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CAT Normalization Process 2021 - Revised Process for 3 Shifts

Abhinav Chamoli
Abhinav ChamoliUpdated On: December 01, 2021 11:26 am IST | CAT

Normalization is an important process that is used in the CAT exam in order to ensure that every candidate is fairly assessed. Here is the step-by-step process of normalization of CAT 2021 and the formula used to calculate the CAT 2021 scaled scores.

CAT Normalization Process 2021

The Common Admission Test (CAT) is one of the most widely attempted MBA entrance exams in India. It is a national-level management entrance exam that gets more than 2 lakh registrations every year. This year, the figure is 2.31 lakhs approximately. Therefore, the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) that conduct CAT have to ensure that the exam is conducted in a seamless process and no candidate is given undue advantage or at a disadvantage in the exam. The CAT Normalization Process is one such step that IIMs employ.

In this article, we take a look at the normalization process of CAT. Aspirants who are interested to appear in CAT will be able to get an idea of how CAT scores are calculated and how the normalization process is applied to the raw scores of candidates in CAT. Understanding the normalization process is important for each candidate as only after the process has been applied, CAT scores can be considered for admission by MBA colleges in India.

CAT 2021 Important Dates

Check out the details of the important dates for CAT 2021 as released by the conducting body IIM Ahmedabad. The schedule for CAT 2021 can be found in the table given below.



CAT 2021 Exam Date

November 28, 2021

Result Release

January Second Week 2022 (Tentative)

Importance of Normalization in CAT 2021

Since a large number of candidates appear for CAT, the exam was conducted in two shifts or sessions or slots. Following the safety guidelines mentioned in the revised SOP for exams amid COVID-19, CAT 2021 was conducted in three shifts. CAT 2021 duration was reduced from 3 to 2 hours and the total number of questions decreased from 76 questions to 66 questions but that will have no effect on the Normalization Process.

Candidates appearing in different shifts get different question papers for CAT. Even though the conducting body i.e. IIMs ensure that the question papers are identical in their difficulty level, there may be some discrepancies in the difficulty level of question papers or test forms.

Hence, a probability arises that candidates of a slot may get an easier question paper than candidates of the other slot. To nullify this advantage, IIMs employ CAT Normalization process. CAT 2021 normalization process is the adjustment done in the CAT score of participants to ensure that there is no discrimination for or against any candidate in the calculation of final CAT scores. The normalised CAT 2021 scores are a very important factor in the overall CAT selection process as well.

The CAT Normalization Process is conducted in two steps.

  1. In the first step of the CAT normalization process, IIMs adjust the exam scores for 'scale differences of score distribution across different forms'.

  2. In the second step, after the normalization process has been applied across different forms, the scores across different sections are normalized.

In the information given above, 'test forms' refer to the question papers of CAT.

Also Read: MBA Admission Process

CAT 2021 Normalization Process

After a candidate has attempted the question paper of CAT, his / her 'Raw Scores' are calculated which are based purely on the number of correct answers and the number of wrong answers in the CAT exam. To calculate the raw score, a candidate must know the:

Raw Scores in CAT can be calculated by using the following formula.

Raw Score = 3 x (No. of Correct Answers) - 1 x (No. of Incorrect Answers)

Once the raw scores have been calculated, the normalization process can be applied to get the Scaled Score of a candidate in CAT. The CAT scorecard which is released after the declaration of CAT Results contains the scaled scores of a candidate. The CAT percentile, whether it be overall or section-wise, is also calculated using the CAT scaled scores.

Also Read: Documents Required for MBA Admission

Revised CAT Scaled Score Calculation

Since CAT 2021 is being conducted in 3 shifts, the following information has been updated to account for the same.

The scaled score of CAT is calculated across each section of the exam. Once the scaled score of each section has been calculated, the overall score can be calculated by simply adding up the scaled scores of each section.

In order to easily understand the process of normalization of CAT scores, it is better to break down the process into multiple steps and understand each variable that is used in the formula. Let's first understand the steps to calculate CAT scaled score and then we will take a look at the formula.

These steps are applied section-wise i.e. raw scores of only one section is considered at a time when calculating scaled scores.

Step 1: Mean (Average) and Standard Deviation (SD) of the raw scores of candidates who appeared in the 1st shift are calculated and added together.

M1 = Mean of 1st Shift + SD of 1st Shift

Step 2: Mean and SD of the raw scores of candidates who appeared in the 2nd shift are calculated and added together.

M2 = Mean of 2nd Shift + SD of 2nd Shift

Step 3: Mean and SD of the raw scores of candidates who appeared in the 3rd shift are calculated and added together.

M3 = Mean of 3rd Shift + SD of 3rd Shift

Step 4: Mean and SD of the raw scores of all of the candidates who appeared across all three of the sections are calculated.

M = Mean of all three shifts + SD of all three shifts

Step 5: Mean of the raw scores of the top 0.1% of the candidates who appeared in the 1st shift is calculated.

Let this be M1.01

Step 6: Mean of the raw scores of the top 0.1% of the candidates who appeared in the 2nd shift is calculated.

Let this be M2.01

Step 7: Mean of the raw scores of the top 0.1% of candidates from the 3rd shift is calculated.

Let this be M3.01

Step 8: Mean of the raw scores of the top 0.1% of the candidates across both sections is calculated.

Let this be M0.1

Step 9: The following formula is used to calculate the scaled score of a candidate. Please note that the given formula is for a candidate who appeared for the 1st shift.

Scaled Score = M + {(R - M1) x (M0.1 - M) / (M1.01 - M1)}

The relevant values in this formula must be changed accordingly to calculate the scaled score of a candidate in the other two shifts.

Here, R is the Raw Score of the candidate whose scaled score is being calculated.

Overall Scaled Score = Scaled Score in DILR + Scaled Score in QA + Scaled Score in VARC

Also Read: CAT vs Other MBA Entrance Exams

CAT Percentile Calculation

A CAT percentile shows what percentage of candidates have received a lesser score than you in the CAT exam. In order to calculate the CAT percentile, it is important to know two things:

  1. Your rank in CAT (R)

  2. Total no. of candidates who appeared for CAT (N)

The steps outlined below are used to compute a candidate's CAT 2021 overall and sectional percentile scores. The QA section is used as an example to demonstrate the percentile score calculating method.

Step 1: The total number of appearing candidates(N) for CAT is taken into account. It includes the morning, afternoon, and evening sessions). 

Step 2: A rank (r) is assigned to all the candidates who appeared for CAT 2021, depending on the computed scores obtained in the QA section. In a scenario where two/more candidates have obtained identical scaled scores in the QA section, identical ranks are assigned to all such candidates. For instance, let's suppose that exactly two candidates have obtained the highest scaled score in the QA section. In this case, both the candidates are allocated a rank of 1. Furthermore, the candidate(s) securing the second-highest scaled score in the QA segment is assigned a rank of 3, and so on.

Step 3: The candidate's percentile score (P) is calculated with rank (r) in the QA section like this:


What all factors are included in the CAT scaled score calculation?

You must know the Raw Scores of ALL of the candidates that appeared for CAT. Additionally, you must have information about the Shift of each candidate to be able to calculate their Scaled Scores.

Why is the CAT scaled score important?

CAT scaled score is very important as it can be used to compare the performance of a candidate with a candidate from the same or any other shift. This helps candidates and institutes accepting CAT get a fair assessment of the candidate's performance in CAT.

How are scaled scores calculated in CAT?

IIMs first calculate the Mean and Standard deviation of the Raw scores of a candidate and then apply a formula to calculate the scaled scores.

Why is normalization used in CAT?

Normalization helps make assessment fairer for the candidates. Question Papers for different shifts have slightly varying difficulty levels due to unavoidable human error. Normalization is used in CAT to ensure that no candidate gets advantaged or disadvantaged due to the same.

What is normalization in CAT?

CAT is conducted in multiple shifts and each shift has a different question. There may be some difference in the difficulty level of question papers. CAT Normalization Process is used to adjust a candidate's scores for these differences.

CAT Previous Year Question Paper

CAT Question Paper 2018 Slot 1

CAT Question Paper 2018 Slot 2

CAT Question Paper 2019 Slot 1

CAT Question Paper 2019 Slot 2

CAT question Paper 2017 f1

CAT question Paper 2017 F2


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