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A CAT percentile decides the rank of a management aspirant, seeking MBA/PGDM admission in top IIMs and other B-Schools in India, based on the Common Aptitude Test (CAT exam), relative to the rest of the aspirants who appeared for the same MBA entrance exam. The basic idea of the CAT percentile is to tell you what percent of the students have scored less than you in the examination. Below we can learn how CAT percentile is calculated.

Percentile Score Calculation

Calculation of percentile score of a candidate:

The steps described below are followed to calculate the CAT 2021 overall and sectional percentile scores obtained by a candidate. While illustrating the percentile score calculation process, QA section is chosen as an example. Similar process is followed for the overall percentile score calculation and for the other two sections, i.e. DILR and VARC in CAT 2021.

Step 1: Calculate the total number of candidates (N) who appeared for CAT (i.e. including both morning and afternoon sessions).

Step 2: Assign a rank (r), based on the scaled scores obtained in the QA section, to all candidates who appeared for CAT. In the case of two or more candidates obtaining identical scaled scores in the QA section, assign identical ranks to all those candidates.

As an illustration suppose exactly two candidates obtain the highest scaled score in the QA section, then both of those candidates are assigned a rank of 1. Moreover, the candidate(s) obtaining the second highest scaled score in the QA section are assigned a rank of 3 and so on.

Step 3: Calculate the percentile score (P) of a candidate with rank (r) in the QA section as:

cat percentile formula

Step 4: Round off the calculated percentile score (P) of a candidate up to two decimal points.

For example, all percentile scores greater than or equal to 99.995 are rounded off to 100, all percentile scores greater than or equal to 99.985 but strictly less than 99.995 are rounded off to 99.99 and so on.

For Example,

If the total number candidates who will be appearing for CAT 2021 exam is 1, 00,000 and you score a CAT rank 2021 of 3,500 then your CAT percentile will be calculated as below:

Your CAT 2021 Percentile = [1 – (3500/1, 00,000)] * 100 = 96.5

CAT Cut-off 2021

Every CAT aspirant keeps an eye out for the CAT Cut off of all the top B-Schools so that he/she has an idea of what they are shooting for. The CAT Cut Off is the initial stage that must be cleared by the candidate to be considered for the further procedures. While the actual CAT Cut Off is far higher than the CAT Cut Off given by the colleges, these CAT Cut Offs must also be kept in mind to ensure that the aspirant has a realistic target for which they can aim.

CAT 2021 cut off will be released by various IIMs. The minimum marks required for the examinees to get a call for the MBA exam process are called CAT Cutoff 2021. The CAT Cutoff for IIM is typically up to 99 to 100 percentile for general category students. For the reserved category students, the cutoff of CAT 2021 is slightly lower at 97 to 98 percentile. 

The general trends for the top B-Schools are:

  • The Top IIMs a CAT Score of over 99%ile to get a call for the interview rounds.
  • New IIMs like IIM Udaipur, IIM Trichy, etc. all have a CAT Cut Off of 90-95%ile for an interview call.
  • Baby IIMs have similar CAT Cut Offs as in the New IIMs but some can dip to 85%ile for the candidate with the right profile.
  • Tier 2 and Tier 3 Colleges can have CAT Scores and CAT Cut Offs of anywhere between 50 and 80%ile.
  • Apart from the overall CAT Cut Off that has been mentioned in above paragraph, most top B-Schools also have a sectional CAT Cut Off. If the candidate clears the over CAT Cut Off but fails to clear the Section CAT Cut Off, he/she will not get a call from the B-School.

Why MBA Colleges have a cut-off?

The CAT Exam attracted around 2 lakh students every year. This makes it difficult for the colleges to select the ideal candidates from this selection. An additional complexity is that the other colleges will simultaneously be selecting candidates for their own batch.

Therefore, the Business Colleges decided to bring in something called the CAT Cut Off. This represents a basic percentile requirement which the colleges decide upon based on:

  • Reputation of College
  • Number of Aspirants for the college

These two factors are somewhat inter-related because the bigger the reputation of the college, more the number of candidates who would want to gain admission in the college.

There are certainly other factors such as quality of the faculty, the placement record and even the location of the college. The last factor matters because if there are two colleges with equally competent student base, companies would rather visit the college which is closer to their location. It is due to this reason that colleges tend to crop up in industrial hubs such as Mumbai and Bangalore.

Factors Determining Cut-off

  • Difficulty level of the question paper

This is one of the main reasons why CAT is so important. The greater the difficulty level of the CAT question paper, the cutoff will be lower and vice-versa.

  • Number of Test Takers

The total number of candidates appearing in CAT 2021 will have an impact on the CAT cutoff. This will have a direct relationship, i.e. higher CAT test-takers will lead to higher CAT cutoff, while lower CAT test-takers will have a lower CAT cutoff 2021.

  • Seat availability

The number of seats available at the respective IIMs is also affected by the CAT 2021 cut off. For example, if any IIM has limited seats, the published cutoff of CAT 2021 will be higher for selecting candidates.

  • The reputation of the Institute

Renowned institutes ranked under the NIRF Management Rankings 2021 will set their cutoffs higher.

  • Last year's CAT cutoff trends

The cutoff for CAT 2021 is based on the previous year’s cutoffs released by IIMs. The CAT 2021 cutoff will be somewhere around past cut-off trends of 2020.

Expected CAT Cutoff 2021


Expected Cutoff 

IIM Ahmedabad 

99 -100

IIM Bangalore 


IIM Calcutta 


IIM Lucknow 


IIM Indore 


IIM Kozhikode 


IIM Amritsar 


IIM Nagpur 


IIM Sambalpur 


IIM Trichy 


IIM Raipur 


IIM Ranchi 


IIM Kashipur 


IIM Vizag 


IIM Udaipur 


IIM Bodhgaya 


IIM Shillong 


IIM Sirmaur 


IIM Jammu 


Keep visiting this window for updates on CAT 2021.

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