CAT 2016: Attempts and Percentiles etc.

First up, I did not take CAT 2016, so any input I might have gathered is secondary. I have spoken to a bunch of our students and have decided to capture the essence of what they have said.

Paper was tough

This much was obvious. It was substantially tougher than last year. In verbal, the passages were readable but questions were non-obvious. DI LR was close to being a nightmare with one having to fight for practically every mark. Quant was also tough, with Geometry playing a big role. Little details mattered – so many choices depended on paying attention to detail that one had to be switched on to crack this exam.

Percentile ranges

As far as percentile guesstimates are concerned, attempts should perhaps have broadly been in the following range

99.5th percentile in each section: VA – 28, DI-LR – 18, QA – 24

99th percentile in each section: VA – 25, DI-LR – 15, QA – 21

98th percentile in each section: VA – 23, DI-LR – 13, QA – 19

95th percentile in each section: VA – 22, DI-LR – 11, QA – 17

90th percentile in each section: VA – 21, DI-LR – 9, QA – 14

80th percentile in each section: VA – 20, DI-LR – 7, QA – 12

The above numbers are guesstimates at best, could likely be wildly incorrect.

Overall percentiles would be higher than the average of the three percentiles. For instance, someone who gets 99.5 in each section will likely be around 99.8-99.9 overall. Someone with 95th percentile in each section would be close to 98-99 overall. Someone with 90 in each section should be upwards of 95th percentile overall.

All of these numbers are based on the assumption that at worst 1-2 questions are wrong. I do not understand the term “around 70% accuracy”. Any paper where you believe you will have around 70% accuracy, you are basically leaving to the machinations of fate. If you think around 3 out of every 10 could be wrong, then very easily 5 out of 10 could be wrong.

Gradient could be steep, particularly in DI

The difference between 12 attempts and 15 attempts could be huge. This is true in any exam that is tougher-than-usual, so this will be particularly relevant for DI. So, this is a paper where accuracy matters a lot and finer details count big. The conservative, careful aspirant is likely to score better than the aggressive chance-taking big-attempter.

It is what it is

Finally, all this analysis counts for pish tosh. You have completed the process. Take a breather and wait for the results to come in before taking any big decision. Take 2 days off and start thinking about XAT.

It is incredibly tough to get any meaningful insight on how well you have done and what percentile you are headed towards. Percentile prediction/estimation is just one of those things that we naturally do at the end of the exam. It is inevitable that the mind will think about the potential score. So, go through a few websites and blogs to get some kind of hazy outline, but move on to more crucial things soon enough.

Best wishes for XAT.