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CAT Exam Pattern
June 11 2024

CAT Convenor

  • Rotating Convenorship: The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) take turns conducting the CAT exam on a rotational basis.
  • CAT 2024 Host: IIM Calcutta is expected to conduct CAT 2024.
  • New Convenor: Therefore, a different professor from IIM Calcutta will likely be appointed as the CAT 2024 Convenor.

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CAT Conducting Body Since 2007


Conducting IIM

IIM Calcutta 
IIM Lucknow
IIM Bangalore
IIM Ahmedabad
2020 IIM Indore
2019 IIM Kozhikode
2018 IIM Calcutta
2017 IIM Lucknow
2016 IIM Bangalore
2015 IIM Ahmedabad
2014 IIM Indore
2013 IIM Indore
2012 IIM Kozhikode
2011 IIM Calcutta
2010 IIM Lucknow
IIM Ahmedabad
Not Known
IIM Bangalore

CAT Exam Changes since Computerization

The exam design in the course of recent years since it was automated in 2009 has gone for detectable changes. Feline paper design before 2009 was paper-pen based. Feline exam design was changed from paper-based exam to CAT online PC based test in 2009. Indeed, even after that CAT paper design kept changing from 3 areas to 2, and after that CAT design was changed to 3 segments in 2015. From that point, forward CAT is following a comparable example. Feline 2020 example likewise continues as before as that of CAT exam 2019 example with 3 segments and 3 hours time in spite of the fact that the quantity of MCQs and Non-MCQs may change.

CAT Paper Pattern over the Years

The CAT (Common Admission Test) paper pattern has evolved significantly over the years, particularly after its transition to a computer-based format in 2009. Below is a summary of the changes in the CAT paper pattern over the years:

Pre-2009: Paper-Based Test

  • Format: Multiple-choice questions (MCQs).
  • Sections: Generally included Quantitative Ability (QA), Data Interpretation (DI), Logical Reasoning (LR), and Verbal Ability (VA).
  • Duration: Typically 2 hours.
  • Number of Questions: Varied, usually around 150 to 200 questions.

2009-2014: Early Computer-Based Testing (CBT)

  • Format: MCQs.
  • Sections: Initially retained the same sections, but the exact number of sections and questions varied.
  • Duration: 2 hours and 30 minutes.
  • Number of Questions: Around 60 to 70 per section; the total number of questions varied from 60 to 100 in some years.
  • Testing Window: Spread over several days with multiple sessions.

2015: Major Overhaul

  • Format: Introduction of both MCQs and non-MCQs.
  • Sections: Fixed at three sections - Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Ability (QA).
  • Duration: 3 hours (180 minutes).
  • Number of Questions: Total 100 questions.
    • VARC: 34 questions.
    • DILR: 32 questions.
    • QA: 34 questions.
  • Sectional Time Limit: 60 minutes per section with no switching between sections.

2019: Continuity with Minor Adjustments

  • Format: MCQs and non-MCQs.
  • Sections: Same three sections (VARC, DILR, QA).
  • Duration: 3 hours.
  • Number of Questions: 100 questions.
    • VARC: 34 questions.
    • DILR: 32 questions.
    • QA: 34 questions.
  • Marking Scheme: +3 for correct answers, -1 for incorrect answers in MCQs, no negative marking for non-MCQs.

2020: COVID-19 Impact

  • Format: MCQs and non-MCQs.
  • Sections: Same three sections (VARC, DILR, QA).
  • Duration: Reduced to 2 hours (120 minutes) due to the pandemic.
  • Number of Questions: Reduced to 76 questions.
    • VARC: 26 questions.
    • DILR: 24 questions.
    • QA: 26 questions.
  • Sectional Time Limit: 40 minutes per section.

2021-2022: Adjustments Post-Pandemic

  • Format: MCQs and non-MCQs.
  • Sections: Same three sections.
  • Duration: Maintained at 2 hours.
  • Number of Questions: Around 66 questions (exact number varied slightly).
    • VARC: 24 questions.
    • DILR: 20 questions.
    • QA: 22 questions.
  • Sectional Time Limit: 40 minutes per section.

2023 Onwards: Return to Normalcy

  • Format: MCQs and non-MCQs.
  • Sections: VARC, DILR, QA.
  • Duration: Restored to 3 hours.
  • Number of Questions: Expected to be around 66-100 questions, following pre-2020 trends.
    • Distribution among sections varies slightly each year.
  • Sectional Time Limit: 60 minutes per section.

What will be the CAT Exam Pattern?

There are 66 questions to be solved in 120 minutes, divided into three sections: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Quantitative Ability (QA), and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR). Each section gets 40 minutes, and a targeted approach is key. Consistency is crucial - aim for at least two hours of daily study, dedicating 40 minutes to each section. CAT total marks 198.  Remember, scoring just 10 questions correctly in each section can propel you towards a coveted 99+%lie.


Number of Questions

Time Allotted


24 Questions

40 mins


20 Questions

40 mins


22 Questions

40 mins


 Disclaimer: The above points are only estimates from CATKing's Experienced Faculties. The original paper pattern might vary depending on the decision taken by the Conducting Body.

CAT mocks

CAT Paper Pattern

  • The total number of questions was 66 and these are in both MCQ and non-MCQ format
  • Time allotted was 120 minutes (2 hours) to answer these questions
  • There is a time limit of 40 minutes for each section
  • The exam is conducted in online mode Computer Based Test at various test centres

Sectional Composition for CAT

Section name
No. of questions
Total MCQs (With negative marking)
Total Non-MCQs (Without negative marking)
Maximum marks
24 16
6 60
22 14 8 66
66 44 22 198


1. VARC: Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension

2. DILR: Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning

3. Quant: Quantitative Ability

CAT exam will be directed on the third or fourth week of November of every a solitary day isolated in morning and evening sessions. One of the best six IIMs will be the Convener for CAT and has reported that CAT exam example will stay unaltered. Reacting to this inquiry IIMs, in spite of the fact that acknowledge that CAT paper design is PC based however whether CAT is an online test, they say 'No.' Regarding the CAT exam design, IIMs say "Feline isn't an online exam. It is an advanced or Computer Based Test (CBT); not an Internet-Based Test (IBT); that is, an applicant won't take the exam on a web website. Rather than perusing the inquiries in a paper booklet and obscuring the ovals on the appropriate response sheet, a hopeful will read the inquiries on a work station and pick an answer by tapping on the right choice."

So the CAT exam design, regardless of being a PC based exam, won't be an online exam. Sharing the key contrast and USPs of CAT exam design, IIMs additionally expand "In the PC based arrangement, the hopeful peruses an inquiry on a work station and taps on the right answer. Moreover, the clock on the PC screen discloses to you the rest of an opportunity to finish the present segment."


CAT exam: Sections: sub-sections, Expected difficulty level

CAT exam pattern was totally revamped in CAT 2015 by IIM Ahmedabad and since then the CAT exam pattern has followed the same CAT pattern for all the 3 sections except the recent change in CAT. The key features of CAT sectional exam pattern are:

1. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension: 

Total Questions: 24 LOD: Moderate to Very difficult Section Highlights: No Grammar or vocabulary-based questions in CAT Verbal Ability questions confined to 3 topics – Jumbled paragraph; Para summary; picking the odd sentence out of the jumbled sentences

2. Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning:

Total Questions: 20 LoD: Moderate to difficult Section Highlights: Questions appeared in sets of 6 & 4 Time crunch is faced by test takers as questions are more time-consuming 

3. Quantitative Ability:

Total Questions: 22 LoD: Moderate to difficult Section Highlights: More questions are on Arithmetic – Percentage, Profit & Loss, Time & Speed, Work/days, Compound & Simple interest

CAT Exam: Key Facts:

The entrance exam is a Computer-based Test (CBT) of 2 hours in length. The CAT exam is separated into 3 primary areas of 40 minutes each The 3 segments in the CAT exam example are – Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC); Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR); Quantitative Aptitude (QA) There will likewise be sub-segments inside the 3 segments in updated CAT exam example. For instance, the patched-up CAT exam design for VARC comprises of Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension sub-segments; DILR contains inquiries on Data Interpretation and Logical thinking.

  • Applicants are not permitted to move between one segment to others amid the 40 minutes relegated to the specific area.
  • CAT Test takers can't leave their seats amid the exam.
  • MCQs in the CAT exam example will require you to choose 1 correct answer out of 4
  • Non-MCQs in the CAT exam example will expect you to type in the right answer on the PC screen.
  • Each right answer in the CAT exam example will be granted 3 marks whether it is MCQ or Non-MCQ
  • Each wrong response for MCQ in CAT exam will be forced punishment of 1/3 negative check (- 1 stamp)
  • There will be no punishment for negative checking on wrong responses to Non-MCQs in the CAT exam design
  • CAT exam design stays on the lines of the CAT official Mock test discharged by IIMs a month prior to the CAT exam.

CAT exam has changed since the Computerization

Exam Mode:

  • From Paper to Online: The biggest shift was the move from a pen-and-paper exam to a CBT. This eliminated logistical challenges and allowed for a more efficient exam administration process.

Exam Pattern:

  • Sectional Timing (Recent Change): While the overall exam duration has remained at 180 minutes for a long time, there have been changes in sectional timing. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a sectional time limit of 40 minutes per section was introduced. This change might be permanent, so it's important to stay updated on the official CAT website for confirmation.
  • Number of Questions (Recent Change): The number of questions has also witnessed some fluctuations. Initially, there were 100 questions, but it went down to 76 in 2020 and has remained that way since (as of 2024).

I hope this article helps you with your preparations! All the best and Happy Learning!

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Rahul Singh

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