CAT Exam

What is CAT Exam?

CAT or Common Admission Test is the MBA entrance exam for admissions into IIMs and other top B-Schools of India. CAT is a skill test which is computer based, and is always conducted by one of the Indian Institute of Management in India. Generally, every year around 200,000+ students appear for the test. This normally happens in the last week of November month every year. The notification for the test is published by the end of July or beginning of August month. The test is for the admission to the post graduate management courses in IIMs and other Business Schools in India.

Other Business schools have their own criteria to accept CAT appeared candidates IIMs have no role in the selection process of non-IIM institutions. CAT is considered the most prestigious admission test for PGP/PGDM/MBA and similar management courses offered by IIMs and non-IIMs colleges in India. There are 20 IIMs in India that offer various courses for admission.

CAT Exam Information

CAT Exam Conducting BodyIndian Institutes of Management
Mode of ExamComputer Based Standardized Test
Exam Application StatusCAT Registration started. Important Dates for CAT Exam has been announced.
Admit Card StatusCAT Admit Card 2021 is released. You can Download it Now.
Result UpdatedCAT Exam 2021 Result is expected to be announced in second week of January, 2022
Exam Pattern and DurationDuration of CAT Exam is 3 hours. Check in detail what is in the CAT Exam Syllabus and Pattern
Exam CentresCAT Exam is conducted at 354 centres in 99 cities over India. Check the List of CAT Exam Centres
Colleges Accepting CAT Score Card100+ Top MBA Colleges of India including 20 IIMs accept CAT Score Card

Who can take CAT Exam?

The candidate must satisfy the following conditions:

  • The candidate should have a graduation degree of minimum three year duration, having not less than 50% marks, 45% in case of Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST) and Persons with Disability (PWD) /Differently Abled (DA).
  • The graduation degree should have been granted by any of the universities formed by an act of the parliament or assembly (central or state statutory body in India) or other educational establishments constructed by an act of Parliament or announced to be deliberated as a university under Section 3 of the UGC Act, 1956, or retain an equal qualification documented by the Ministry of Education, Govt. of India.
  • Candidates appearing for the final year of graduation degree/equivalent qualification examination and the individuals who have finished degree requisites and are expecting results can also apply. On selection, such students will be permitted to join the program provisionally, and they need to present a certificate by June 30, from the principal/registrar of their college/institute mentioning that the student has finished all the requirements for acquiring four-year or three-year degree.

Why MBA Aspirants Must Appear For CAT Exam?

The most important reason why MBA aspirants should appear for CAT exam is to get admission in top prestigious colleges like IIMs, IITs, FMS, IMT, etc. These top institutes not only provides the best management programmes for students, but also the placements into top companies offering high salary packages. 


  • Candidates appearing for CAT must hold a bachelor’s degree with at least 50% marks or equivalent CGPA (45% incase of SC, ST or Disability(PWD) category) from recognized university/institution/college. (not applicable for CAT 2021)
  • Candidates appearing for the final year of bachelor’s degree/equivalent qualification or awaiting for results are also eligible to apply. However, if such candidate got selected then they will be allowed to join the programm provisionally, only when they submit a certificate issued by the authorized person (principal/registrar) stating that the selected student have completed all the requirements for obtaining the bachelor’s degree/equivalent qualification on the date of issue of the certificate.
  • Candidate should fulfill any of the following
    • Completed Bachelor’s degree with the required percentage of marks.
    • Completed professional degree (CA/CS/ICWA) with required percentage.
    • Should be in the final year of Bachelor’s degree with required percentage.
    • SC/ST/PwD candidates should have a minimum 45%. For General, EWS and NC-OBC candidates, the minimum is 50%
  • If a candidate belongs to SC or ST categories the respective caste/tribe must be listed in the government of india schedule. The caste certificate should be submits to IIM in approved format
    • Name of the caste/tribe
    • Weather candidates belongs to SC or ST
    • District and Stated or union territory of the candidate
    • A copy of the certificate must be submitted at the time of CAT application registration.
    • Candidate must submit the photocopy of the certificate at the time of interview. Moreover candidates must submit the document at the time of joining the program at any of the IIMs.


  • As per the government norms 15% of the seats are reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) and 7.5% for Schedule Tribe (ST) Candidates and 27% seats are reserved for Other Backward Classes belonging to the ‘non-creamy’ layer (NC-OBC). Up to 10% seats are reserved for (EWS) candidates.
  • No changes in the category will be entertained after CAT registration.
  • As per the government norms for The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (RPwD Act 2016), 5% seats are reserved for Persons with Benchmark Disabilities (PwD – person with not less than forty percent (40%) of a specified disability ). Where “Specified disability” means the disabilities as specified in the Schedule of the RPwD Act 2016. The categories of disability are:
    • Blindness and low vision
    • Deaf and hard of hearing
    • Locomotor disability including cerebral palsy, leprosy cured, dwarfism, acid attack victims and muscular dystrophy.
    • Autism, intellectual disability, specific learning disability and mental illness
    • Multiple disabilities from amongst persons under clauses (a) to (d)
    • Other ‘specified disabilities’ mentioned in ‘The Schedule’ of the RPwD Act 2016

CAT Syllabus – 2021

There is no syllabus for CAT.

Yes! You heard it right. In fact IIMs have not prescribed any syllabus for CAT till now. Instead, IIMs released an official Mock Test which is precisely on upcoming CAT outline and comprises of question types which are anticipated in real Common Admission Test.

As per IIMs, “The CAT doesn’t have a defined syllabus for CAT preparation. However, you can attempt the mock test to understand the pattern of examination and types of questions.”

What we can guess is:
  • From the mock test loaded by the IIM on IIM CAT website and
  • From the examination pattern followed in the past.
Based on the above two pieces of information the CAT 2021 may have the following pattern:

What is in the CAT Syllabus?

As is mentioned above there is no official CAT syllabus released by IIMs or any authenticated source. Our teams working on syllabus who are IIM alumni and CAT experts have suggested the syllabus could be as below:

CAT Syllabus: An overview

The CAT Syllabus is divided in three parts:
  • VARC (Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension)
  • DILR (Data Interpretation& Logical Reasoning)
  • QA (Quantitative Ability)
Further, the 3 sections are divided into multiple choice questions (MCQs) and Non-MCQs. VARC & DILR are further sub divided into 2 subs-sections.
  • Consequently, the total effective section may be counted as five.
  • Complete Structure of CAT 2021

CAT 2021 – The Complete Composition

CAT 2021 will be conducted on November 28, 2021 (Sunday) in three sessions.

Based on the CAT pattern 2020 we expect the same pattern of questions although CAT website is silent on that.

The following will be the pattern of CAT 2021

  • The duration of the test will be 120 minutes.
    • Section I: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
    • Section II: Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning
    • Section III: Quantitative Ability
  • Candidates will be allotted exactly 40 minutes for answering questions in each section and they will not be allowed to switch from one section to another while answering questions in a section.
  • Tutorials to understand the format of the test will be available on the CAT website.Candidates are advised to work on the tutorials available on the CAT website well in advance.

CAT 2020 – The Complete Composition

CAT Complete Syllabus:

Total number of questions: 76
Maximum Time: 120 Min.

  • VARC: 26 questions on specific topics, maximum time permitted 40 min.
  • DILR: 24 questions, maximum time permitted 40 min.
  • QUANT: 26 questions, focus on Arithmetic, maximum time permitted 40 min.
16 Non-MCQs Out of 76 Questions
  • VARC – 5
  • DILR – 5
  • QA – 6

Marking Scheme: For every correct answer student will get +3 marks and for a wrong answer -1. No negative marking for Non-MCQs

CAT Past Trends

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)
  • 5 RC passages, followed by 24 questions based on inferences, statements, arguments, main idea, author’s assumption, vocabulary – synonyms, antonyms, meaning of the phrase as present in the passage.
  • 10 questions based on Para Summary. Jumbled Paragraphs of 4 sentences, Jumbled Paragraphs of 5 sentences, followed by questions of pick the odd one out.
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)
  • Questions come in sets of 4-5, both in DI and LR.
    • 16 questions in DI, based on Data Analysis, Data comparison from Table, Graphs, Bar graphs, Pie charts, Data Caselets.
    • 16 questions in LR, based on Direction sense, Team formation, Seating Arrangement, Blood Relation.
Quantitative Ability (QA)
  • 50% questions are based on Arithmetic topics like Number System, Ratio, Percentage, Interest, Profit & Loss, Speed & Distance, Time & Work, and others.
  • Rest 50% is covered by topics on Geometry, Algebra, Mensuration, and Modern Math.

Syllabus for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)

Section Highlights: Common Admission Test (CAT) for VARC section is divided into 2 parts. The 1st part of CAT syllabus covers topics on Reading Comprehension passages and the 2nd part of syllabus on VARC covers topics on Verbal Ability.

Part-1: Syllabus for Reading Comprehension (RC)
  • Current affairs making impact on Social Life, International Affairs, Govt policies and Schemes, i.e., Triple Talaq, CAA, COVID 19 Pandemic, Clean India Mission, Migration of people from one country to other, Growing intolerance across the Globe.
  • Business & Economic RC Passages, i.e., Global economic changes, economic development at the cost of environment, Impact of Demonetization in India, Wasteful expenditure by Governments.
  • RC passages from various English Literature books, from articles authored by great philosophers and thinkers, from speeches of great personalities like Charles Dickens, Aristotle, Martin Luther King, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Churchill, etc.
  • Passages on Science & Culture including the journey to Modern world; Fading culture with the advancement of technology
  • Abstract topics and fiction are also included in the Reading Comprehension Syllabus for CAT.

These passages make the candidates to put themselves in the author’s shoes before answering the questions since they are opinion based.

  • RC Passages on Historical events leading to social changes, i.e., French Revolution, War of Roses, Social changes in Indian History and thoughts shared by various activists which are relevant even in current times.
  • RC Passages from Mythology.

These passages try to correlate the Mythological events with the current social structure and answers to these questions must be inferred

Key Facts on RC Syllabus in CAT & Type of questions

RC passage on any topic ‘under the Sun’ can be placed in CAT exam.

Number of Questions: 24
Sectional Weightage in CAT: 34%
Type of passages in CAT Exam on RC: 3 Long and 2 Short.
Division of questions: 6 questions based on each long passage and 3 questions based on each short passage. Sometimes, a uniform number of 5 questions is followed for 4 RC passages and 4 questions for 1 RC Passage.
Type of Questions: All MCQ type with 1/3rd negative marking.
Format of Questions: Questions based on information in RC passage; explanation of the words & phrases as used in the passage; in context of the passage – True/False statements; Author’s view on various issues as raised in the RC passage; Inference from the passage; main idea of RC passage; Purpose of the RC passage
Length of RC passages in CAT: Longer RC passages are of somewhere around 900 words; shorter passages are of around 600 words in CAT exam as revealed in last 3 years.
Formal style of topics in RC Syllabus for CAT: Genetics, Second World War; Plastic Pollution; Elephant society; Consumer Behaviour; Status of Languages in 2115; Education System; Sustainable Economic Development; Anthropology /Excruciating Rituals & Reasons; Govt. definition of Poverty and treatment of Household work.

Part-2: Syllabus for Verbal Ability

Essence of short paragraph/Para summary – (3-4 questions).
Jumbled Paragraphs (3-4 questions)
Out of Context Sentence in Jumbled Paragraphs (2-3 questions)
Error Correction of Verb, Noun, Pronoun, Adjective, Adverb, and other Parts of Speech in the Sentences.
Correcting the sequence of sentences in the paragraph, i.e., correct use of conditional sentence, time clauses, reported speech, passive writing, etc.
Vocabulary usage – picking the correct pair of words
Vocabulary usage in RC passages – look for correct synonyms and antonyms

Fill in the blanks with correct terminology words
  • Completion of last sentence of Paragraphs
  • Analogies
  • Critical Reasoning
  • Sentence Completion
  • Facts, Inference and Judgement
  • Irrelevant Statements
  • Phrasal Verbs Usage
Key Facts on Verbal Ability Syllabus in CAT & Type of questions

Number of Questions: 10
Sectional Weightage in CAT: 10%
Type of Questions: All Non-MCQ type with No penalty for wrong answer
Format of questions: Crux of paragraph questions are based on around 5-6 sentences; Questions on Jumbled Paragraphs and Out of Context Jumbled Paragraphs that carries 4 -5 jumbled sentences which are to be arranged in a coherent manner. The Out of Context sentences must be selected.

Syllabus for Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)

Section Highlights: CAT Syllabus and pattern for Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) has been refurbished. As a separate section in CAT exam, DILR was re-originated after keeping the section in abeyance for 4 years. During this period, the DILR questions were clubbed to Quant and Verbal Ability sections, respectively.

Syllabus for DILR section in CAT is divided in 2 parts – Syllabus for Data Interpretation and Syllabus for Logical Reasoning. The 1st part of CAT syllabus covers questions based on Data Interpretation (DI) and the 2nd part is based on questions, on different topics of Logical Reasoning.

Part-1: Syllabus for Data Interpretation (DI)
  • Data Tables
  • Data charts
  • Bar diagrams & Charts including Simple, Stacked, Composite Bar charts
  • Pie charts
  • Graphs – Line X-Y Graphs
  • Data analysis and Data comparison among others
  • Caselet based Data
Key Facts on Data Interpretation Syllabus in CAT & Type of questions

Number of Questions: 16 divided into MCQs and Non- MCQs
Sectional weightage in CAT: 16%
Former style of topics in CAT Syllabus for DI: Table; Films: Launch, Completion, Release and Profits; Table on Consumption of Veg and Non-Veg Protein; Happiness Index: 4 questions based on Table; Kids Learning in Rural Areas: Data table based 4 questions; Flight operation questions, in the set of 4 questions.
Questions on Data Interpretation and analysis of data based on text, tables, graphs (line, area), charts (column, bar, pie), Venn diagram. Data could be given in the form of tables, charts, or graphs.
This section tests candidate’s interpretation abilities on the given data.

Part-2: CAT Syllabus for Logical Reasoning (LR)
  • Clocks
  • Calendars
  • Binary logic
  • Seating Arrangement
  • Blood Relations (Family Tree)
  • Logical Sequence
  • Assumption
  • Premise
  • Conclusion
  • Linear and matrix arrangement
  • Team Formation
  • Direction sense and Decision Making
  • Input-Output
  • Series
  • Syllogism
  • Cubes
  • Rows
  • Set Theory, Venn Diagrams, Network Diagrams
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Puzzles
  • Logical Reasoning based on Rankings
  • Critical Reasoning
Key Facts on Logical Reasoning Syllabus in CAT & Type of questions

CAT entrance exam syllabus classifies, that questions in LR section can be individual or can be in the set of 4 questions.

Total LR questions in CAT: 16
Weightage of LR Syllabus questions in CAT exam: 16%
Type of Questions: MCQs & Non MCQs

Formal style of topics in LR Syllabus: Distribution/Arrangement; Venn Diagrams; Arrangement of files in folders; Students using various Trains and the fares for the same; Seating Arrangement; Direction sense for Cars; Ordering items; Burgers/Fries/ Ice Cream

Syllabus for Quantitative Ability (QA)

Section Highlight: The syllabus for Quant section is overly broad. Quantitative Ability (Quant) is the 3rd and final section in the refurbished CAT exam pattern. The syllabus and pattern for Quant is vast and covers everything in Mathematics, that you may or may not expect. CAT exam syllabus on Quant is based on questions from different topics of Arithmetic, Algebra, Modern Math, Geometry, Mensuration, Trigonometry, etc.

Syllabus for Quantitative Ability
  • LCM and HCF
  • Percentages
  • Profit and Loss
  • Interest (Simple and Compound)
  • Speed, Time, and Distance; Time and Work; Averages; Ratio and Proportion and others
  • Number System (3-4 questions)
  • Algebra (5-7 questions)
  • Geometry/Mensuration (6-8 questions)
  • Pure Math (1-2 questions)
  • Venn diagrams and other topic-based (2-3 questions)
  • Linear Equations; Quadratic Equations
  • Complex Numbers
  • Logarithm; Progressions
  • Binomial Theorem
  • Surds and Indices
  • Inequalities
  • Permutation and Combination
  • Probability Functions
  • Set Theory
  • Mixtures and Alligations
  • Co-ordinate Geometry
  • Trigonometry
Key Facts on Quantitative Ability Syllabus in CAT & Type of questions

Total Number of Questions: 34.
Sectional weightage in CAT: 34%
Type of Questions: MCQs and Non-MCQs
Formal style shows that there were 24 to 27 MCQs and 7 to 10 Non-MCQs in Quant section of CAT exam
Emphasis on Arithmetic to boost academic variety.
Number of questions in Arithmetic: 10 to 12

CAT Exam pattern and duration

The minimum qualification for appearing in CAT is graduation in any discipline from any recognized University or equivalent recognized degree. A final year student in any undergraduate can also appear provisionally.

TypeComputer-Based Standardized Test
AdministratorIndian Institutes of Management
Skills testedQuantitative Aptitude, Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning, Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
PurposeAdmission to post-graduate management programs
Duration120 Mins
Score range100 to 300
Score validity1 year
OfferedOnce a year in November
CentresCAT 2021 will be conducted in 158 cities. Candidates will be given the option to choose six optional cities.
Annual number Of test takers2,30,000 in 2020
FeeRs 2200/ for general category candidates. 1100 for SC / ST / DA (PWD) category candidates

CAT Exam Requirement


You cannot prepare for CAT without CAT Section wise Syllabus Each section in CAT exam is unique and equally important. The unique weightage system is what matters for shortlisting process of IIMs. If you do not score required percentile in any of the three sections, you will not be shortlisted by any IIM. So, it is important to be aware of complete syllabus and prepare accordingly. It would be beneficial if you do not leave any topic unread.

It would be extremely difficult to proceed with the preparation of CAT without acknowledging the syllabus first. Syllabus for CAT is extremely wide and requires special focus. It is advised that you download the syllabus and go through it first so that you can clear idea of weightage to get into your preferred B-Schools.

Important Points about CAT Entrance Exam Syllabus

CAT MBA syllabus is based on the guidelines and current structure of CAT exam.
CAT Exam has never had any limitations, and this also relates to the CAT exam syllabus. The syllabus is based on recent developments in CAT exams and the syllabus is the outcome of the topics which have earlier appeared in CAT exam although the type of questions, their composition, format and number may change in each subsequent CAT exam.
Past tendencies indicate that CAT MBA syllabus and pattern overall tests the candidate on Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension; Quantitative Aptitude; Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning.
The syllabus covers all the major topics in three test sections which are further divided into sub-sections.
The main point in syllabus is that there is no recurrence of CAT questions in any CAT exam although difficulty level of the questions in CAT exam would not go out of the syllabus.
The syllabus is available online for download at various websites.
The Syllabus keeps changing after each CAT exam. It may be changed again based on CAT exam pattern. What appeared in last year CAT question paper may get not be a part of this year’s syllabus.
Note: IIM entrance exam syllabus is not pre-defined by CAT.

CAT Syllabus Alterations:

Yearly Changes
The CAT question paper with 100 test questions of MCQ and Non-MCQ type is based on updated topics included in CAT syllabus. You will be able to crack CAT with high score, if you prepare in accord with the modified exam syllabus.

Every year, the Syllabus and pattern is revised by CAT experts with expected changes in CAT exam pattern and the topics. After this practice, the syllabus is updated section wise.


  • Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), University of Delhi

  • Indian School of Business, Hyderabad

  • Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT)

  • Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies (JBIMS)

  • National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE)

  • P. Jain Institute of Management & Research (SPJIMR)

  • XLRI Xavier School of Management (XLRI)

  • TAXILA – Jaipur

  • Indian Institute of Management Indore (IIMI)