CAT 2014 Centre: “The process of Normalization is an established practice for comparing candidate scores across multiple Forms and is similar to those being adopted in other large educational selection tests conducted in India such as Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE)”

That’s ambiguous! I can see how that conversation went:
Student: “How is the normalization going to done in the CAT?”
Authority: “Check GATE”
Student: “What’s GATE!?”
Authority: “Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering”
Student: “But I want to know about CAT! I am not even an engineer. Why should I bother about GATE?”
Authority: “Well, we ran out of ink to write how the normalization is done.”
Now, we are left to figure out what’s the GATE’s normalization process. So, I searched the net and found out this nice looking equation:

My response: “Aaaargghhhh!!”

But then, we will have to make sense of all this. So, a little more digging and a bit of reasoning, I found out a few things:

What is the process?

There are multiple tests (4 in this case). How do we compare the scores of students across these slots? Normalization is a pretty normal process.This is how it is done in GATE. The average marks of the top 0.1% of the students, average score of students in a particular slot, the deviation from mean – these are compared and a nice mathematical formula is used to calculate the score. That will take care of the variation in difficulty level of each test.

Should we be bothered?

We should be bothered if it is bothersome! Last year there were quite a few issues on normalization (at least that the rumor!). It is very unlikely that it will repeat this year because of the following reasons:

CAT 2013 CAT 2014 Impact
Student chose the test date Dates are randomly allotted. Therefore, there will not be skew in any slot.More accurate normalization
40 test slots! 4 test slots Each slot now has 45000 – which is a pretty great number for accurate normalization.

Bottomline, don’t worry – there will NOT be any problem this time around!

Should we change anything?

Nah! You have to ensure that you are better than most students in your test slot. So, the key is focus on the test on the screen, execute your plan of ensuring that you solve all the questions that you could have solved.

Some random FAQs?

How important is accuracy?

Bloody important! You get marks only if you are accurate. You lose marks otherwise!

Is there differential marking scheme based on accuracy?

This is a conspiracy theory! Something that I have been hearing since I took the CAT back in 1996! REALITY: There is no such differential marking scheme based on accuracy. The normalized mark is based on – toppers marks, average marks and standard deviation. So, what will matter is your final mark. That being said, you will get marks only if you get the answers correct. So, in that sense accuracy is bloody important!

The Mock CAT given in the website has some questions with 4 options some with 5 options. Why is that?

Well, that test was a sample – it just took questions from CAT 2004-2008 and put the same questions (including the questions with errors and also introduced some new errors!) The test is put to understand the testing environment. It is not a representation of the difficulty level or type of questions which will be asked in the actual CAT.

Bottomline, you don’t worry. Focus on your preparation. Whatever that the CAT throws at you, accept the challenge and handle it.

We wish you the very best. I will see you guys on the other side of CAT…