CAT normalisation: A formula kept secret by IIMs
Updated on Nov 22, 2016 - 11:16 a.m. IST by Team Careers360
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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.


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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Questions related to CAT

Showing 7966 out of 7966 Questions

Hi, can you suggest me the best colleges at 84.58 percentile in CAT. Im a female, non engineer, general category aspirant. My score in 10th/12th/Grad : 8.2 CGPA/89%/7.2 CGPA

Sampriti Student Expert 22nd Jan, 2020
You have a pretty decent CAT percentile and hence you should check out these colleges.
  • LBSIM Delhi
  • LIBA Chennai
  • BIM Trichy
  • BIMTECH Noida
  • XISS Ranchi
  • XIME Bangalore
  • KMT Nagpur and Hyderabad campuses

They are very good colleges with good placements and great ROI.You can easily get an average compensation package of 7-8 lakhs.

Good Luck

when can we give CAT exams?? when should we start preparations for CAT exams??

Priyaanka Sarkar Student Expert 21st Jan, 2020
Arpita, CAT exam is usually held every year tentatively in the month of November and the results are announced in the month of January. With all the 20 IIMs conducting their admissions based on CAT score, no time is early for CAT preparation. Unless you score 95 percentile and above, it is difficult for admission in IIMs. CAT is an online examination of 3 hours duration.The questions in the exam will be of MCQ and TITA type totaling 100 questions. MCQ are multiple choice questions, for which candidates get multiple answer choices. Each Question has 3 marks and a wrong answer takes away 1 mark. However Type in the Answer questions are exempted from Negative Marking.

CAT exam paper can be Categorised into 3 parts:

Quantitative Ability
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.

which mba colleges are best suited for 84 percentile in cat 2019?

Sampriti Student Expert 21st Jan, 2020
You have a pretty good CAT percentile and you can easily get a call from some of the best B schools in the country like
  • LIBA Chennai
  • BIM Trichy
  • XISS Ranchi
  • XIME Bangalore
  • BIMTECH Noida
  • IMT Nagpur and Hyderabad campuses
  • ICFAI Business School Hyderabad and other campuses
  • IFMR Chennai and other colleges

All these colleges are equally good in terms of industry reputation and placements. But if you're interested in marketing or finance you should go for BIMTECH, ICFAI and IMT campuses and BIM. They are the best in this list. But if you're planning to study Human Resource then XISS and LIBA would be the best option. All the colleges provide good ROI and you can easily get an average compensation package of 7-8 lakhs from these colleges.

Good Luck

sir my jee main percentile in jan exam is 85.4059364. can I get admission in NIT. I m in Gen cat

Sunil Kumar singh 21st Jan, 2020

Hi dear,

You have got 85.4059364 percentile in JEE main that means your rank should be 126875. This rank can increase in number of student in april month will increase. You can also calculate your rank as

Rank=(100-your percentile)×869010÷100

With this rank you have very low chance to get any NITs as you belong from general category. You can predict your college here

Hope it helps


Which is the best academy to take cat coaching in India, both online and offline...

Sampriti Student Expert 21st Jan, 2020
You can join either TIME or Carrer Launcher. Both of them are equally good in terms of faculty and study materials. IMS is also pretty good and comes right after these two. All of them have good success rate. All of them usually charge above 40000 as the course fee.

But if you don't want to invest such a huge amount of money you can study from various books available in market like Arun Sharma and Sarvesh Verma for quantitative aptitude and magazines like The Economist and TIME and TOI newspaper for the English portion. Along with that do buy the mock test series from the above Institutes which will give you a good knowledge of all the kinds of questions generally asked in CAT,XAT or other exams.

All the very best
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