CAT Normalization Process

CAT Normalisation process is referred to a method through which CAT score of each candidate is calculated for admission. Every year nearly 2.4 lakh candidates appear in CAT for admission to the IIMs which have only 5000 PGP seats to offer. Given the huge gap between candidates and number of seats, it is very important that the institutes make fair selection and to do that, they follow CAT Normalization Process. Under this process, candidates’ CAT scores are scaled to equate their performance against each other. Let’s understand CAT Normalization Process in detail.

CAT Normalization Process

CAT exam is conducted in two slots. The first slot is held from 9 am to 12 pm and the second slot is held from 2 pm to 5 pm. The CAT question paper of both the slots slightly vary and one of them is invariably tougher from the other. Thus, make sure that every candidate’s performance is judged with fairness and equity, their scores are put through Normalization Process. CAT percentile is obtained through this process.

The CAT Normalization Process is done by adjusting the location and scale differences of score distributions across different forms. This scaled score obtained are converted into CAT percentiles which form the basis of selection for IIM interview calls. However, it must be noted that CAT percentile is only one of the criteria for selection and does not ensure admission.

CAT result cum scorecard do not contain the raw scores but scaled scores for each of the following sections and overall score along with the percentiles:

  • Section I: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)
  • Section II: Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)
  • Section III: Quantitative Ability (QA)

How is CAT score normalized?

CAT Normalization Process is based on the same process used for GATE score normalization, where the normalization is based on the assumption that distribution of abilities of candidates is the same across all the sessions. In GATE, the normalization process takes into account all the variations in the difficulty levels of the question papers across different sessions.

To understand CAT normalization process better, we need to understand a few points given below:

What is scaled CAT score?

CAT marking scheme tells us that, 3 marks are granted for each correct answer and 1 mark is deducted for each wrong answer. There is no negative marking for non-MCQs. The CAT question paper is of 300 marks. The CAT score is obtained by totaling the marks obtained in each section. This ‘total marks’ is referred to as raw CAT score. CAT scaled score is arrived at after the raw scores are normalized (discussed above).

What is CAT percentile?

People often confuse between, CAT score and CAT percentile. They both are different scores and have their own significance. While, CAT score means a candidate’s total score in the exam, CAT percentile refers to a candidate’s rank in the exam. In other words, CAT percentile is the rank that a candidate obtains in the exam. For example, if a candidate scores 99.9 percentile, it means he has obtained the first rank, as 99.9 candidates are behind him/her. Or suppose 1000 candidates appear for CAT exam in a year, and a candidate’s performance is better than 999 people. It means, he/she has topped the exam and scored 99.9 percentile. 999/1000*100= 99.9.

What is Composite score?

Scoring high percentile is not enough for admission to the IIMs. The admission criteria of all the IIMs is quite stringent. Selection of each candidate depends upon not only his CAT score but also his/her academic history, work experience and other factors. For final selection, IIMs calculate the Composite Score which is based on the following parameters and weight assigned to them:

Parameters for calculating CAT Composite Score:

CAT score40
Class 10 score20
Class 12 score10
Graduation score20
Gender diversity2
Work experience8

*The above table contains parameters and weight of IIM Bangalore for CAT 2018. Weights of each parameter varies for each IIM year on year.

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