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CAT FAQs: What is the sectional cut-off?
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November 03, 2008

To help students preparing fro CAT 2008, we have attempted to answer the most frequently asked questions faced by them:

What is the duration of the CAT?
The actual time for answering the question paper is two and half hours.

Is there a minimum cut-off in each section of the CAT paper?
You should remember that CAT is used as an admission test by more than 100 institutes including the IIMs. And the CAT score is just one of the components of the admission process for most of the institutes. Some of these institutes (including the IIMs) expect you to cross a cut-off mark in each section. But the cut-off marks themselves will differ from institute to institute. Further, a lot of institutes DO NOT have section-wise cut-offs for admission.

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Can we get the question paper back with us after we write the CAT?
Yes, you can retain the test booklet after you complete the test.

Is there negative marking for wrong answers?
Every year, CAT has been awarding negative marks for incorrect answers.

What is the level of negative marks given for wrong answers?
On the basis of the analysis that we at TIME have done over the last 16 years (when the level of negative marks were not specified) as well as the information that has been released by the IIMs over the last couple of years, it is observed that when questions have four choices, one-third of the marks allotted to the question are deducted for wrong answers and when questions have five choices, one-fourth of the marks allotted to that questions are deducted.

What will happen if I mark two answers for the same question?
It will be treated as a wrong answer and negative marks will be awarded.

Do I get negative marks even for questions that I do not attempt at all?
No. Questions that you do not attempt at all will not attract negative marks. Only questions that you have attempted and got wrong will attract negative marks.

I am doing third year degree. I don't have 50 per cent as of now, but I have taken improvement exams and I am confident of increasing my aggregate to over 50 per cent. Can I apply to CAT?
You will not be able to write CAT2008 since you don't have 50 per cent now. However, you can write CAT2009 in case you do well in your final year and your aggregate goes up to over 50 per cent.

I have written my final in April '08 and I am awaiting results. In the CAT form, shall I mark my degree as completed?
Since the results are not out, you will have to indicate your degree as 'incomplete'.

I took my final year exams in May and I am awaiting results. The format of certificate from the principal is for final year students and says "this student is currently doing his final year...". What about students like me?
The following sentence needs to replace the first sentence in the certificate. "This is to certify that Mr/Ms ______ has already appeared for the final exams and results are expected by _______. He/she has obtained at least 50 per cent of marks* (45 per cent in case of SC/ST/PWD candidates) based on latest available marks/ grades in graduation level examination. The above stated percentage is based on the subjects, which are considered by the University / Institute to award the class / division / rank.

Should I send mark lists of each semester along with the CAT application form?
You need to attach a copy of mark sheet indicating percentage marks scored in graduation if your degree education has been completed, or the latest available mark sheet in case you are in the final year.

Should I get the mark lists attested?
You need not get your mark sheets attested.

Should I start applying to other institutes also or should I wait?
You can start applying to institutes once they start accepting applications.

How many institutes should I target?
The cardinal principle is that to safeguard your interests and reduce your risk, you should apply to institutes in at least three different categories. The categories will themselves depend on your position in the Mock CATs that you are writing.

Let us say that you have decided to apply to seven institutes. First, check where you stand in your AIMCAT scores. What is your percentile score? Let us say you are in 85-95 percentile in TIME AIMCATs. Then apart from the IIMs, you will need to apply to three institutes in A+ category and two institutes in A category.

I have just written my final year exams and I am awaiting results. I have a couple of back papers. When I calculate my aggregate percentage marks till now, should I keep aside my marks for the back papers or should I include them also.
You need to add up marks and all the subjects for which you have received results so far (including the marks of the back papers, while calculating aggregate percentage).

In case you have any more queries about the CAT paper, send an email to info@time4education.com and we will try answering all your queries.

Prepared by TIME Research team. TIME is the leading Training Institute which imparts training & career guidance to student aspirants for competitive tests like CAT / MBA / MCA / BBA / GRE / TOEFL etc. TIME is run by a group of IIIM alumni and has the largest network of 159 centres in 81 cities in India. TIME students achieved 885 selections into IIMs alone in CAT 2008. For more details, log on to www.time4education.com.


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