?-magoosh

How many CAT questions should I attempt to score within the 90 percentile? Between 40 and 85, depending on your accuracy. Image by 3dman_eu.

If you look on a lot of CAT message boards and forums, you’ll many different rumors about the CAT. Some good information– but many rumors, too. One of the most pervasive of these is that Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) only accept candidates who score in the upper 90 percentiles. However, if you look at IIMs’ cut-off scores, you’ll see that they consider candidates with a variety of scores and strengths. On the other hand, there’s no question that scoring in a high percentile on the CAT can help give your application an edge. With this in mind, many test-takers approach the test with the goal of scoring in the 90 percentile or above. So if you’re asking, “How many CAT questions should I attempt to score within the 90 percentile?”, let’s take a look at some of the factors affecting the answer. The short answer is between 40 and 85 questions—so as you can see, these individual factors can change a lot!

CAT Scoring: How Many CAT Questions Should I Attempt to Score Within the 90 Percentile?

Let’s quickly review CAT scoring before going any further. There are two types of questions in the three sections of the CAT. These are multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and type-in-the-answer questions (TITAs). The two types of questions are scored slightly differently. In both cases, correct answers will earn you +3 points. On MCQs, though, you lose a point for each wrong answer. You don’t lose points for wrong answers on TITAs, though, or for questions of any kind that you’ve skipped. This means that, even though a scaled score of around 120 will put you in the 90 percentile, getting it isn’t as simple as just answering 40 out of the 100 questions correctly. You also have to take into account the penalties for any wrong answers.

CAT Answer Accuracy: How Many CAT Questions Should I Attempt to Score Within the 90 Percentile?

Your “accuracy score” thus determines how many CAT questions you should attempt to score within the 90 percentile. This isn’t a score that you’ll find on your CAT exam results. Instead, it’s an unofficial number that we’ll derive from your practice exams. Go through your last few exams. Add up all of the questions you answered correctly, then divide that number by the total number of questions you answered. Multiply by 100, and that’s your accuracy score: the percentage of CAT questions you’re currently answering correctly.

Use the table below to see how many questions you’d have to attempt at your current accuracy score to score within the 90 percentile.

CAT Percentiles: How Many CAT Questions Should I Attempt to Score Within the 90 Percentile?

120 total (scaled score) marks needed.

Percentage AccurateQuestions AttemptedCorrect AnswersIncorrect Answers
100%40400
95%43412
90%47425
85%51438
80%554411
75%604515
70%674720
65%754926
60%855132

*Scores have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

**Note that some experts claim it is possible to score within the 90 percentile with a scaled score as low as 110. We have erred on the side of caution in our calculations.

A Note on Composite vs. In-Section Scores

Throughout this post, we’ve discussed your composite, or overall, score on the CAT. It’s good for your application to have an approximately even distribution of marks throughout all three sections, though. To score 120, this might look something like: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, 37; Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning, 32; Quantitative Ability, 51. Most students will have one section that they find much easier or harder than the others; with the right prep, though, you can pull up your scores to fall into the 90 percentile in-section as well as overall.

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