As Indian higher education becomes more and more competitive, the top business schools need to keep up with the pace. As a result, the selection criteria are becoming more stringent by the day. Indian college admission exams are known to be some of the toughest in the world, with the notorious JEE taking precedence amongst them all.
What Is The CAT Exam?
The Common Admission Test, more commonly known as the CAT exam, is one of the biggest and most popular exams in India, at the post-graduation level. It is a 3 hour long, online computer-based exam and is required for most graduate management courses in elite institutions across the country. Although originally introduced by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), now other top institutions such as the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), amongst others, have also adopted it as a criterion for admission to their postgraduate management courses. The various IIMs take turns to set the paper for and conduct the CAT exam. The Joint Management Entrance Test (JMET), which was used for this purpose previously, has thus been retired.
What Are The Sections In The Exam?
The CAT exam, unlike most other graduate management entrance exams tests, skills under five sections instead of four, as detailed below:
- Quantitative Ability (QA)
- Reading Comprehension (RC)
- Verbal Ability (VA)
- Logical Reasoning (LR)
- Data Interpretation (DI)
Correct answers earn the candidate +3 marks, whereas incorrect answers result in a loss of 1 mark. Unattempted questions do not have any negative marking.
These sections, especially the fact that the CAT has the additional Data Reasoning section, make it one of the most difficult exams in India, as well as the world. However, the Data Reasoning section is crucial for MBA programs in India these days, as they rely heavily on case studies and other types of data analysis.
Who can give the CAT exam?
Candidates aspiring to sit for the CAT exam need to hold a graduation degree of at least three years from a University or institution recognized by the Government of India. They need to also have scored at least 50% in their graduation degree, with leniency of 45% for candidates belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and the Persons with Disabilities section. Students in their final year of graduation are also welcome to apply. There is no age bar or criteria for the CAT exam. However, some MBA and PGDM programs, especially at IIMs do require a minimum of 2-3 years of work experience. Hence, it is worthwhile to check the individual course requirements before deciding to sit for the CAT.
When is the CAT conducted?
The CAT exam is conducted once a year, every year. It has two sessions, forenoon, which is from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m, and the afternoon session, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The CAT 2020 will be conducted on either the last Sunday of November 2020, which is the 29th of November, or the first Sunday of December 2020, which is the 6th December. The IIM conducting the 2020 exam will be announced in May 2020. Registrations for CAT 2020 will open in the first week of August 2020, and close in the last week of September 2020. The answer key is usually released a week after the exam, and the results for the 2020 CAT exam are expected in the first week of January 2021.
How do you calculate your CAT percentile online?
Since the competition for the IIMs and other top business schools may be intense, you may not want to wait until your CAT scores come out, to decide where to apply. Therefore, many candidates decide to use their expected or projected CAT scores to calculate their percentile, to speculate whether they might make the cut-off for the top IIMs or school of their choice.
While there are several online CAT percentile calculators that candidates may use, it is necessary to understand the concept of percentile first, and how this will affect their rank. This also helps candidates streamline their preparation better, to aim for their desired cut-off.
Percentile refers to the number of candidates who have scored below you in the CAT. For example, if 1000 students have taken the exam, and you are in the 95th percentile, it means that 95% of the candidates, that is 950 students, have scored below you, and you are in the top 5 percentile.
CAT scores come in two forms, the raw score and the normalized score. The raw score is the score obtained by candidates in each of the sections of the exam. This raw score is then adjusted to equalize any disparities based on test location, paper sets, test sessions and so on until all the raw scores of every candidate are on the same scale or metric. This new score is known as the normalized score.
The normalization process is mainly needed to equalize the difficulty levels of the two sessions during which CAT is conducted, the forenoon session and the afternoon session, as different sets of questions are distributed across exam centers, locations, and sessions. Thus to ensure that there is no disparity, in the raw scores, due to these external factors, this process is used.
The normalization process ensures that a scaled score is obtained for the candidate in each section, as well as the overall scaled score, which is then used for the calculation of the percentile.
The steps below detail how to calculate the percentile:
- The total number of candidates who have appeared for the CAT exam is taken as N.
- Each candidate is assigned a rank, based on the section-wise and overall scaled score. This is taken as R.
- Therefore, the formula to calculate the percentile is,
Where P is the percentile of the candidate, N is the total number of candidates and R is the rank assigned to the candidate.