CAT 2016: How 1/3 negative marking pulls your score down to 39 from 99; Learn the right strategy from CAT toppers at IIMs & expert

Tuesday, November 15 2016, 06:15 AM
Score of 99 in CAT 2016 depends more upon how strong you are to avoid your temptation and less on how many more questions you attempt in the exam
Accuracy is more important than attempting more questions and it is better to attempt the easy questions first so that the situation to panic doesn't rise CAT toppers from IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore, FMS Delhi

Scoring 99+ in CAT 2016 more depends on how strong you are to avoid your temptation and less on how many more questions you attempt in the exam, is the expert view by Prof S K Agarwal, mentor on CAT 2016 preparation and expert on Verbal Ability.

The mechanism of marking in CAT 2016 can award you with high percentile even if you have solved fewer number of questions rather than getting tempted to solve doubtful ones. Your score may go below ‘zero’ even if you attempt all the 100 questions. There have been number of candidates in earlier CAT exams who scored negative marks as their strategy to attempt CAT did not synchronize with the marking scheme in CAT exam.

The marking scheme announced for CAT 2016 has 3 marks for every correct answer and 1 mark deducted from your credit score for every wrong answer. The exception is Non-MCQs where your wrong answers will not impose penalty of negative marking.

(-) 1: Always keep in mind
The penalty of (-)1 marking out of credit score for each wrong answer results in depletion of your actual score which forms the basis of equated score and percentile score. Even if you have doubt among 3-4 answer options or are unable to match your answer to the given options, better is to avoid the temptation to solve the question again and the suggested strategy is to move on to next question.

See with example below how it can drag you down from 99 to 39 percentiler

80 Qs Attempted: Candidate ‘A’
CAT 2016 test taker ‘A’ is very much confident and goes to testing room with one goal in mind-solve as many questions as he can within the time allotted. He attempts 27/34 in Quant; 25/32 in DILR and 28/34 in VRC sections.

Initially ‘A’ in his 3 attempts could solve 14 questions in Quant in 35 minutes. Not satisfied with his performance, he began scanning the questions again. It came to him as second thought that he could click right answer option, if he began to check the answer options first and then go through the questions in reverse order. ‘A’ followed the process and cracked 13 more in remaining 25 minutes. Total tally of questions in Quant section solved in 60 minutes thus went up to 27.

Same process in other 2 sections was also followed

The result

  • Accuracy level which was high earlier, dipped  now
  • Out of earlier 14 only one was wrong. He could have scored 13x3=39-1=38 raw marks out of 102 maximum marks, if he had not moved further to attempt more questions
  • The next move of attempting 13 more questions got him 2 correct and 11 wrong. Out of these 11wrong answers, there are 2 Non-MCQs also.  The net position comes as follows-

Credit for Correct answers 2x3=6; Debit for wrong answers 11-2 (no negative marking for non-MCQs)=9x1=9. After deducting 9 marks for wrong answers, the net marks scored are 6-9=(-) 3 marks. 

  • Total score in Quant 38-3=35 marks. This is a huge loss as even deduction of a single mark can dip your percentile by 6 or 7.

No IIM to shortlist ‘A’ now
Candidate ‘A’ might have got a higher percentile if he had avoided the temptation to solve more questions to score high. With the dip like this in all the 3 sections, ‘A’ might  not score the minimum qualifying sectional percentile prescribed by IIMs not to say of getting  higher on merit percentile.

If a candidate gets 100 percentile by accurately solving 60 questions and if ‘A’ after solving 80 questions ends up in 40 correct and 40 wrong, he loses 40 core marks out of his score of 120 marks in CAT 2016. If he did not attempt the wrong 40, he would score full 120 and might score a high percentile of 96 to 98. Now with the loss of 40 marks, his percentile may also go down 75 or 76 which may not make him eligible even to be shortlisted by any IIM.

What did 100 percentiler do?
Pranjal Agarwal (100 perctile in CAT & IIMA student); Disha Gupta (98.83 percentile in CAT & IIM Ranchi student); Shashank Heda (99.99 percentile in CAT and IIMB student); Saransh Garg (99.98 percentile in CAT & FMS Delhi student) – all are unanimous that accuracy is more important than attempting more questions and it is better to attempt the easy questions first so that the situation to panic doesn't rise.

No candidate in CAT attempts all the questions. 100 or 99 percentilers in CAT don’t go beyond  a certain limit. A 99 or 100 percentiler might have attempted 55 or 60 out of 100 questions within his strong area and thereby committing negligible mistakes.

Cracking CAT 2016 with 100 percentile means you have a good accuracy level. After declaration of CAT 2016 result in the second week of January 2017, if you ask a 100 percentiler about his testing room strategy, the answer would be that he avoided temptation to attempt more questions. Seeking answers to the questions, you don’t know how to crack right may drag you to the domain of temptation of inaccurate attempts. This will lead you in low scoring range and despite attempting more questions, you will not be able to score high.

CAT 2016 exam will be divided in 3 sections. First section on Quant will consist of 34 questions; second section will comprise 32 questions on Data Interpretation & Logical reasoning (DILR) and the third section will have 34 questions on Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VRC).

Remember the Key points

  • Total number of questions in CAT 2016    – 100
  • Total available time to solve CAT 2016     -   3 hours
  • Time allotted to solve each section            -   1 hour
  • Marking scheme                                          -   3 marks for correct answer and deduction of 

                                                                                     1 mark for wrong answer

  • Non MCQs in each section without provision of negative marking
  • Expected Sectional raw score taking you beyond 90-95 percentile – 45 to 55

While maximizing the attempts, the greed to attempt more number of questions taking them as a challenge in view of Prof S K Agarwal, expert and mentor on CAT preparation, is contrary to the testing room strategy. In fact CAT 2016 test takers should attempt only those questions which they can solve quickly and belong to their strong areas.

Clear your concepts, practice greater variety of questions of varying difficulty level within the actual CAT 2016 time frame. Analyse the mistakes and avoid their recurrence.

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