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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.
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.
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.
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?
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