Everything You Need to Know About CAT Exam 2021

CAT 2020

For students willing to enter the management domain, CAT or Common Aptitude Test tops among the list of popular management exams. Conducted by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), CAT continues to be a highly recognised competitive exam for MBA aspirants. Every year, more than 3 lakh students prepare to sit for the CAT examination which makes it a tough nut to crack. As a matter of fact, apart from 20 IIMs, CAT score is accepted by more than 100 Business Schools in India. Before you start preparing for the CAT Exam 2021, it is crucial for you to know all the details of the examination from eligibility to important dates, syllabus as well as the selection process. So, we have come up with a comprehensive guide to critically analyse the CAT Exam.

Important Dates for CAT Exam 2021

While planning to clear one of the leading exams in the country, candidates need to have a well-structured plan to support their vision. Knowing all the important dates for CAT Exam 2021 will help students in formulating their plan of action.

Event  Date 
CAT Exam 2021 Notification Releases  31 July 2021
CAT Exam 2021 Registration Begins  04 August 2021
CAT Exam 2021 Registration Closes  22 September 2021
CAT Exam 2021 Admit Card  27 October 2021
CAT Exam 2021 28 November 2021 
CAT Exam 2021 Answer Key Releases Last Week of December 2021
CAT Exam 2021 Result  First Week of January 2022

To successfully conduct the CAT examination and to avoid any sort of overcrowding at the exam centres, official authorities of IIM Indore including Prof Harshal Lowalekar has announced that the CAT exam for the year 2021 will be conducted in more than 425 test centres going to the current situation of a pandemic. 

Pertaining to the situation of COVID and keeping in mind the fact that physical distancing is necessary, the official authorities have decided to conduct exams in three shifts, such as 10:30 am to 12:30 pm, 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm and 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Apart from this, the other major guidelines that candidates have to follow are- 

  • The most important guideline that candidates must follow is that they shall definitely have an identity proof at the entry gates such as driving licence Aadhar card ration card passport PAN card, etc
  • It is mandatory for candidates to maintain social distancing from each other at the point of entry and exit of the test centre.
  • Candidates shall bring their own face mask, hand sanitizer, gloves and transparent water bottle.
  • The body temperature of the candidates will be checked through thermo gun at the entry point of test centres and only the candidates below the qualifying body temperature will be allowed to enter the premises. 
  • It is essential for candidates to sign a declaration and then show it to the test centre staff at the gate to enter the exam centre.
  • Any applicant with symptoms like cough fever and cold will be made to sit in a separate room by adopting adequate safety measures
  • Any other additional guidelines provided by the CAT test centre must be followed by the candidates. 
  • At the registration desk, it will be compulsory for students to sanitize their hands and further the photograph will be captured as a part of the registration process. 
  • During the entire exam, candidates will be under the surveillance of CCTV
  • It is important to note that no piece of jewellery, high heels or shoes will be allowed inside the exam centre.


Below mentioned are the key eligibility requirements for CAT Exam 2021:

  • The candidate should have a bachelor’s degree in any field from a recognized or accredited university. 
  • It is necessary to have an overall percentage of at least 50% or equivalent to apply for the CAT Exam. However, students belonging to SC, ST and PWD categories get a concession of 5%, making the mandatory percentage 45% or equivalent. 
  • Students who are currently in the final year of graduation can also apply for CAT Exam. 

CAT Exam Pattern

As per the latest pattern of CAT Exam 2020, the paper is divided into three main sections – Quantitative Ability, Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning. Candidates get 60 minutes to complete each section. To have a better idea about the number of questions and associated time for the same you can refer to the table given below: 

Section Number of Questions Time in Minutes
Quantitative Ability 34 60
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning 32 60
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension 34 60
Total Time 100 180 

How to Prepare for Competitive Exams?

Syllabus for CAT 2021 Preparation

The CAT Exam comprises 3 broad sections with each of them explained below:

1. Quantitative Aptitude (QA)

The QA section contains questions related to basic mathematics with a 10+2 level of difficulty. Fundamental topics of mathematics like Arithmetics, Geometry, Percentage, Average, Ratio & Proportion, Simple Equations, Word Problems, Quadratic Equations, etc are a part of the QA section of CAT Exam. Most of the questions asked in CAT are application-based.

2. Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)

The DILR section comprises of questions based on the given data which can be in the form of tables, graphs, pictograph, charts or tables. Candidates have to study the given data and answer the given questions accordingly. Logical Reasoning section, on the other hand, includes questions from topics like Network Problems, Seating Arrangement, Ranking and Order, Venn Diagrams, Problems on Cube, etc.

3. Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)

The section of Verbal Ability in CAT Exam contains questions related to the usage of English Grammar. Problems related to Cloze test, arranging paragraphs, completion of a paragraph using suitable words, synonyms, antonyms, words meaning, etc are covered in this particular section. Reading comprehensions are also part of the VARC section. 

Marking Scheme

It is important to note that for every correct answer, plus three is awarded to the candidate, whereas for a wrong answer there is a deduction of 1 mark. Based on that, the total marks for each section are explained below:

Section Total Marks 
Quantitative Ability 102
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning 96
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension 102
Total Marks 300

Application Fee 

While applying for CAT Exam, candidates have to pay a fee to submit their application successfully. Payment for the same can be made online through Debit Card, Net Banking and Credit Card facilities. The application fee amount is described below:

  • General: ₹1900
  • Reserved: ₹950

Selection Process

Based on how a candidate performs in the CAT Exam, a percentile and a score is assigned to them after which the process of selection to your dream business school begins. Here’s a stepwise guide to run you through the selection process of popular business schools in India: 

Step 1: The first step for all candidates is to prepare for the CAT Exam 2020 and secure the highest marks in their potential. After the evaluation of all answer keys, cutoffs are prepared by B-Schools. Candidates meeting set cutoffs are eligible to sit for the next round which would be conducted by that particular B-School. 

Step 2: This includes Group Discussion and Written Ability Test and only those candidates meeting the cutoff for a particular college would be participating in these rounds.

Step 3: The final round for the CAT selection process is a Personnel Interview in which candidates are evaluated on the basis of knowledge, common sense, communication skills, speaking abilities, etc. 

Step 4: After the completion of all the rounds, candidates are given certain scores on the basis of which the counselling process is conducted for the commencement of seat allocation. The following parameters are also considered while formulating an overall score for a candidate: 

– Class 10th Percentage 
– Class 12th Percentage 
– Graduation Percentage 
– Work Experience 

CAT Exam 2021 Expected Cut Off

Every year institutions announce their CAT cut off according to which the candidates can apply to the institution they fall under. All the institutions whether private or government, release their cut off list. Tabulated below are the expected cut off for CAT 2021 of a few IIMs- 

IIM Ahmedabad (Tentative)

Category  VARC DL & LR  QA  Aggregate 
General 70 70 70 80
NC-OBC-cum-Transgender 65 65 65 75
SC 60 60 60 70
ST 50 50 50 60
PWD (General, SC, NC-cum-Transgender, SC) 60 60 60 70
PWD (ST) 50 50 50 60

IIM Bangalore (Tentative)

Category  VARC DL & LR  QA  Aggregate 
General 80 75 75 85
NC-OBC-cum-Transgender 70 65 65 75
SC 70 65 65 75
ST 65 60 60 70
PWD (General, SC, NC-cum-Transgender, SC) 55 55 55 65
PWD (ST) 50 50 50 60

IIM Calcutta (Tentative)

Category  VARC DL & LR  QA  Aggregate 
General 75 80 80 85
NC-OBC-cum-Transgender 65 65 70 75
SC 65 65 70 75
ST 60 60 65 70
PWD (General, SC, NC-cum-Transgender, SC) 55 55 55 65
PWD (ST) 55 55 55 65

Tentative cut off of various colleges and universities across India-

Institutes Expected CAT  2021 cutoff (Percentile) 
Department of Management Studies, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi 98+
Faculty of of Management Studies, University of Delhi 98.20
Shailesh J Mehta School of Management, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay 99+
Management Development Institute, Gurgaon  95+
Department of Management Studies, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras 95+
Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar 90+
S P Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai 85+

Tips to Crack CAT Exam 2021 

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CAT is considered to be one of the toughest exams in India, hence, one must put their best foot forward in order to crack CAT 2021. If you also aspire to attain a reputable management degree from one of the top colleges in India, here are some efficient tips and tricks which will help you ace the CAT examination- 

  • Start your preparation as early as possible and vote ample time in it. End moment preparation is of no good use and may lead to utter confusion. 
  • You must begin by analysing the CAT syllabus. Jot down the syllabus of every section as well as what all concepts are covered under each section through this you will easily get familiar with the concepts that you have to study.
  • Approach every section with level 0. Yes, you must begin your preparation for CAT from scratch. Begin by forming your base on every topic and do not rush at the step. 
  • Make notes and formula sheets for all the sections so that you can quickly revise them even if you are not studying 
  • Out of all the Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning section is considered to be the toughest one, hence, take your time with the section and practice as many questions as you can.  
  • Do not forget to go through the sample papers as well as previous years question paper which will help you have an idea about the upcoming question paper. 


Will CAT be conducted in 2021? 

Yes, for the year 2020 IIM Indore is conducting CAT 2020 examination. As on the official website, CAT 2020 will be conducted on November 29 2020. 

When should I start preparing for CAT 2021? 

To crack the CAT exam you need preparation that is 6 to 8 months long. Once you cover the entire syllabus the given duration,  you may devote at least 1.5- 2 months in thorough revision of the entire syllabus. If you are looking forward to attempting CAT 2020, make sure you wrap up your syllabus by August- September and then for revision. 

What is the fee of the CAT exam? 

The application fee for CAT 2021 is INR 2,000.

Is CAT score valid for 2 years? 

As mentioned on the official website, the validity of CAT score is only 1 year.

Hence, we hope that we cleared all your doubts regarding the CAT Exam 2021. If you are planning to appear for a competitive exam, our Leverage Edu mentors can guide you throughout the preparation process thus helping you ace the test and get successfully shortlisted into your dream university.

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