CAT, or the Common Admission Test, is a computer-based entrance examination that is conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) for admission to their postgraduate management programs. The exam is usually held in November last week every year.
The CAT exam pattern consists of three different sections – Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Ability (QA). The exam is conducted in English and consists of multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and some non-MCQs.
The VARC section tests a candidate’s ability to comprehend and analyze written passages, while the DILR section tests their ability to interpret data and draw logical conclusions. The QA section tests a candidate’s mathematical skills, including arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry.
The CAT exam is considered to be one of the most competitive and challenging management entrance exams in India, and thousands of students appear for it every year. The scores obtained in the CAT exam are used by several prestigious business schools in India, including the IIMs, to shortlist candidates for their management programs.
CAT Exam Pattern Highlights
Here are some of the key highlights of the CAT exam in India presented in table form-
|Exam Name||Common Admission Test (CAT)|
|Conducting Authority||Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs)|
|Exam Mode||Computer-Based Test (CBT)|
|Sections||VARC, DILR, & QA|
|Duration||120 minutes (2 hours)|
|Marking Scheme||+3 for each correct answer, -1 for each incorrect answer (except for non-MCQs)|
|Eligibility Criteria||Bachelor’s degree with minimum 50% marks or equivalent CGPA (45% for SC/ST/PwD candidates)|
|Exam Frequency||Once a year|
|Score Validity||1 year|
CAT Exam Pattern Section Wise
The CAT exam pattern consists of three sections – Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Ability (QA). Each section is separately timed, and the candidates cannot switch between sections during the exam. The following table summarizes the CAT exam pattern section wise –
|Sections of Exam||No of questions||Multiple Choice Questions||Non – MCQs||Time Limit|
CAT Exam Pattern Syllabus
the CAT exam syllabus is designed to test a candidate’s overall aptitude and problem-solving skills. It is important for candidates to have a strong foundation in basic concepts and their applications in order to perform well in the exam. The CAT exam syllabus is not defined by any specific textbook or curriculum. The topics mentioned below are only indicative, and candidates are expected to have a sound understanding of the basic concepts and their applications in real-world scenarios.
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC):
The VARC section of the CAT exam is designed to test a candidate’s English language proficiency and comprehension skills. It consists of questions related to reading comprehension passages, grammar and usage, vocabulary, para-jumbles, para-summary, and verbal reasoning. The reading comprehension passages are typically 500-700 words long, and candidates are expected to read and comprehend them within a limited time frame. The other questions in this section may include identifying errors in sentences, completing sentences, sentence correction, and identifying the main idea of a passage.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC):-
Reading Comprehension: Candidates may be tested on their ability to comprehend and analyze written passages.
Vocabulary: Candidates may be tested on their knowledge of words, synonyms, antonyms, idioms, and phrases.
Grammar and Usage: Candidates may be tested on their understanding of basic grammar rules, including parts of speech, tenses, sentence structure, and punctuation.
Para-jumbles: Candidates may be tested on their ability to rearrange sentences in a logical sequence.
Para-summary: Candidates may be tested on their ability to summarize a passage in a few sentences.
Verbal Reasoning: Candidates may be tested on their ability to analyze and evaluate arguments.
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR):
The DILR section of the CAT exam is designed to test a candidate’s ability to interpret data and analyze logical reasoning. It consists of questions related to data interpretation, data sufficiency, logical reasoning, analytical reasoning, and puzzles. Data interpretation questions may involve analyzing and interpreting data presented in the form of tables, charts, and graphs. Logical reasoning questions may involve identifying patterns, completing sequences, and solving problems based on logical deductions. Analytical reasoning questions may involve analyzing and deducing conclusions from complex problems. Puzzles may involve solving problems based on logic, reasoning, and deduction.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR):
Data Interpretation: Candidates may be tested on their ability to analyze and interpret data presented in the form of tables, charts, and graphs.
Data Sufficiency: Candidates may be tested on their ability to determine whether the given data is sufficient to answer a particular question.
Logical Reasoning: Candidates may be tested on their ability to identify patterns, complete sequences, and solve problems based on logical deductions.
Analytical Reasoning: Candidates may be tested on their ability to analyze and deduce conclusions from complex problems.
Puzzles: Candidates may be tested on their ability to solve problems based on logic, reasoning, and deduction.
Quantitative Ability (QA):
The QA section of the CAT exam is designed to test a candidate’s mathematical skills, including arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. It consists of questions related to number systems, ratio and proportion, percentages, time and work, time, speed and distance, algebra, geometry, mensuration, trigonometry, and probability. The questions in this section may involve basic arithmetic operations, algebraic equations, geometric formulas, and trigonometric functions. Candidates are expected to have a good understanding of basic mathematical concepts and their applications in real-world scenarios.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of Quantitative Ability (QA):
Number Systems: Candidates may be tested on their understanding of number systems and their properties.
Ratio and Proportion: Candidates may be tested on their ability to apply ratio and proportion concepts in real-world scenarios.
Percentages: Candidates may be tested on their understanding of percentages and their applications.
Time and Work: Candidates may be tested on their ability to solve problems related to time and work.
Time, Speed and Distance: Candidates may be tested on their ability to solve problems related to time, speed, and distance.
Algebra: Candidates may be tested on their understanding of algebraic concepts and equations.
Geometry: Candidates may be tested on their understanding of geometric concepts and formulas.
Mensuration: Candidates may be tested on their ability to solve problems related to mensuration.
Trigonometry: Candidates may be tested on their understanding of trigonometric concepts and functions.
Probability: Candidates may be tested on their understanding of probability concepts and their applications.
CAT Exam Pattern Things to Remember
Here are some key things to remember about the CAT 2023 exam pattern:
- The CAT 2023 exam will be conducted in three slots, each lasting two hours. The exam will have three sections – Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning, and Quantitative Ability – with 40 minutes allotted for each section.
- The CAT 2023 exam will be a computer-based test. Candidates will be required to answer the questions on a computer screen and will not be allowed to switch between sections.
- The CAT 2023 exam will be for a total of 198 marks.
- A non-scientific and on-screen calculator will be provided to the candidates for calculations during the exam. However, no other electronic devices will be allowed inside the test room.
- An on-screen timer will be present on the computer screen, which will show the remaining time for each section.
- There is a negative marking of 1 mark for each incorrect answer. It is recommended that candidates attempt only those questions that they are confident about, to avoid negative marking.
- It is essential to practice mock tests regularly to get a feel for the exam pattern and develop time management skills. It is recommended that candidates take at least one mock test every week leading up to the exam.
- Candidates should carry their admit card, photo identity proof, and a recent passport-size photograph to the exam center. It is recommended to reach the exam center at least 30 minutes before the scheduled time to avoid any last-minute rush.
- Candidates should focus on maintaining accuracy while attempting questions and also work on their time management skills. They should aim to attempt all the questions they are confident about within the allotted time for each section.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ques – What is the exam pattern for CAT 2023?
Ans – The exam pattern for CAT 2023 is not yet announced. However, based on previous years’ patterns, the CAT exam is a computer-based test consisting of three sections: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Ability (QA). The total duration of the exam is 120 minutes (2 hours), and each section has a time limit of 40 minutes. The total number of questions is usually around 66.
Ques – How many times is the CAT exam held each year?
Ans – The Common Admission Test (CAT) exam is held once a year, and it typically takes place on the last Sunday of November. This means that candidates who plan to take the exam have to wait for an entire year to take it again if they miss the opportunity or are unable to secure a satisfactory score. In 2022, the CAT exam was held on November 27. It is important to note that the official announcement of the CAT 2023 exam date will be made on July 31, following which the registration process will commence. Therefore, candidates need to keep themselves updated with the latest information about the exam dates and registration process to avoid missing out on this critical opportunity.
Ques – Is there any negative marking in the CAT exam pattern?
Ans – Yes, there is negative marking in the CAT exam pattern. For each incorrect answer, there is a penalty of one mark. This means that for every wrong answer, one mark is deducted from the total score. However, it is important to note that there is no negative marking for unattempted questions or non-MCQs. Therefore, candidates should carefully choose the questions they want to attempt and only answer the ones they are confident about to avoid negative markings. It is advisable to leave questions that one is unsure about rather than risk losing marks through incorrect answers.
Ques – Are students permitted to bring a calculator to the CAT exam?
Ans – No, A calculator or any electronic device is strictly prohibited inside the CAT exam centre. However, candidates can use the onscreen calculator available on their computer system during the exam. It is advised to improve mental calculation skills to avoid relying too much on the calculator, which may consume valuable time during the test.
Ques – Can students take the CAT Exam on any computer?
Ans – No, The CAT exam must be taken by the candidates only at the designated examination center mentioned on their admit card. It is mandatory for the candidates to appear for the exam at the allotted center. The details of the exam center will be mentioned on the CAT admit card, which the candidates can download from the official website. It is advisable for the candidates to reach the exam center well before the reporting time mentioned on the admit card to avoid any last-minute hassle. Candidates must carry their admit card and a valid photo ID proof to the exam center for verification purposes.
Ques – How does the computer-based format differ from the paper-based (PBT) format?
Ans – The computer-based format and paper-based (PBT) format of the CAT exam differ in their mode of answering. In computer-based mode, candidates read the questions on a computer screen and choose the correct answer from the given options or type the answer where no options are available. The computer screen displays a timer to indicate the remaining time to complete the current question. On the other hand, in PBT mode, candidates need to read the questions from a paper booklet and darken the ovals in an answer sheet using a pencil.
Ques – What is the difficulty level of the CAT exam?
Ans – The CAT exam is known for its high difficulty level. However, the difficulty level of the exam can vary from year to year. The exam is designed to test the candidate’s analytical and problem-solving skills.
Ques – During the CAT exam, can students choose how they want to answer each question?
Ans – A: There is no negative marking for unattempted questions in CAT 2023. Only incorrect answers are penalized with a deduction of 1 mark. Therefore, candidates can avoid the risk of negative marking by leaving questions that they are not sure about or cannot answer confidently. It is better to focus on attempting the questions that can be answered accurately within the allotted time.
Ques – Can students choose their preferred test slot for the CAT 2023 exam?
Ans – No, the exam authorities will allot the CAT 2023 exam slots to candidates based on a first-come, first-served basis. Candidates must appear for the CAT 2023 exam only at the designated exam centre and at the allotted test slot. The test slot and exam centre details will be mentioned on the CAT 2023 admit card, which candidates can download after registering for the exam.