How Many CAT Questions Should I Attempt to Score Within the 99.5 Percentile?

How many CAT questions should I attempt to score within the 99.5 percentile?-magoosh

How many CAT questions should I attempt to score within the 99.5 percentile? It can vary from 65 to 97. Image by geralt.

If you’re asking “How many CAT questions should I attempt to score within the 99.5 percentile,” chances are that you’re setting very high goals for yourself. That’s great, but don’t be too hard on yourself! While rumors abound about Indian Institutes of Management only accepting students in the very top percentiles, the truth is that they accept students from a variety of score ranges. Still, scoring in the 99.5 percentile will make you a very competitive candidate. Only around a thousand candidates achieved this percentile in 2016, even given record registration numbers for the exam. You’ll need a scaled score of around 195 marks (raw score of around 65 marks) to reach the 99.5 percentile. The number of CAT questions you should attempt to score within this range will depend on your accuracy scores, but will range from 65 to 97.

CAT Scoring: How Many CAT Questions Should I Attempt to Score Within the 99.5 Percentile?

Recent years have shown that students scoring in the 99.5 percentile on the CAT scored around 195 marks out of 300. This equates to answering 65 questions correctly overall out of 100. However, CAT scoring makes this a little trickier. On the CAT, you receive +3 points for each correct multiple choice question (MCQ) and type-in-the-answer question (TITA), -1 point for each incorrect MCQ, and 0 points for incorrect TITAs and any questions left blank. This means that attempting 65 questions would only get you into the 99.5 percentile on the CAT if you answered 100% of them correctly—a feat that nobody should expect of themselves (but if you’re doing it, more power to you!)

With that in mind, let’s take a realistic look at how many questions you should attempt to answer 65 (or more) questions correctly on the CAT, putting you in the 99.5 percentile.

CAT Answer Accuracy: How Many CAT Questions Should I Attempt to Score Within the 99.5 Percentile?

The real answer to the question, “How many CAT questions should I attempt to score within the 99.5 percentile?” is that it depends almost entirely on how accurately you’re answering questions. If you haven’t taken a mock CAT yet,‎ this is a great incentive to do so.

Add up the total questions you got right on the mock exam. Next, add up the total questions you attempted. Divide the number of correct answers by the number of total questions you attempted, then multiply that answer by 100. There’s your accuracy score. For a more accurate accuracy score, examine more than one recent test and average your percentages.

Next, find your accuracy score on the table below. To err on the side of caution, we’re assuming that all questions are multiple-choice, though in reality, they will be a mixture of MCQs and TITAs.

CAT Percentiles: How Many CAT Questions Should I Attempt to Score Within the 99.5 Percentile?

195 total (scaled score) marks needed.

Percentage AccurateOverall Questions AttemptedCorrect AnswersIncorrect Answers
100%65650
95%70673
90%75678
85%816912
80%897118
75%977324

*Scores have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

Notice that, at below 75% accuracy, there aren’t enough questions on the exam to answer to get you into the percentile you need. If this is the case, drill yourself and return to your study materials to review your lowest-accuracy areas and try to pull them up to the mid-80-percent accuracy zone.

A Note on Composite vs. In-Section Scores

For the purposes of this post, we’ve looked at the composite, or overall, CAT score. However, to a certain extent, that composite score will depend on a relatively even distribution of your in-section scores, as well. In this case, scoring 74-75 in Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, around 51 in Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning, and 78-79 in Quantitative Ability (scaled scores) would give you a good chance of landing in the 99.5 percentile. So as you study, make sure you’re not neglecting any one section in favor of the others. High sectional scores are just as important as a high overall score—and may even lead you to the latter!

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