What is the CAT normalisation process? How are CAT takers from different testing slots evaluated? How is raw score of CAT changed into percentile?

Though Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) broadly answer these questions, they keep specifics of the evaluation process confined to themselves only.  Ever since the CAT was introduced in computer based-mode in multi slots in 2009, the evaluation of CAT paper through normalisation has remained a secret with IIMs.


What do IIMs say on CAT evaluation process?


According to CAT officials, “the scores of the candidates are subjected to a process of Normalization. The Normalization process adjusts for location and scale differences of score distributions across different forms. After normalization across different forms, the scores are further normalized across different sections. The scaled scores obtained by this process are converted into percentiles for purposes of shortlisting.”

Further, scaled scores for each section - Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC); Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR); Quantitative Ability (QA) and Total along with the Percentiles are published.


How does CAT Normalisation work?


No authorised explanation of CAT normalisation is available till date.


The CAT normalisation, according to IIMs, is an established practice for comparing candidate scores across multiple Forms and is similar to those being adopted in other large educational selection tests conducted in India, such as Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE).


Yet, none of the experts have been able to decode the secret normalisation formula applied by IIMs for CAT evaluation process. A few domain experts, though, interpret the process; they first put a disclaimer that their logic might not be correct.  Experts suggest that very little information published in this regard by IIMs makes it a mysterious element of CAT as CAT coaching institute T.I.M.E. terms it a “conceptually cryptic statement”.


IIM Ahmedabad alumnus Deepak Mehta who secured 100 Percentile in CAT 2010, before explaining the process on Quora, begins with a disclaimer: “Anything I say would just be an educated guess at best.”


His explanation of CAT normalisation follows here.

Let us start by assuming that the intelligence/capability distribution of the students in all slots is the same. That said, the average score must be the same if the papers were equally easy.

But the actual results are:
Batch 1: average score = 100
Batch 2: average score = 110

Clearly, if we assume both sets of students to be equally intelligent, batch 1 got a tougher paper. So, the marks of all students in batch 1 will be multiplied by 1.1 (110/100) to normalise the scores.

According to him, the case above is a basic case with a strong assumption. “The same would not hold well in real life.” Hence, he adds, the IIMs might be using several other inputs to determine the multiplier including the highest score, top 10 percentile scores, mean, median, standard deviation, lowest score, lowest 10 percentile scores, section wise scores etc.

He, however, adds that there is no validation to any explanation, like his own, unless they (IIMs) voluntarily disclose the methodology.



GATE normalisation details are put on official website. Why don’t IIMs do this?


Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) normalisation is publicly available. The detailed methodology of normalisation process is published on the official website. Ironically, the IIMs, despite claiming that their CAT normalisation process is similar to GATE, don’t publish any specific details on the same. Will IIMs make the normalisation methodology transparent?


Also Read

IIMs! Can you justify non-disclosure clause for CAT?
Release CAT Answer Key and Question Paper for more transparency, demand non-IIMS

IIMs! Don’t use testing partner as shield to evade CAT answer sheet release
SC order strict on release of answer sheet; IIMs remain non-committal on CAT

IIMs must release CAT Question Paper and Keys for transparency, says CAT expert Arks Srinivas

CAT Troubles: Will IIMs address these problem areas bothering CAT takers every year?

CAT 2016


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I have 76% in 10th, 88% in 12th and 80% in graduation. Addition to that i have a 2 years work experience. How MUCH percentile do i need to score in cat to get a call from IIM ABC ?

Harshita Sharan Srivastava Student Expert 30th Mar, 2020

Hello Aspirant,

As per the details provided, you have decent academic record and its really good that you have 2 years of work experience. It'll give you an edge in selection process. Also, if you belong to general category, then to get a call from IIM A,B,C you should focus on getting a minimum of 98 percentile in cat.

All the best


Hlo....mam or sir! Im Rajlaxmi frm Odisha.. How to preparation for CAT ... during bba 2nd yr... how to crack CATexam ..

Prateek Sinha 30th Mar, 2020

Prepare for the syllabus according to the weight age of each section.  Give mock tests and improve upon your timing skills. if you join a coaching class it would be good as you will get a clearer idea.


why these exams are conducting

Aniket Sharma 29th Mar, 2020

hi lramprasad,

CAT is commencing on 25th November in 2020. So it does not need to get postponed/cancel due to corona virus. The situation should get better till November. So, we can't argue why CAT is conducting.

Please elaborate your query and provide more details so that we can help you better!!



Can i apply for MBA at JK Lakhmipat University if i have not given CAT?

Megha 29th Mar, 2020

Hello Abhishek !

Yes ,you can apply at JK Lakhmipat University if you have not given CAT , because as per their eligibility criteria for getting admission their the candidates must have appeared in CAT/MAT/ATMA/XAT/CMAT or any other national level entrance test.

In case the candidate has not appeared for any of the mentioned tests, they will have to appear in the JKLU Management Entrance Test (MET) to qualify for the programme.

So, you can apply there by appearing in their Entrance test.

Hope it helps !


What is the CAT exam pattern ?

Aashima Puri 29th Mar, 2020

Hello aspirant, hope you are doing well!

CAT ( Common admission test) is a very reputed entrance exam conducted by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) for admissions into various colleges for MBA. The duration of the exam is 3 hours for all the categories and 4 hours for the PwD category. The sectional duration for each section is 60 minutes each whereas it is 80 minutes for the candidates of the PwD category.

The total number of questions asked in the entrance exam are 100. It is a computer based examination.

Candidates lose 1 mark for each incorrect answer and gain 3 marks for every correct answer. No marks are deducted for the questions which the candidate didn't attempt.

The examination consists of 3 sections namely - Quantitative ability , Data interpretation & logical reasoning and Verbal ability and reading comprehension. These sections consists of 34,32 and 34 questions each respectively.

The candidates are not allowed to switch between the sections. He/she can move to the next section only after attempting the previous section which he/she was completing. Though, the candidates are allowed to switch between questions within the same section.

These were some of the main points to be kept in mind for the CAT exam.

Further you can go through this link to know everything about CAT exam. https://www.google.com/amp/s/bschool.careers360.com/articles/cat-exam-pattern/amp

Hope it helps! All the very best for your future endeavours!

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