About CAT


Common Admission Test or CAT is a national-level management entrance test that is conducted across over 160+ cities for candidates aiming to pursue PGP/PGDM/MBA from top A listed B schools of the country. CAT is conducted by one of the IIMs on a rotational basis. The exam is held once a year and mostly in November. It is a computer-based test over a period of two hours. It comprises three sections, namely Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Ability (QA). Each section has a time limit of 40 minutes. Both MCQ and Non-MCQ type of questions are asked.


NOTE: IIMs do not officially announce the syllabus and CAT exam pattern. The exam pattern mentioned in this article is as per last year’s analysis.


Eligibility Criteria for CAT


  • The candidate must hold a Bachelor’s Degree, with at least 50% marks or equivalent CGPA [45% in the case of candidates belonging to the Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST), and Persons with Disability (PwD) categories], awarded by any University or educational institution as incorporated by an Act of Parliament or State legislature in India or declared to be deemed as a University under Section 3 of the UGC Act, 1956, or possess an equivalent qualification recognized by the Ministry of HRD, Government of India.
  • The candidate must have completed a professional degree (CA/CS/ICWA) with the required percentage (SC/ST/PwD candidates should have a minimum of 45%. For General, EWS, and NC-OBC candidates, the minimum is 50%).
  • Candidates appearing for the final year of the bachelor’s degree/equivalent qualification examination and those who have completed degree requirements and are awaiting results can also apply. However, it may be noted that such candidates, if selected, will be allowed to join the program provisionally, only if they submit a certificate from the Principal/Registrar of their University/Institution (issued on or before the date as stipulated by the respective IIM) stating that they have completed all the requirements for obtaining the bachelor’s degree/equivalent qualification on the date of issue of the certificate.


CAT Exam Pattern




Duration of the Exam

 2 Hours (120 Minutes)

Name of the Section

  • Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)
  • Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)
  • Quantitative Aptitude (QA)

Section-wise Duration

  • 40 Minutes for each Section (VARC, DILR, QA).
  • 53 Minutes 20 Seconds for PwD candidates for each section.

Number of Questions

 76 Questions (54 MCQs and 22 Non-MCQs)

Total Marks

 228 marks

Mode of the exam

 Computer-Based Mode (CBT)


CAT Marking Scheme


  • For every right answer, +3 will be awarded
  • For every wrong answer in MCQs, 1 mark will be deducted
  • No negative marks for Non-MCQs
  • For Unattempted questions, no negative marks


Sectional Weightage



Total Questions



Maximum Marks

Sectional time limit

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)





40 mins

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)





40 mins

Quantitative Aptitude (QA)





40 mins






120 mins


CAT Section-wise Syllabus


Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)


Over the past three years, the CAT Verbal Ability section has undergone the most changes in topics and structure. You should prepare for the following important topics based on the topics that appeared in the CAT 2020 exam:


Reading Comprehension: There were 4 passages in the test, 2 of which had 4 questions each and the other 2 had 5 questions each.


Para Summaries, Para Jumbles, and Context Sentences are topics of Non-MCQs.


You should be able to see that many topics are missing from the list above. Remember that the CAT syllabus is not set in stone, so you should prepare for topics that have appeared on the exam in previous years. The CAT Syllabus covered many of the significant topics that have surfaced in recent years, including:


Critical reasoning, paragraph completion, grammar & usage (grammar errors, confusing words, sentence correction, and phrasal verbs), vocabulary (synonym-antonym, cloze passage, analogies or reverse analogies, meaning-usage match, idioms and phrases, secondary shades of meaning, usage, associated words), and verbal reasoning (Fact-Inference-Judgement)


Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)


Data Interpretation: 14 Questions


Logical Reasoning: 10 Questions, All in Sets of 6 & 4 Questions


Data Interpretation topics include - Caselets, Tables, Bar Graphs, Column Graphs, Line Charts, Venn Diagrams, Pie Charts, Combination of two or more types linked to each other


Logical Reasoning topics include - Games & Tournaments, Number and Letter Series, Calendars; Cubes, Clocks, Venn Diagrams, Binary Logic, Seating Arrangement; Syllogism; Logical Matching; Logical Sequence; Logical Connectives; Blood Relations.


Quantitative Aptitude (QA)


Number Systems; LCM and HCF; Profit, Loss and Discount; Percentages; Speed, Time and Distance; Time and Work; Simple and Compound Interest; Ratio and Proportion; Averages; Quadratic Equations; Linear Equations; Complex Numbers; Logarithm; Binomial Theorem; Sequences and Series; Surds and Indices; Inequalities; Probability; Permutation and Combination; Set Theory; Functions; Geometry; Mixtures and Alligations; Trigonometry; Coordinate Geometry; and Mensuration.