CAT Exam Pattern and Syllabus

CAT exam is a very competitive exam conducted in India for the admission into top B-schools of India like IIMs the management aspirants must score a good percentile to get into these colleges.  The exam is conducted online every year by the IIMs on a rotation basis. The test enables the top institutes to choose the best out of the crowd for their MBA programs. Cat syllabus is very vast and covers all the general topic even-though they do not follow a fixed pattern the topics is based middle school Math and English topics. There is three important section in the syllabus are Quantitative Ability, Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation. In this article we discuss in detail the CAT exam syllabus and pattern which are very significant.

CAT Exam Syllabus

The percentile candidate score for the exam is prerequisite for admission to prestigious institute like IIMs, Indian Institute of Technology (IITs), National Institute of Technology(NITs), Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and other top institutions. An admission into these B-school can pave the way to dream career. So, the candidate must make significant effort and well-prepared strategy for preparation which can help to score required percentile. It is often said that the CAT exam is more engineer-friendly, but the fact is that other than QA there is no other section that a non-engineering student can understand. And also the QA section basically includes the topics everyone learned in the 6-10 classes, which covers basics.

The IIMs officially do not publish the common syllabus for the exam but the experts over the years based on the pattern of questions asked prepares the detailed syllabus to be covered. The updated syllabus of CAT exam is given below:

Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Quantitative Ability
Tables English Usage or Grammar Number System
Caselets Synonyms/Antonyms Profit, Loss and Distance
Bar graphs Fill in the Blanks Percentage
Line Charts Sentence Correction Time and Work
Column Graphs Cloze Passage Ratio and Proportion
Venn Diagrams Jumbled Paragraph Averages
Pie Chart Meaning-Usage Match Quadratic Equation & Linear Equation
Calendars Analogies or Reverse Analogies  Complex Numbers
Number and Letter Series Summary Questions Simple and Compound Interest
Clocks Verbal Reasoning Logarithm
Cubes Facts-Inference Judgements Sequences and Series
Venn Diagram Reading Comprehension Inequalities
Searing Arrangement Probability
Binary Logic Surds and Indices
Logical Sequence Set Theory & Functions
Syllogism Permutation and Combination
Logical Connectives Mixtures and Alligations
Blood Relation Trigonometry
Coordinate Geometry

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CAT Quantitative Aptitude weightage

There will be 34 questions from this section out of which 8-9 questions are Type in the Answer (TITA)along with the MCQ questions. There are few topics which are continuously asked every year and are important to be noted during the preparation. The important topics with the weightage are given below:

Topic Name Expected No. of Questions
Geometry & Mensuration 7-8
Algebra 6-7
Arithmetic questions 10-12
Number System 4-5
Others 2-3


CAT Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension Syllabus Weightage

The VARC section, has 34 questions and in this 7-8 questions are TITA based. The significant topic in the section is reading comprehension and below we can see the important topic with their weightage.

Topic Name Expected No. of Questions
Reading Comprehension Passage-Based Question 24
Para-Jumbles 2-4
Para-Summary 2-3
Sentence Completion & Correction 2-3
Odd Sentence 1-2
Others (Fill in the Blanks, Vocabulary Based) 1-2


CAT Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation Syllabus Weightage

The section has 32 questions with 8-9 TITA based questions. Both the section is divided into two with 16 questions each. In the Data Interpretation section, the candidate needs to understand the data set properly and there will be 3-4 set of questions. The DI topic includes tables, graphs, charts and Caselets. The reasoning section the most important topics are seating arrangement, blood relations, syllogisms, direction sense test, and other puzzles.

The CAT exam particularly does not specify the topics from which questions will be asked the candidate himself have to workout the board topics they should gain the fundamental knowledge about the topics. The exam can be cracked by solving the maximum number of questions within the limited amount of time.

CAT Exam Preparation Plan

  1. Learn and understand the CAT syllabus, the exam pattern and marking scheme thoroughly which makes the path clear.
  2. Choose the best and latest version of the book and other study material.
  3. Be a part of online study group where you can discuss, learn and clarify the doubts.
  4. Prepare a time-table on a daily basis and go accordingly which can be of great help.

CAT Exam Pattern

The exam pattern of CAT had gone through drastic change over the past few years starting from the duration of the exam to the number of questions. This year there is two significant change in the exam pattern. The exam will be conducted in three slots and the duration of the exam has been reduced ton120 minute from 180 minute. The candidate must initially get familiarised with the exam pattern, structure of questions and marking scheme. The CAT exam pattern as per the guidelines has got questions in two forms MCQs (Multiple Choice Questions) and Non-MCQs I.e., TITA based questions.

CAT Exam Pattern Highlights

Number of sections 3
Duration of the exam 40 minute per section (120 minute)
Number of questions 100
Total marks 300
Language used English
Number of answer choice 4


CAT Marking Scheme

The marking scheme of the exam should be understood as it will help to know which question must be answered and which one to skip.

  • The total marks can be obtained will be 300
  • Each question carries 3 marks.
  • There will be negative marking of -1 for each wrong answer.
  • If the candidate does not attempt the question, there will be no negative mark. This question will not be included for score calculation.
  • Along with the MCQs there is Type In The Answer (TITA) question and they must
  • be typed on the screen.
Type of Questions Correct Answer Incorrect Answer
MCQ +3 -1
Non-MCQ +3 0


Important Points Regarding CAT Exam Pattern

  • There will be an onscreen clock for the candidate to keep track of the time.
  • The use of onscreen calculator is allowed for computation.
  • The candidates are also provided with rough paper which must be returned after the exam.
  • Before the time the candidates are not allowed to start solving the question.
  • All the computer screens will switch on at the same time.
  • Candidate is not allowed sit anywhere else other than the designated area.

CAT Exam Overall and Sectional Time Limit

The CAT exam has three sections each of which also has time limit, and the candidate is not allowed select any section or switch from one section to another. They must follow the CAT question paper chronologically the order is:

  1. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
  2. Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning
  3. Quantitative Aptitude

The candidate must be vigilant as they must complete each section within the time-limit, once the time for one section is over it will be automatically moved to the next section. The candidate cannot move back to the section after the permitted time. No correction or changes can be made after the time for the section is over.

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