2011 was an eventful year for CAT-takers, with a sudden overhaul in format, and other changes in the admissions process, like institutes scrapping the group discussion round in favour of a written assessment, and giving extra points to girls and non-engineers to increase diversity in the classroom. The test-takers have got their CAT scores recently, the first time that the new format has been assessed. If you’ve got yours, here’s a guide on how to interpret your scores, and figure out a way ahead.
Here’s how the CAT 2011 scores are calculated:
Step 1: Calculating
Your raw scores are calculated for each section based on the number of questions you answered correctly, incorrectly, or what you omitted.
Correct answer: +3 points for questions you answered correctly.
Incorrect answer: -1 point for questions answered incorrectly.
Omitted: 0 points for questions you did not answer.
Step 2: The raw score is ‘Equated’
Equating is a statistical process used to adjust scores on two or more alternate forms of an assessment so that the scores may be used interchangeably. Industry standard processes were used for equating, such as those outlined within the ETS Standards for Quality and Fairness.
Step 3: The equated raw score is ‘Scaled’
In order to ensure appropriate interpretation of an equated raw score, the scores must be placed on a common scale or metric. The IIM scaling model is as follows:
Section scores = 0 to 225
Total exam score = 0 to 450
Three scaled scores are presented for each candidate: an overall scaled score and two separate scaled scores for each section. A high score in one section does not guarantee a high score in another section. Percentile rankings are provided for each individual section as well as for the overall exam score.
What’s a ‘good’ CAT score this year?
While experts agree that it is difficult to predict good scores in an online test, since there are multiple versions of the test being conducted (the CAT had almost 40 different papers — about 20 days and two slots each, a general pattern can be expected based on previous years.
“This year, the CAT had different questions being dished out to different students taking test in the same slot. So, normalisation of scores, based on difficulty level of the test and questions, is going to play a key role,” says Manish Salian, faculty, CPLC.
According to Salian, these are the most prevalent observations from the CAT 2011, based on student feedback:
1. The CAT was much simpler than it was anticipated to be.
2. In the quant section, barring a few slots, attempts in the range of 20 to 25 are common amongst the students who were doing well in their mocks, while in the verbal section, the attempts were as high as 25 to 28.
3. Hence, a crude way of calculating good scores as per Prometric’s scoring system is as follows:
* Quant: 19 correct and 6 incorrect would fetch a raw score of approximately 50 on 90, while in Verbal: 22 correct and 6 incorrect would fetch a raw score of approximately 60 on 90.
* Each section will be scaled to 225 (2.5 times). Hence, a good score in quant is 50 x 2.5 = 125, while that in verbal is 60 x 2.5 = 150.
Overall it would be 125 + 150 = 275 on 450.
This can only be ballpark because normalisation based on difficulty level of the tests has not yet been accounted for.
“Between 20-25 questions answered with 85% to 90% accuracy should fetch a good score,” says Vinayak Kudwa, academic head, TIME. “For top institutes, anywhere over 250 out of the total 450 should be the cut-off.”
What you should do now
* Start preparing immediately for the group discussion and personal interviews rounds, irrespective of whether you have received calls from institutes over the next c0ouple of days, since they may come later. You don’t want to be in a position where you are short of preparation time
* Read newspapers and follow current events
* Read books that will improve your vocabulary for the written assessment that some institutes, including various IIMs will introduce this year
* Don’t lose steam for any other test; keep your options open