How to calculate percentile?

Process to calculate percentile

Hmm, so this is the most searched keyword since the competitive exams like IIT JEE, NTA NET etc started giving percentile marks based on the performance.

So let’s find out how to calculate percentile. But before we jump into the ocean, we must know how to swim. Do you know how to swim?

I mean do you know actually what is percentile is? Do you know the difference between percentage and percentile?

If not, then you don’t need to worry. I’m going to explain the difference between percentage and percentile before we move forward to the ocean.


Percentage means per hundred or out of every hundred. Imagine you got 300 marks out of 600, then if you want to find out how many marks you get out of every 100 then you can calculate percentage as follows

Percentage =

( Marks obtained/ Maximum Marks) × 100

If you do this you will get

Percentage = (300/600) × 100

                = 50%

So you got 50% marks. Which means you got 50 marks per hundred marks.

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So percentage gives the measure of your individual performance. Simple? Now let’s move forward to percentile. 


How to Calculate Percentile

Percentile gives the measure of percentage of scores below a certain score. Or in simple terms it gives you the percentage of people behind you in the exam.

It takes your individual score into account to find out you collective performance i.e. it tells you how many people scored less than you or how many people got less marks than you. 

So if you get 70 percentile, it means 70 percent of people of appeared for the examination have scored less than your score.

Sounds simple? Yes, it is simple. Now let us see how to calculate percentile.

Percentile =

( No. Of candidates who scored less than or equal to candidate ‘X’ / Total number of candidates who appeared for the exam ) × 100


Your score = 90

Maximum marks=100

The no. of students who appeared for a particular exam = 100

The no. of students behind you or who scored less marks than you = 98

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Your percentile will be 

PERCENTILE = (98/100) × 100 = 98

Which means 98 percent of students who appeared for the exam scored less than 90 marks i.e. less marks than yours.

Let us take another example to understand how to calculate percentile.

Suppose you got 30 marks out of 100 in a particular exam.

Total number of candidates be 180.

Also, candidates who score less than or equal to 30 = 90

Then your percentile = (90/180) × 100 = 50

Which means 50 percentage of total no. of candidates who appeared for the exam are behind you or scored less than you i.e. scored less than 30 marks.

Now let us understand why do we need percentile now, why Ranks is not sufficient now. Why not just gives ranks to candidates, let’s see that.

So earlier, exams were conducted offline and on the same day everyone gave the exam but now more and more exams are being conducted online. And in online exams they conduct it in batches.

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So few batch complain that they got tough paper than the other batches, so it would be unfair if they treat every batch equally and gave rank according to that.

So every batch candidates get percentile and then those are compared from the other batches and the procedure is continued to give Ranks to people.

Also, Percentile is calculated for different subjects also. So that if two candidates get same overall percentile then their different subject’s percentile will be taken into account to find out who will get the seat.

Percentiles are calculated upto 7 places or so in some exams so that same percentile is not given to a large no. of people.

Percentile is easier as it is easy to say people below a certain percentile are allowed for the interview than to tell everyone’s rank. But still different examinations have different criteria to allot seats to the candidates. And all are fair, so don’t think it is unfair by any means.

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