CAT 2014 Comprehensive Analysis with Cutoffs – Revised

28th Dec, 2014

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26th Dec, 2014

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28th Nov – Revision of cutoffs based on Student Data

CAT Percentiles and Scores – Normalized for all four slots

After analyzing data of a number of students and also factoring in the exam conditions and discounting the expectations of students, the following cutoffs have been arrived at. These are revised cutoffs for normalized scores. The difficulty level of the paper across the four slots is given as under. The grid below gives the ranking of difficulty of the slot wrt to the other slots. Rank 1 to 4 are given in the order of Easiest to Difficult for that section across the slots.


As can be seen, the First slot on 22nd November was the easiest slot and hence the scores of the students in that slot will get normalized downward the most.

Here is the prediction for percentiles and scores across sections and for overall marks.



Original Published Story

“The paper is very easy.”

“Everyone has attempted more than 90 questions!”

“The cutoff will be very high.”

These are the most often heard statements by students this year after CAT.

However, nothing can be farther than the truth!

While the CAT 2014 paper (all four slots) was easier than the CAT papers of the previous years (read 2011,2012, 2013) and also easier than that of almost all Mock papers given out by VistaMind and other coaching institutes, the cutoffs will still not be as high as are being predicted by many people.

Before we go into the Cutoffs and predictions…


A Comment on “The way the Test was conducted”

If Prometric was over-zealous in trying to create a very serious and exam like atmosphere, the CAT 2014, conducted by TCS, was way short of expectations. Firstly, the exam centres were, more often than not, very far from the city and that too in unlocatable places. To make it worse, there were no signs to guide students towards the actual labs. In some of the colleges (esp on 22nd) where the exam was conducted, there were parallel exams going on (definitely in Karnataka) and the noise and confusion due to that is unbelievable. Students carried mobiles, watches, papers, pencils etc into the LAB where they were writing. Though a half-hearted warning was given to the students to set aside these gadgets, many a student did not bother to do that and carried these items to the test place with impunity. IIMs were hardly bothered to check, it appeared!

A Comment on “The Standard of the CAT 2014 paper”

Over the years the standard of the paper has come down. The vintage CAT of the 1990s and 2000s where there were many questions to choose from in a limited time, was a classical case of managing time and resources (your ability to solve). That went down with CAT becoming Computer based and when the number of questions were only 60 and the time limit was 140 min (CAT 2013), the paper was a sorry shadow of the CAT exam which was hailed as one of the most difficult exams to crack.

CAT 2014 has definitely arrested this deterioration. With 100 questions to choose from (though with a higher time limit of 170 min), the paper has got some balance.



The IIMs have been harping the bit on batch diversity for too long. They don’t seem to have a better idea than doling out reservations to the so called people from diverse disciplines (by giving extra marks or reducing the cutoffs for them).

The CAT paper could have been set in such as way as to make it equally difficult or easy to all people from different academic backgrounds. But, in the process of probably making the paper easy, the CAT 2014 paper was given on a platter for students from the IITs and top Engineering graduates.

While the IIMs may argue that there should be little affect of COACHING for CAT, this very argument has disadvantaged most of the students from backgrounds such as Arts, Humanities, Life Sciences or Agriculture. CAT 2014 would have been a Cakewalk for a student from an IIT with little preparation whereas the same would be true for students from other backgrounds ONLY if the students had prepared very well from coaching institutes.

CAT 2014 paper reiterates the IMPORTANCE of coaching and any one who had gone through even the handouts of the Coaching Institutes (read VistaMind handouts  ) would have found the paper definitely simpler to attempt.


Now for the Analysis of the CAT 2014 paper – All FOUR SLOTS:

The similarity of the paper across the four slots has given enough reasons to indicate that the paper was a FAIR paper for all students across slots. Having said that, the logical element of DI in slot 1 (Day 1 slot 1) and slot 4 (Day 2 Slot 2) would have made the two slots a bit more difficult that the other two slots. Also, the slot 3 questions (Day 2 Slot 1) were probably the easiest as compared to the other three slots.

Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation

The Quantitative area had a fair mix of Algebra, Arithmetic, Numbers, Geometry and Pure Math. The CAT 2014 quant section paper can be termed as a very balanced paper in recent years. Any student with strong basics in Math (read 8th, 9th and 10th Math) would have found enough questions to solve – The reason why we believe that the students from the IITs & NITs would get a bit unfair advantage.

Data Interpretation area had a very good mix of logical sets as well as Calculation sets (Bar, Table, Scatter Diagram etc., ) and a well prepared student would have been able to attempt almost all the four sets in the paper.

However as it happens, this is CAT! Supposedly, the most important and tough exam. As such, many students freeze when they see simple questions too (reacting – this can’t be so easy!) and spend too much of time trying to make sure that the accuracy is maintained. In the process lose a fair bit of time.

A good attempt in this section would be 30+ questions with an 80% accuracy.


Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning

The surprise element in Verbal Ability was two fold. First, there were no questions on Vocabulary or English usage. Second, there were quite a few questions on Critical Reasoning (CR). While CR was always expected, given that the section had 50 questions, the absence of questions from Vocab was a bit surprising!

The para jumbles and odd man out (of Para jumbles) were pretty simple in all slots (as deduced from the reaction of the students). The Reading Comprehension area also did not pose too many problems.

The sets in Logical Reasoning (LR) were quite standard and any student with a fair bit of practice would have found the going easy in LR

A good student would have attempts upwards of 30 questions with an accuracy of 75%.


CAT Percentiles and Scores – Normalized for all four slots

Here is the prediction for percentiles and scores across sections and for overall marks.


Percentile Section I Section II Overall
80 42-44 38-40 78-82
90 48-50 44-46 90-94
95 58-60 54-56 108-112
99 70-72 66-68 132-136
99.5+ 78-80 74-76 144-148


A Note on Normalization

As given on the CAT website, normalizing is a process to homogenize any unevenness generated across the 4 slots because of the difference in the question papers. Although nothing specific was mentioned on the CAT website about the process, they clearly indicated that the process used is similar to “GATE and other large educational selection tests”. You can read the document released by CAT on normalization here.

We at VistaMind estimate that this has to be a two-step process –

1. Compare the average performance of students in any slot with the overall performance of students in all the slots put together. This step would give the CAT administrators an idea as to the level of difficulty of the paper in that slot. Here one important assumption is that the average intelligence of students in all the 4 slots is the same. Having assumed this, if the average of say slot 1 score is 30 marks and the overall average score of all slots put together is 45, then it is inferred that slot 1 had a difficult paper compared to other slots.

2. The second step would be to compare the performance of the student in a slot and bring it in level with a benchmark score. What this essentially means is that a student who wrote in slot 1 (as per example in step 1) and got a score of 50 should be rewarded more than a student who wrote in other slots and got the same score 50 because slot 1 was difficult than the other slots. The formula should be in such a way that a score of 50 in slot one should translate to normalized score of more than 50 because of the difficulty level of the paper in that slot. Similarly if the average score of students in slot 4 was very high than the overall average, it means the slot 4 paper was very easy. Therefore, someone who gets 50 in slot 4 might actually get less than 50 in the normalized score when you bring in the easiness factor of that slot.

A simple formula which can do the above is already in use by GATE. The formula is





GET your PERCENTILE by giving your attempts here. We will send you your normalized score based on the above formula via e-mail.

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ARKS Srinivas is an alumnus of IIM Calcutta and has been the All India CAT Director at TIME. He is currently the National Head for MBA Prep at Career Launcher.




But you didn’t factor in accuracy… Please give an idea of how big a part does accuracy play in the overall final score calculation…
(eg. 75 attempts – Score – 140 & 50 attempts – Score 140 ! What would be the approx %ile difference ?)