CAT Exam Pattern 2021

The exam pattern for CAT has been changed several times in the past years by the conducting IIMs. Since 2015, the CAT pattern, with respect to the total marks, duration and total questions, has remained the same. It is extremely important for the CAT aspirants to know the CAT paper pattern as it helps to devise personal test-taking strategies. Here, the CAT exam pattern 2021 is given which is the same as the 2020 pattern and would help the CAT aspirants to get acquainted with the latest pattern and prepare accordingly.

Any changes with respect to the CAT 2021 exam pattern will be updated in case any official statement is released.

CAT 2021 Exam


The Common Admission Test is one of the most competitive tests held in India annually. The CAT can be undertaken by graduates from almost all streams. The exam attracts a huge competition from all the MBA aspirants who endeavour admissions in the IIMs or other prestigious B-schools in the country.

CAT 2021 exam pattern won’t see any major changes. Therefore, aspirants can refer to the 2020 pattern for reference.

CAT 2020 Exam Pattern: Overview

Total Questions in CAT Exam 100
Total Marks 300
Total Sections 3
Total Exam Duration 3 Hours
Mode of Paper Online Only
Question Types MCQs and Non MCQs (TITA)
Making Scheme +3 For Correct Answers

-1 For Incorrect Answers

0 For Unattempted Questions

Section Names 1. Quantitative Aptitude

2. Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension

3. Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation

This exam is also one of the toughest exams in the country since it has neither a pre-defined syllabus nor a proper exam pattern. Thus, the candidates often get confused as the CAT pattern changes frequently.

The examiners made some major changes in CAT 2015 exam pattern by introducing sectional timing and TITA (Type In The Answer) type questions. This exam pattern for CAT Exam was repeated in CAT 2016 and remained unchanged in CAT 2017 and 18 also. The CAT 2021 paper pattern is also expected to be the same as CAT 2020. An expected CAT 2021 exam pattern is given below:

CAT Expected Exam Pattern 2021: Detailed Sectional Pattern

CAT 2021 Sectional Pattern

Section Name Number of Questions Duration
Quantitative Aptitude (QA) 34 60
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)  VA: 10 60
RC: 24
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) DI: 16 60
LR: 16
Total 100 180 (3 hours)

CAT Quantitative Aptitude Pattern

The CAT quantitative aptitude section is a standalone section and comprises only numerical based questions from different maths topics. A total of 34 questions are included in this section every year. The detailed pattern for quantitative aptitude section is given below in detail.

The complete quantitative section comprises mainly of 5 topics which are:

  • Basic Arithmetic
  • Number System
  • Geometry
  • Algebra
  • Modern Maths

The questions distribution of these topics varies every year. A tentative marks distribution graph of quantitative topics is given below.

CAT QA Section Analysis for 2020
From the chart, it is clear that geometry is one of the most important CAT exam topics and 8 -10 question related to geometry are repeated in the exam every year. In this section, almost 8-9 TITA questions (Non-MCQs) are included where candidates are required to type their answers. Overall, the questions’ pattern of CAT quantitative aptitude section ranges from easy to moderately high and can be answered easily with proper practice of the syllabus topics.

CAT Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension Pattern

The CAT VARC section is mainly focussed to check the English language skills of the candidates and check how well they can interpret paragraphs and understand the core ideas. In this section also, 34 questions are asked in the CAT exam every year from the VA-RC section.

In CAT Verbal ability section, 10 questions are included every year. The main areas from where questions are asked are in the verbal section are:

  • Parajumbles
  • Sentence Correction and Completion
  • Summary based

Altogether, 10 questions are asked from the verbal ability section. Other 24 questions are from the reading comprehension passages. In CAT reading comprehension, there are various types of questions which include vocabulary-based, title based, etc.

A tentative questions’ pattern for CAT verbal ability and reading comprehension section is given below.

CAT VARC Section for 2020
In this section, a total of 7-8 TITA questions are included in which no options will be given and the candidates need to type the answers. The overall pattern of CAT verbal ability & reading comprehension questions is moderately difficult and time-consuming.

CAT Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation Pattern

The logical reasoning and data interpretation section test the proficiency of the candidates to interpret data and their ability to understand logical assumption. In this section a total of 32 questions are included.

In the CAT logical reasoning section, 16 questions are generally included every year. The questions vary from inequalities to symbol operations, direction sense test, etc. The questions in this section are easily solvable and thus, this section is highly scoring.

On the other hand, the data interpretation section is a bit difficult and time-consuming section. Several confusing data caselets are included in this section and candidates are required to understand the data sets thoroughly to be able to answer the full question sets. The CAT data interpretation section should be attempted with cautiously as a single mistake can lead the candidates to attempt all the questions from a particular set incorrectly.

A total of 8-9 TITA questions are included in this section. The questions’ pattern in the CAT LR-DI section are often confusing and thus, the candidates need to attempt this section properly. This section is very scoring and one should not hurry to read the data caselets and logical reasoning statements.

Also Check: Change in CAT Pattern over the past 5 years

Other important points for CAT 2021 exam pattern:

  • The exam will be conducted in two sessions on a single day: Morning (9am-12pm) and evening (2pm-5pm).
  • The exam will be a computer-based test.
  • The exam will be of 300 marks and the candidates cannot switch between the sections.
  • A non-scientific and onscreen calculator is provided and no other electronic devices are allowed inside the room.
  • An on-screen timer is also present on the computer screen which shows the remaining time for the respective sections.
  • There is a negative marking of 1 mark for each incorrect answer.

Being one of the toughest exams in the country, the CAT exam surely requires the candidates to be extremely prepared and well-versed with all the syllabus topics to ace the exam. So, it is very important to know the proper CAT exam syllabus and pattern to get prepared to face the competition.

The CAT exam is generally conducted in the month of November every year while the registration starts in August. This year, CAT 2021 is expected to be conducted in November / December 2021. The notification for CAT 2021 is expected to be released by the end of July and the registration is expected to start by the first week of August. Stay tuned with BYJU’S to get more info on CAT exam 2021 along with effective preparation tips, the latest notifications, and previous year question papers.

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