percentage vs percentile

The Game of Marks Vs Percentile

As 99% of management students know about the CAT exam, this most popular MBA entrance test needs no introduction but for the rest 1%, CAT is a still a mystery. This exam is conducted once a year and India’s top B-schools accept the score. Talking about CAT there is a term Percentile which we usually get to hear.

 The question that comes to a candidate’s mind is:

What is percentile and how is it different than percentage?


reflects the number of marks scored by a candidate out of the total marks, keeping a common base of 100.

So if a candidate has scored 99% that means he/she has scored 99 marks out of 100.


reflects how a candidate has performed among all the test takers.

So if a candidate has scored 99%ile that means 99% candidates have scored less than him/her.

Let us now see how much SCORE is needed achieve 99%ile in CAT based on previous results. Also, at the end of this article, you will learn to calculate the CAT percentile.

Also Read: IIM CAT Cut Off Percentiles for IIMs

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC):

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension

As the name suggests VARC covers RC and questions on Verbal Ability like Paragraph Jumbles, Paragraph Summary, and find odd sentence/word out of the total 34 questions,24 are from RC passage and the rest 10 from Verbal Ability. To score 99 percentile in this section, candidate needs to get around 25 questions correct. If VARC is not the strong point, then the candidates must focus on getting around 20 questions right to score around 90%ile in this section.

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR):

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning

In the last few years, candidates have started fearing from this section. Comparing scores with other sections, candidates need less marks to score 99%ile. To get into the 90%ile club, a candidate needs to get around 8-10 questions correct. Among 8 sets of data based reasoning, Candidates who have good logical reasoning abilities and a knack for data make score above 90%ile too. A sound strategy is required while solving this section.

Quantitative Aptitude:

Quantitative Aptitude

Difficulty level of this section varies highly in CAT. To perform well in this section a student requires knowledge practice and presence of mind. After ascertaining the difficulty level, candidates must decide the number of questions to attempt. If the difficulty level is relatively high then the focus must be on accuracy and if the difficulty level is relatively low then the focus must be on speed to answer.

Cumulating the Scores of the last three years:

Raw score for 99 percentile

If we look at the trend of last few years, we can see that an overall 99%ile was achieved on a score between 115 to 160. This means that a candidate needs to attempt roughly 45 to 50% of the paper correctly to be among the top 1 percent.

How to Calculate CAT Percentile?

Following is the formula to calculate sectional and overall CAT percentile.
P = (R/N) × 100

P= Percentile score
R= Candidate Rank allotted on the basis of scaled CAT score or total number of candidates who are ranked below you.

N= Total number of candidates who appeared in CAT (both morning and evening sessions)

For example, 1,000 students wrote CAT and you get the top rank, which means 999 candidates scored less than you. Then your percentile will be 999/1000*100= 99.9.

All percentile scores are rounded off up to two decimal points only. As in, 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.

If, in the case of two or more students attaining same scaled scores in a section, same ranks are assigned to all of them.

So candidates this is all about the pervious data, marks and cut-offs, all you need to do is study well and aim HIGH. MBA Aspirants must read Revised CAT Syllabus 2021. Visit Official CAT 2021 website for detailed notification

Best of Luck!

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