CAT Exam Pattern: All You Need To Know

CAT Exam Pattern

The Common Admission Test (CAT) is conducted annually by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) on a rotation basis for granting admission to students in an array of MBA courses offered by top B-Schools of the country. Through the CAT score, you can apply to various institutes like the IIM, IIFT, MDI-Gurgaon, SPJIMR, BITS Pilani, etc. Due to the increase in the number of students appearing for the exam, the competition has become tougher. It thus has become more than important to prepare for the exam thoroughly by reading the best books for CAT. The first step to scoring a high percentile in CAT 2020 is to understand the exam pattern and the syllabus. In this blog, we will share the information related to the CAT exam pattern and syllabus. 

CAT Exam: Syllabus

Before understanding the CAT exam pattern, it is important to go through the syllabus. The primary objective of the CAT exam is to select the best minds out of a pool of candidates to grant admission into the top elite B-School of the country. For this, the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, Aptitude, and Logical Reasoning ability of the candidates are assessed. Given below is the detailed syllabus of the CAT exam: 

Verbal and Reading Comprehension

This section of the CAT exam pattern has witnessed many changes in the last 3 years. Generally, vocabulary topics are asked in the form of fill in the blanks are of High School standard. Referring to CAT 2020, the topics covered in this portion are: 

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Paragraph Summary
  • Para jumble and Misfit Sentence
  • Critical Reasoning
  • Paragraph Completion
  • Grammar and Usage
  • Idioms and Phrases
  • Synonyms and Antonyms
  • Cloze Passage
  • Analogies and Reverse Analogies,

Quantitative Aptitude

Considered as one of the toughest sections of all three, the Quantitative Aptitude portion needs a lot of practice to score well. The topics covered in this section of the CAT exam pattern have been tabulated below:  

Number SystemLCM and HCFProfit, Loss, and Discount related QuestionsPermutation and Combination
Time, Work and, DistanceMixtures and AlligationsSequence and SeriesSurds and Indices
Complex Number and Logarithms
Simple and Compound Interest
Coordinate Geometry and Mensuration
Ratio and Proportion
Quadratic Equation
AveragesLinear Equations

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning 

The Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning section of the CAT exam pattern forms an integral part of the test. The topics from which the questions are framed are as follows:

Number and Letter SeriesCaseletsGraph and charts related questions(Line charts, pie charts, bar graphs)Combinations and Venn diagram
Games and TournamentsCalendarsCubes, clocksBinary Logics
Seating ArrangementSyllogismLogical MatchingLogical Sequences
Logical ConnectivesBlood RelationsTablesColumn charts

Also Read: CAT score vs percentile

CAT Exam Pattern: Overall and Sectional Time Limit

As mentioned above, the CAT exam pattern consists of three sections namely, Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Ability (QA). This computer-based, online exam consists of 100 questions in the form of MCQ’s and Non-MCQ’s. While for every correct answer 1 mark is awarded, there is a penalty of -1 marks for a negative answer. With 60 minutes allotted to each section, the exam has to be completed within 180 mins (3hrs). It is important to note that the candidates will have to solve the exam in a chronological way, starting with section 1. Tabulated below are the number of questions, the time allotted, and the number of MCQ/Non-MCQ questions asked in each section: 

CAT SectionsQuestionsTime allotted
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension(VRAC)3460 mins
Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation(LRDI)3260 mins
Quantitative Aptitude(QA)3460 mins
Total100180 mins

MCQs vs Non-MCQs Questions 

CAT Exam Pattern: SectionsSection NameTotal Number of QuestionsTotal no. of MCQsTotal no. of Non-MCQs
IVerbal Ability and Reading Comprehension34277
IIData Interpretation and Logical Reasoning32248
IIIQuantitative Aptitude342311


Note: In the case of Non-MCQs, there is no negative marking for incorrect answers. 

Hopefully, with this blog, you are now familiar with the CAT exam pattern and the syllabus. If you are preparing for any such competitive and need assistance then you can reach out to our experts at Leverage Edu. Our experienced professionals will help you with building a complete preparation strategy along with equipping you with the best tips and study material to ensure that you sail through your exam with flying colors.

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