CAT Exam

Knowing the CAT exam pattern is one of the most basic steps in CAT exam preparations. If you are well-versed with all the details of the CAT exam, it will be easier for you to plan your CAT preparation better. Through this article, you will get all the necessary details about the CAT exam pattern and you shall be ready to prepare for the CAT exam.

CAT Exam Overview

The CAT exam is one popular exam among CAT aspirants. It is important to know about the exam before applying for it. 

Name of the ExaminationCommon Admission Test (CAT)
Conducting BodyIndian Institute of Management (IIMs)
CAT 2023 Exam DateNovember 2023
FrequencyOnce a year
Mode of ExaminationOnline, CBT
Duration120 Minutes (2 Hours)
Sectional TimingYes; 40 Minutes per Section.
Question Count66 Questions
Total Marks198 Marks
Marking Scheme3 Marks for every correct answer.1 Mark deduction for every incorrect answer.
Total SectionsThree SectionsReading Comprehension and Verbal Ability (VARC)Quantitative Aptitude (QA)Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)

CAT Notification: Timeline

The CAT exam is held in November each year.  The registration process begins around August. The aspirants are given ample time to register for the exam. Here is the table that will provide you with the timeline for important CAT events. 

CAT 2023 Notification ReleaseLast week of July 2023
CAT 2023 Registration StartsThe first week of August 2023
CAT 2023 Registration EndsLast week of September 2023
CAT 2023 Admit Card Download BeginsLast week of October 2023
CAT 2023 Test DayNovember 2023

CAT Exam Pattern

The CAT Exam follows a distinct exam pattern. The CAT exam pattern is announced on the official website of the CAT exam. Aspirants can get all the details regarding the CAT exam through the official notification. 

CAT Exam Pattern: Mode and Medium

The CAT exam is conducted at designated exam centres. The exam is conducted online. The test is computer-based. The aspirants are assigned desktops, post registration at the centre. Each candidate must sit on their assigned desktop and appear for the exam. The question flashes on the screen and the candidates select the most appropriate answer using a mouse. The medium of instruction and the questions are in English. Therefore the candidates must know the language to sit for the exam. 

CAT Exam Pattern: Exam Duration

The CAT exam is a time-bound exam. Aspirants are expected to attempt all the questions in the stipulated time. The exam duration is 120 minutes i.e. 2 hours. Other than the overall time duration, there is sectional timing involved too. The aspirants are given 40 minutes to complete each section. Due to sectional timings, the candidates cannot switch between sections. Timing is another important aspect of the CAT exam and thereby highly impacts the candidates’ performance in the exam.

CAT Exam Pattern: Question Count

The CAT exam has a fixed number of questions. This year the CAT exam question count is expected to be 66 questions. The questions will be distributed among 3 sections of the CAT Exam. 

S.No.CAT SectionQuestion Count
VARC; Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension 24 Questions
QA; Quantitative Ability22 Questions
DILR; Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning20 Questions
Total Question Count66 Questions

CAT Exam Pattern: Important Topics

The CAT exam assesses the candidates on various parameters. The ultimate intention is to judge whether or not the candidate has the aptitude for managerial studies. It is difficult to determine the syllabus for the CAT exam. However, the previous years’ exam analysis has shown, some topics appear more frequently than others. Therefore, these topics are considered important from an exam point of view. The important topics for each section are given below.

S.No. CAT SectionImportant Topics
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)TableCaseletsBar GraphsLine chartsColumn GraphsVenn diagramPie ChartsCalendarsNumber and Letter SeriesClocksVenn DiagramsSeating ArrangementBinary LogicLogical MatchingLogical sequenceSyllogismLogical ConnectivesBlood relations
Quantitative Aptitude (QA)Number SystemProfit, Loss and DiscountLCM and HCFSpeed, Time and DistancePercentagesTime and WorkRatio and proportionsAveragesQuadratic Equations and Linear EquationsComplex NumbersSimple and Compound InterestLogarithmSequences and SeriesInequalitiesProbabilitySurd and IndicesSet Theory & FunctionPermutation and CombinationMixtures and AlligationsTrigonometryCoordinate GeometryMensuration
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)English GrammarVocabulary-based (Synonyms and Antonyms)Fill in the blanksSentence CorrectionClose PassageJumbles ParagraphMeaning-usage matchAnalogies or Reverse analogiesSummary QuestionsVerbal reasoningFacts-Inferences- JudgementsReading Comprehension

CAT Exam Pattern: Marking Scheme

The CAT exam follows a specific marking mechanism. The scheme includes rewarding marks for correct responses and deducting marks for incorrect responses. The marking is done in the following manner.

S.No. Type of ResponseMarking Scheme
Incorrect ResponseDeduction of 1 mark
Correct Response3 Marks are awarded
No ResponseNo marks are assigned.

Keeping the marking scheme in mind, each question is marked and the scores are added up to get the

By Caroline Baum

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