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Right after taking CAT, candidates worry whether they would secure the requisite percentile, which is primarily the cutoff considered by IIMs and other top B-schools for the next rounds of the selection procedure. If you have already appeared for CAT, you must be wondering what would be the cutoff this year and whether you would be among the chosen few by IIMs and other top B-schools. Apart from knowing the cutoff percentile, you should also know the factors or criteria which influence the actual cutoff percentiles. This article of Careers360 brings you the factors that influence CAT cutoff for MBA admissions.
Although IIMs announce the cutoff percentile for admission even before the CAT is conducted, they often change it based on various parameters.
Few factors which influence the CAT cutoff are listed below:
Difficulty level of questions
Number of test takers
Total number of seats
Let us now assess each of the criterion which impacts the CAT cutoff percentile for IIMs or other top B-schools.
The difficulty level and the cutoff score are inversely proportional. If CAT paper is comparably tougher than the previous year, the cutoff will be lower and vice-versa. Here, the cutoff is not in terms of percentile, but in terms of score which is necessary to obtain 99 percentile, which is the standard cutoff percentile for the old IIMs and top B-schools. As Arks Srinivas, CEO, Vistamind says, “In 2015, getting 180 marks out of 300 resulted in candidates securing 99 percentile. However, due to a little tougher paper this year, it is expected that 165 marks would lead to 99 percentile."
An easy test denotes the percentage of candidates obtaining high score would be more, hence the competition would be higher since the number of candidates vying for admission at a particular cutoff percentile would go up. Similarly, when the test is of high difficulty level, the number of candidates vying for a seat at the same percentile cutoff would be lower as the overall performance level would go down. Hence, to balance ratio of seats and candidates clearing cutoff percentile, the cutoff is increased or decreased accordingly.
The following table brings to you the expected sectional and overall cutoff scores for CAT 2016
Hit Bulls Eye
The number of actual test takers is another parameter which influences the cutoff score or percentile. In case of a higher number of test takers, the cutoff would be high and vice versa. More test takers imply that the number of candidates competing for a seat is higher. Hence, a higher number of test takers along with tougher exam will result in a lower cutoff as well.
According to IIM Bangalore, the exam conducting body for CAT 2016, out of 2,32,434 applicants, around 1.95 lakh candidates actually took the test. In 2015, the number of test takers was 1,79,602 only. Thus, the cutoff may be a little higher for CAT 2016. The following table brings to you the number of test takers and number of applicants over the years.
CAT Number of Application and Actual Test Takers over the past 10 years
No. of Registration
No. of Test Takers
Number of seats
The intake capacity of the B-schools also influences their cutoff percentile. If the number of candidates vying for a seat is more than the previous year, the cutoff will decrease and vice versa. Around 4250 seats are offered by 20 IIMs for the academic year commencing from 2017. On the other hand, the number of CAT 2016 takers is 1.95 lakh. This means, approximately 46 candidates are competing for one seat at IIMs. Last year, the intake for IIMs altogether was around 4230 and the actual number of CAT 2015 takers was 1,79,602. Thus, around 42 candidates were competing for one seat. Since, more candidates are competing for each seat, this may lead to a lower percentile cutoff.
The cutoff percentile also varies according to the category of the candidate. The categories of the candidate are as follows:
Other Backward Classes (OBC)
Scheduled Caste (SC)
Scheduled Tribe (ST)
Person With Disability (PWD) or Differently Abled Persons (DAP)
Based on Gender
The cutoff percentile is highest for the General category followed by OBC-NC, SC, DAP and ST. The IIMs follow the Reservation Criteria as per the Government of India regulation. As much as 27 per cent seats are reserved for the NC-OBC candidates, 15 per cent for SC and 7.5 per cent for ST candidates. Three per cent seats are reserved for PWD or DA category candidates. The three categories of disability are: a) low-vision/blindness, b) hearing impairment, and c) locomotor disability, cerebral palsy.
Most of the IIMs assign specific weight-age based on the female candidates in order to maintain gender diversity at the management classrooms. On the other hand, the transgender category candidates are considered under the OBC-NC category at B-schools like IIM Ahmedabad.
Overall selection criteria
While securing a high percentile may get you shortlisted for the selection rounds at IIMs, there is no assurance that you will convert the call and feature in the merit list. There are several other parameters which are considered by IIMs for the final selection. These factors include CAT score, past academic records (Class X, Class XII and Graduation), work experience, Diversity factors (gender and academic stream) and performance in Writing Ability Test (WAT) and Personal Interview (PI) rounds. The weight-ages assigned to the parameters vary from IIM to IIM.
Hence, there is no assurance that securing 99+ percentile will get you the coveted admission offer letter from IIMs. At the same time, the cutoff percentile may be less than 90 percentile depending on the other criteria mentioned above. For example, the IIM Ahmedabad admission criteria for PGP batch 2016-18 had stated the minimum CAT percentile for the General category candidates to be 90 percentile, which was reduced to 80 percentile after the declaration of result. So if your score is high in the other parameters, you may get selected even if your CAT percentile is low.
IIM Admission Criteria 2017-19
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Dear Akshat, CAT is exclusively conducted by the IIMs. So the selection for admission to any of the 20 IIMs is through CAT exam. Unfortunately no other score except for CAT score is accepted for IIM Ahmedabad. You can check their selection process at:
Dear Sai, IIMs look for Diversity factor in Academics. They have a special rating scale for Professional courses like MBBS,BDS, CA, etc. We shall help you with the admission process of IIM Ahmedabad just as an example to show how does the selection process work. There are 3 sections in CAT: QA, DILR, VRC. IIM A has released its 2019 cut off percentiles. Only those Candidates who have scored this percentiles will be shortlisted for further rounds. The cut offs are as follows:
VRC DILR QA Overall
General 70 70 70 80
OBC-Transgender 65 65 65 75
SC 60 60 60 70
ST 50 50 50 60
PWD 60 60 60 70
PWD-ST 50 50 50 60
On an average IIMs need a cut off 90 percentile and more for admission to their colleges. You can check the complete selection process of IIM A at:
Now based on these cut offs top 5 percentile from each Category will be short listed for WAT and PI. So inorder to be able to score these cut offs, you need to know the exam pattern and marking scheme. CAT exam paper can be Categorised into 3 parts:
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning
The Verbal Ability section and Reading Comprehension has 34 Questions, Data interpretation-Logical Reasoning section has 32 MCQ questions and Quantitative Ability has 34 MCQ questions totalling up to 100 questions. Each Question has 3 marks and a wrong answer takes away 1 mark.
NCERT books will sharpen your basics and you need strong basics for preparing for any entrance examination. Once your basics are in place, because the time period for preparation is quite less, your preparation should be extensive and thorough.
Quantitative Aptitude covers almost 30% of the CAT question paper. QA can be categorised into Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry and Advanced Mathematics. Practise chapter by chapter and develop mental calculations. Like practise more of basic summation, subtraction, fractions and tables. Numbers, Percentage, Profit and Loss, Simple and Compound Interest, Ratio, Proportionality, Time-Distance, Time-Work, Mixtures, Averages, Partnership, Permutation and Combinations, Probability, Set Theory, Progression and Series, Line, Angles, Triangles, Quadrilaterals, Polygon, Circles, Ares, Volume, Height and Distance, Coordinate Geometry, Basic Trigonometry are few important topics.
Because this section involves mathematics and takes most of your time, your focus should be on solving the problems efficiently in the beginning. Even if it takes time, practise upto perfection. Practise as many questions as you can in the conventional way. As and when you get a grip on the subject, you can go for short cuts. Memorise tables, square roots, cube roots, conversion from percent to fraction, etc. Solve sample papers on Mathematics. In the beginning, do not worry about the time it takes. As you practise, you will get the hang of the subject and it will be easier for you.
In Verbal Ability session, command on your English, Grammar, Vocabulary, Understanding of the given paragraph are of more importance. Reading English NewsPaper will also help you in your preparation.
Read articles from time to time. Follow newspapers, magazines, and watch the news channels and browse the internet to keep yourself updated. You will need a lot of reading to help you in the comprehension section. You will need speed to help you in this section and you can achieve that only by thorough practise and reading. Take time to understand the question because most answers are interlinked.
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning needs to be practised as much as possible. Comparison of data, Data Analysis, taking clues, interpreting missing data, coming to conclusions and making future projections will be covered under this Category. The questions here are interlinked and so if you get one formula correct, cracking the next few questions will be easy. So it's important to memorise and practise formulae. You should cover topics like Data tables, Data Charts, Bar Diagrams, Pie Charts, Graphs, Data Comparison and Analysis.
As this is the most tricky section, this needs a lot of practise. Solve as many sample papers as possible to get the hang of the section. Make notes when required. Regular practise can help you understand and solve the questions easily as time goes on.
Overall,once you know the syllabus, it's easier from there on.Go through the previous papers to analyse and prepare a comprehensive plan and set priorities according to the importance of different topics across sections. Customise your own study plan based on your strengths and weaknesses. Gauge your preparation from time to time by taking mock tests. Solve questions to check your levels of preparation but not to set any targets. Remember, its ok to have cheat days and relax. But make sure you have a plan and stick to it for the next few months
We can recommend a few books for you:
NCERT books to cover the basics from 6th to 10th Class
Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Nishit Saxena
Quantitative Aptitude Quantum for CAT by Sarvesh Sharma
How to prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Arun Sharma
Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Exams by Abhijit Guha
You can also download free downloadable e books at:
NIFT has nothing to do with CAT or GAT. Those are the exams for MBA. NIFT is for admission in fashion courses.
The eligibilitiy is just marks of your 10th and intermediate. The main point is the candidate must have qualified both from a recognised board and must be having PCM as the compulsory subject.
The exam has an age limit to be 23 and there is 5 years relaxation for category reserved candidates.
For more information please check the article:-
Hope it helps!
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