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: 120 minutes

Total Number of questions: 76

There is a sectional time limit for each section.

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

  1. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension – 26 Questions – 40 minutes
  2. Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning – 24 Questions- 40 minutes
  3. Quantitative Ability – 26 Questions – 40 minutes

CAT 2020 Improve Logical Reasoning

Important Dates (Tentative)

Events Dates 2021
CAT 2021 Notification Date July 27, 2021
CAT 2021 Registration Start Date: August first week, 2021
Last Date to Apply for CAT 2021 Fourth week of September, 2021
Last date to edit CAT 2021 Application Fourth week of September, 2021
CAT 2021 Admit card Issue October third week, 2021
Last Date for CAT Admit Card Download November last week, 2021
CAT 2021 Answer-Key Release December first week, 2021
CAT 2021 Result Announcement January first week, 2022

CAT Exam 2021 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
Number System (3-4) questions Algebra (5-7 questions)
Geometry/Mensuration (6-8 questions) Pure Math (1-2 questions)
Venn diagrams 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: 26.
  • Sectional weightage in CAT Syllabus: 34%
  • Type of Questions: MCQs and Non-MCQs
  • The past trend in the CAT 2020 exam syllabus for Quant shows that there were 18 MCQs and 8 Non-MCQs in the Quant section of the CAT exam.
  • More emphasis on Arithmetic to promote academic diversity.


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: 26
  • Sectional Weightage in CAT Syllabus: 34%
  • Type of passages in CAT Exam Syllabus on RC: 4
  • Division of questions: 18 questions based on RC, number of VA questions: 8
  • 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

Critical Reasoning Para Jumbles (2-3 questions)
Para Summary (2-3 questions) Odd-One out (2-3 questions)



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

  • Number of Questions: 8
  • 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

3. Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning Section

CAT Syllabus for Data Interpretation (DI)

Data Tables Data charts
Bar diagrams & Charts (Simple, Stacked, Composite Bar charts) Pie charts
Graphs – Line X-Y Graphs Caselet based Data

Key Facts on Data Interpretation Syllabus in CAT & Type of questions 

  • Number of Questions: 14 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)

Puzzles Parallel / Linear / Circular Arrangement
Matrices Day-Month-Year
Ranking Based Syllogisms
Coding-Decoding Input-Output
Direction-Based Symbol-Based Comparison
Conditional Coding Blood Relation
Series Clocks & Calenders
Critical Reasoning Strong & Weak Argument
Course of Action Cause & Effect
Statement & Assumptions Statement & Conclusion
Cubes Rows
Set Theory, Venn Diagrams, Network Diagrams Quantitative 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: 10
  • 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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