What is sectional cutoff in CAT exam?


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Many B-schools have fixed overall cutoffs as shortlisting criteria for CAT candidates, while other colleges require you to clear sectional cutoff as well. CAT Cutoff comprises overall cutoff and sectional cutoff. You need to clear a minimum cutoff in all three sections in CAT question paper to clear sectional cutoff. In your CAT score card, you also find your sectional percentiles along with overall percentiles.

These cutoffs refer to the minimum percentile you need to get to qualify for the next round of interviews. Many top colleges like IIMs, NITIE verify your sectional cutoffs besides the overall cutoffs. Lakhs of students in India appear for CAT examination to get into the IIMs as well as other top B-schools in India. Only successful candidates clearing the sectional and overall cutoff score set by the admission authorities will be shortlisted for subsequent selection process. Every B-school has their own cutoffs which you need to clear to appear for the interviews.

The cutoffs in the CAT exam vary every year. This is due to the change in the number of test takers, total number of seats in the institutes, difficulty levels of the exam, and many more. Besides this, the reputation of the institute and the number of students qualifying for the next rounds are also detrimental factors. The main difference between the overall cutoff and sectional cutoff is that for overall cutoffs, you strong performance in one section ensures that your entire percentile will be good. While for sectional cutoffs you need to do well in each of these three sections. That is why sectional cutoffs are much lower than the overall cutoffs. For IIMs like Ahmedabad and Bangalore, the overall cutoff is above 99 percentile, while the sectional cutoffs are 70-80 percentile.

CAT 2018 examination was organized by IIM Calcutta and the answer keys for both the section has already been released. Also, out of 20 IIMs, 10 IIMs have already released their cutoffs. These include the top IIMs like Ahmedabad, Bangalore, and Calcutta. The cutoffs help in determining the minimum percentile required for the next round of selection process. Further, the sectional cutoffs signify that the candidate has done better in all the 3 sections. Here are the sectional cutoffs for the last few years. Every year the percentile keeps changing. But the cutoffs below will give you an insight into the overall trend in last couple of years as well as indication of your chances of getting shortlisted for the next round.

College name QA DI LR VA Overall
IIM A 70 70 70 80
IIM B 85 80 80 90
IIM C 80 80 80 90
IIM L 85 85 85 90
IIM I 80 80 80 90
NITIE 90 90 90 95

These were some of the sectional cutoffs for top colleges. Based on the past years, here are the predictions for this year B-schools.

College name Expected cutoff
IIM A 98
IIM B 99
IIM C 98
IIM L 97
IIM I 92
FMS Delhi 98
MDI 94
IMT Ghaziabad 90

Based on these overall and sectional cutoffs you can plan approach more efficiently when you apply to the colleges. Further, you can also search for colleges that do not have sectional cutoffs.

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