CAT Syllabus, exam pattern and important dates.

CAT Syllabus

CAT Syllabus, exam pattern and important dates.

CAT Syllabus, paper pattern, and important dates

What is CAT?

CAT is touted to be one of the most sought after exams to get into an IIM or any other prestigious B Schools. But to reach that milestone you have to carefully devise a strategy. Moreover, a plan of action to not only crack the exam but also to get a score of 90 percentile and above. The toppers in CAT do not like to give repeated attempts in the exam. They believe in writing CAT for the first time and crack it with a high score. So, their strategy is to kill it in the first shot with intensive preparation. And this by following the smart way of doing work instead of heartless multiple attempts which gains nothing. Let’s look at the CAT syllabus, exam pattern, and other aspects.

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CAT Exam Pattern

The Paper has three sections:

  1. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)
  2. Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)
  3. Quantitative Ability (QA)

Total Duration of Exam: 180 minutes

Total Number of questions: 100

There is a sectional time limit for each section.

Break-up of Time and Questions section-wise are:


  1. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension – 34 Questions – 60 minutes
  2. Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning – 32 Questions- 60 minutes
  3. Quantitative Ability – 34 Questions – 60 minutes

CAT 2020 Improve Logical Reasoning

Important Dates(Tentative)

  • CAT 2020 Notification Date: July 27, 2020
  • CAT 2020 Registration Start Date: August 4, 2020
  • Last Date to Apply for CAT 2020: September 18, 2020
  • CAT 2020 Admit card Issue: October 24, 2020
  • Last Date for CAT 2020 Admit Card Download: November 29, 2020
  • CAT 2020 Result Announcement: January 5, 2021

CAT Exam 2020 Syllabus

1. Mathematics or Quantitative Section

CAT 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 questions are 2-3
  • Linear Equations; Quadratic Equations
  • Complex Numbers
  • Logarithm; Progressions
  • Binomial Theorem
  • Surds and Indices
  • Inequalities
  • Permutation and Combination
  • Probability Functions
  • Set Theory
  • Mixtures and Alligations
  • Coordinate Geometry
  • Trigonometry


Key Facts on Quantitative Ability Syllabus in CAT & Type of questions 

  • Number of Questions: 34.
  • Sectional weightage in CAT Syllabus: 34%
  • Type of Questions: MCQs and Non-MCQs
  • The past trend in the CAT exam syllabus for Quant shows that there are 24 to 27 MCQs and 7 to 10 Non-MCQs in the Quant section of the CAT exam.
  • More emphasis on Arithmetic to promote academic diversity. Number of questions in Arithmetic: 10 to 12


2. English or Verbal Section is also known as VARC (Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension)

CAT Syllabus for Reading Comprehension

  • Current affairs making an impact on Social Life, International Affairs, Govt policies, and Schemes for example Triple Talaq, Clean India Mission, Migration of people from one country to other, Growing intolerance across the Globe,
  • Business & Economic RC Passages for example 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, thinkers, from various speeches of great personalities like passages from Charles Dickens, Aristotle, Martin Luther King, Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi, Churchill among others
  • Passages on Science & Culture including the journey to the 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 think much leading to put themselves in the author’s shoes before answering the questions following these passages since they are opinion based.
  • RC Passages on Historical events leading to social changes for example French Revolution, War of Roses, Social changes in Indian History and thoughts shared by  various activists which are very much relevant even today
  • RC Passages from Mythology. These passages try to correlate the Mythological events with the current social structure and answers to the questions on them have to be inferred.

Also read: CAT Strategy

Key Facts on RC Syllabus in CAT & Type of questions 

  • Number of Questions: 24
  • Sectional Weightage in CAT Syllabus: 34%
  • Type of passages in CAT Exam Syllabus on RC: 3 Long and 2 shorter
  • Division of questions: 6 questions based on each long passage and 3 questions based on each shorter passage. Sometimes a uniform number of 5 questions follow 4 RC passages and 1 RC Passage is followed by 4 questions.
  • Type of Questions: All of MCQ type with a penalty of 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 the context of the passage –True/false statements. Author’s view on various issues raised in the RC passage. Inference from the passage; the main idea of RC passage; Purpose of the RC passage.
  • Length of RC passages in CAT Syllabus: Longer RC passages are of around 900 words; shorter passages are of around 600 words in the CAT exam syllabus as reflected in the last 3 years.
  • Past trends 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.


CAT Syllabus for Verbal Ability

  • The 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, for example, correct use of the conditional sentence, time clauses, reported speech, passive writing
  • Vocabulary usage – picking the correct pair of words
  • Vocabulary usage in RC passages – finding out the correct synonyms and antonyms
  • Fill in the blanks with correct vocabulary words
  • Completion of the 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 Syllabus: 10%
  • Type of Questions: All of Non-MCQ type with No penalty for the wrong answer
  • Format of questions: The essence of paragraph questions is based on around 5-6 sentences. Questions on Jumbled paragraphs and out of context jumbled paragraphs have 4 -5 jumbled sentences that are to be placed in a coherent manner. The out of context sentence has to be picked out.

How to study for CAT

4. Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning Section

CAT 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 Syllabus: 16%
  • Past trend of topics in CAT Syllabus for DI: Table (Student Pass percentages over 5 years; Comprehension – Marks in Two sections of papers; 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 were 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, are asked. Data could be given in the form of tables, charts, or graphs. In this section, it is tested that how candidates can interpret the given data and answer questions based on it.

Past CAT papers

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 

Crack Data Interpretation

CAT entrance exam syllabus defines that questions in the LR section can be individual. Or can be in the set of 4 questions.

  • Weightage of LR Syllabus questions in CAT exam: 16%
  • Total LR questions in CAT syllabus for 2020 exam: 16
  • Type of Questions: MCQs & Non-MCQs
  • Past trend of topics in CAT 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.

I hope this article helps you with your preparations.

Keep going and Happy Learning!

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