How Many Questions Should I Attempt in CAT 2017?

How Many Questions Should I Attempt in CAT 2017?-magoosh

Students asking “How many questions should I attempt in CAT 2017?” should consider several factors. Image by esifuntaiwan.

As a teacher, it’s really tempting for me to say, “All of them!” when students ask “How many questions should I attempt in CAT 2017?” After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

But actually, this principle doesn’t apply precisely to the CAT. Because of the idiosyncrasies of CAT scoring, it can sometimes be better to skip questions rather than attempt to answer them. Furthermore, the timing of the sections can be tricky for students, as you have 180 minutes to answer 100 questions. That breaks down to less than two minutes per question if you attempt to answer every single one!

In the end, the number of questions you should attempt in CAT 2017 will depend on several individual factors. Let’s take a look at how some of those come into play on the exam.

CAT Scoring Issues

You may already be familiar with how scoring on the CAT works, but let’s review it in case you’re not. The CAT is comprised of both multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and “type in the answer” questions (TITAs). This is true of all sections, including the Verbal and Reading Comprehension section. You get +3 points for a correct answer on all items. On wrong MCQs, you lose -1 point. On blank MCQs, you neither gain nor lose points. This is true both of incorrect and blank TITAs, as well.

What does that mean for you as a test-taker? Answer all TITAs, even if you have no idea what the correct answer is! Eliminate what you can and then pick your favorite answer from the remaining choices. It can’t hurt your score—while blind guessing on the MCQs can and will hurt your score. If you can eliminate at least one answer choice (or preferable more), though, it’s statistically in your favor to guess on the MCQs.

Setting CAT Goals

As you take CAT mock tests, it’s important to take note of how many questions you’re answering correctly per section. Why? This tells us how many questions you should answer on the official exam. Depending on what your score goals are, the number of questions you should attempt will depend on the percentage of questions you get correct. For example, India Today published the following numbers that they claim would put students within the 95 percentile on the 2015 CAT:

 Number of Questions to AttemptTotal Number of QuestionsPercent of Questions Attempted that You Answer Correctly
Verbal and Reading Comprehension23-243480%
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning16-173290%
Quantitative Ability19-203485%

Overall, that’s 58 and 61 questions attempted on the entire exam (out of 100).

But what if your goal is different? We’ve compiled some numbers from experts around the web and our own experience to give you a rough idea of the number of questions you should attempt in CAT 2017. Note that if your percentage accurate is higher, you’ll need to attempt slightly fewer questions. If your percentage accurate is lower, you’ll need to attempt more questions to gain your ideal score.

How Many Questions Should I Attempt in CAT 2017?

 IIM Minimum Cut-Offs95%99%+
Composite ScoreWill Vary by School140+150-170+
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Questions Attempted17-18 at 80% accuracy23-24 at 80% accuracy28-30 at 80% accuracy
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning Questions Attempted10-11 at 90% accuracy16-17 at 90% accuracy24-26 at 90% accuracy
Quantitative Ability Questions Attempted14-15 at 85% accuracy19-20 at 85% accuracy32 at 90% accuracy

A (Few) Last Word(s)

By taking at least three practice exams before attempting the official test, you’ll have a much better chance of understanding how many questions you should attempt. Particularly if you’re consistently short of time, this can help you master the CAT. On the other hand, don’t limit yourself! As you take the official CAT exam, the best thing you can do is answer all the questions in subject areas in which you’re comfortable.

Working on your timing during your preparation can really help with this. One way to hone your timing is to work on drills of 10 questions each. Begin by giving yourself an unlimited amount of time to answer the ten questions, but time yourself as you go. How long, on average, did it take you to answer the questions? How far over the average of 1.8 minutes per question (1:48, though 1:30 is better, given the computer’s loading times) did you take? Next, evaluate the percent of questions you answered accurately. Repeat this with a second set of drills, but shave ten seconds off the total time you took on the first set. Continue repeating this process until you can answer your ideal number of questions within 1:30.

In the end, the teacher in me wins when giving you advice: On the official exam, answer as many questions as you can. Just make sure that you can eliminate at least one wrong answer choice (preferably more) on MCQs, and go for it anyway on TITAs. Do your best, and you’ll see exactly how your practice has paid off!

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