CAT Exam Pattern: Syllabus, Marking Scheme, Weightage

CAT is conducted in a computer-based mode for elite B-schools like IIMs, MDI, FMS, etc

. These institutions promise high pay packages and a rewarding career in the corporate world. CAT is one of the toughest competitive exams and attracts candidates from different streams.

If you have decided to take the CAT exam, you must be fully aware of its pattern, structure and marking scheme.

Here, you will get complete information about the CAT exam pattern, marking criteria, and important topics.

CAT Exam Pattern: Overview

CAT Pattern is divided into three slots – VARC (Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension), DILR (Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning), and QA (Quantitative Ability). For IIM shortlisting, the candidate must score high in each section to clear the sectional score cut-offs.

Below is the tabular form of the tentative details of the CAT 2022 Exam Pattern, as per the changes made in 2021:

Exam WindowThree Sessions
Mode of ConductComputer-based
SectionsVerbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Ability (QA)
Test Duration120 Minutes
Total No. of Questions66
Duration of each section of CAT40 Minutes
Type of QuestionsMCQs & Non-MCQs
Expected Marking Scheme-1 for each wrong answer+3 for every correct answer

CAT Exam Pattern 2022: Latest Changes & Important Information

  • CAT 2022 Exam is scheduled for November 2022.
  • There is no negative marking for Non-MCQs.
  • The order of the sections is fixed, starting with VARC. Candidates cannot switch between sections.
  • The CAT 2021 exam was held in three slots, as follows: Slot 1 (8.30 am to 10.30 am), Slot 2 (12.30 pm to 2.30 pm), and Slot 3 (4.30 pm to 6.30 pm). For CAT 2022, students will be notified about the changes in the exam window.
  • Previously, the total number of questions in CAT was 100, and the total marks were 300. But in 2020, the number of questions reduced to 76 and the total marks to 228. In 2021, the number of questions was further reduced to 66.
  • IIM will also release a tutorial for the aspirants to understand CAT 2022 exam format and question pattern. The tutorial will be available on their official website in October 2022.
  • There is an onscreen calculator provided during the exam.
  • CAT 2022 exam will be held in 150+ cities across the country.

CAT Pattern: Section-wise Division

There is a sectional-time limit for each section of CAT. Applicants cannot change the question sequence because the exam follows a chronological order for three sections. Here is the complete overview of the CAT exam pattern that will help you in time management and strategy planning.

SectionsTotal No. of QuestionsMCQsTITAAllotted Time
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)2419540 Minutes
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)2015540 Minutes
Quantitative Aptitude (QA)2014840 Minutes
Total664818120 Minutes

CAT Syllabus

Each topic has a different weightage in CAT. Prioritize the sections and start your preparation accordingly. Keep track of the following topics asked in the CAT exam:

  Verbal AbilityPara jumbles, Summary Based Questions, Sentence exclusion questions.
Reading ComprehensionRC passages
Quantitative AbilityNumber System, Algebra, Geometry, Arithmetic, Mensuration.
Data Interpretation & Logical ReasoningSeating Arrangement, Reasoning Based DI, Grid-Based DI, Graphs. Tables, Data Caselets

CAT Exam- Time Duration

There is a time limit for each section in the CAT examination pattern. Once the time is over, the screen automatically advances to the next segment, and the candidate can’t move back to make any changes. Therefore you must keep track of time duration and practice accordingly.

The following are the three sessions and times for the exam:

  • Morning session (8:30 am – 10:30 pm)
  • Afternoon session (12:30 pm – 2:30 pm)
  • Evening session (4:30 pm – 6:30 pm)

CAT Exam Pattern: Marking Scheme

In the latest Pattern of the CAT Exam, the marking scheme is different for MCQ and TITA questions.

  • For each correct answer, three marks will be awarded.
  • For each wrong answer, one mark will be deducted.
  • For unanswered questions, no marks will be deducted. Also, for Non-MCQs, no marks will be deducted.
SectionsNo.of QuestionsMarksNegative Marks

CAT Exam Pattern: Topic-wise Weightage

  Verbal Ability8-10 questions
Reading ComprehensionOut of 24 questions in the VARC section, 16 questions were from RC in 2021.
Quantitative AbilityArithmetic and Algebra dominate the section with approx. 8 questions from each.
Data Interpretation & Logical ReasoningIn 2021, there were 2 sets with a total of 10 questions in DI and 2 sets from LR.

MCQ & Non-MCQ Questions

CAT Exam consists of both MCQ & Non-MCQ type of questions. Candidates must type the answer for non-MCQ questions as they come without answer options. Here is a ratio of MCQ & non-MCQ type of questions asked in the exam:

SectionNo.of QuestionNo.of Non-MCQ
Verbal Ability & Reading   Comprehension3410
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning328
Quantitative Ability347

Comprehensive View of Different Sections

Verbal Ability & Comprehensive Reading

This section aims to evaluate how well you understand the gradation of the English language. To do well in this section, you are required to enhance your reading skills, develop an above-average vocabulary base and clear all the basics of English Grammar. Some common question types are reading comprehension, sentence completion, para-jumbles, jumbled paragraphs, antonyms and synonyms, fill-in-the-blanks, and summary questions. Reading comprehension aims to establish your comprehension and reasoning abilities.

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning

It is the combined section of two separate areas: Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning. It probes questions based on various data forms, such as bar graphs, line graphs and pie charts. You must understand the data presented and answer the questions based on the same. Besides this, you need to think logically to analyze the situation and make the correct deductions. The topics included are blood relations, calendars, clocks, cubes, seating arrangement, syllogism, logical connectives, logical matching and sequencing.

Quantitative Ability

This section tests your knowledge and understanding of basic mathematical concepts. You should be proficient in calculations and develop your aptitude for quick thinking to solve problems based on trigonometry, mensuration, number system, and arithmetic.

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