CAT Exam Pattern & Syllabus 2023
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The Common Admission Test (CAT), a gateway to India’s most prestigious business schools, remains a pivotal examination for aspirants seeking an illustrious career in management. Understanding its intricate pattern and extensive syllabus is crucial for those aiming to crack this highly competitive test.

CAT Exam Pattern

The CAT exam comprises three fundamental sections:

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

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Exam Structure:

  • Time Duration: The total duration of the CAT exam is 2 hours (120 minutes).
  • Section-wise Time Allocation: Each section—VARC, DILR, and QA—has a time limit of 40 minutes. However, for Persons with Disabilities (PwD), an additional 13 minutes 20 seconds per section is allotted, extending the time to 53 minutes 20 seconds.
  • Exam Timings: The CAT exam is conducted in multiple slots: 8:30 am – 10:30 am (Morning Session), 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm (Afternoon Session), and 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm (Evening Session).
  • Number of Questions: There are 66 questions across the sections.
  • Total Marks: The CAT exam carries a weightage of 198 marks.
  • Exam Mode: Conducted in Computer-Based Mode (CBT).
  • Marking Scheme: For every correct answer, candidates receive +3 marks. In multiple-choice questions (MCQs), a penalty of -1 is applied for each incorrect response. However, there are no negative marks for Non-MCQs.
CAT exam time duration2 Hours (120 Minutes)
Name of the Section1.) Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)
2.) Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)
3.) Quantitative Aptitude (QA)
Section-wise CAT exam duration40 Minutes for Each Section (VARC, DILR, QA).
53 Minutes for 20 Seconds for PwD candidates for each section.
CAT exam timingsSlot 1: 8:30 am – 10:30 am (Morning Session)
Slot 2: 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm (Afternoon Session)
Slot 3: 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm (Evening Session)
How many questions in CAT exam66 Questions
CAT exam total marks198 marks
Mode of the CAT 2023 examComputer-Based Mode (CBT)
CAT Marking Scheme40 Minutes for Each Section (VARC, DILR, QA).53 Minutes for 20 Seconds for PwD candidates for each section.

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CAT Syllabus Overview

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)Verbal Ability
English Usage or Grammar
Close Passage
Synonyms and Antonyms
Jumbled Paragraph
Reading Comprehension
Verbal Reasoning
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)Caselets
Blood Relations
Bar Graphs
Column Graphs
Binary Logic
Line Charts
Combination of two or more types linked to each other
Venn Diagrams
Pie Chart
Number and Letter Series
Seating Arrangement
Quantitative Aptitude (QA)Algebra
Higher Maths

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Cracking the CAT: Tips for Success

  • Understand the Exam Pattern: Familiarize yourself with the exam pattern, time allocation, and marking scheme.
  • Practice Regularly: Solve previous years’ question papers and mock tests to adapt to the exam format.
  • Focus on Weak Areas: Identify and work on weaker sections while honing your strengths.
  • Time Management: Efficiently manage time during the exam to attempt maximum questions accurately.
  • Improve Speed and Accuracy: Enhance your calculation speed and accuracy in problem-solving.
  • Seek Guidance: Consider coaching or guidance from experts for strategic preparation.

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Previous Year Exam Pattern with Level of Difficulty

YearNumber of QuestionDifficulty LevelCAT exam time durationConducting Body
20232 hoursIIM Lucknow
202266Moderate2 hoursIIM Bangalore
202166Moderate to High2 hoursIIM Ahmedabad
202076Moderate to High2 hoursIIM Indore
2019100Moderate to High3 hoursIIM Kozhikode
2018100Moderate to High3 hoursIIM Calcutta
2017100Moderate3 hoursIIM Lucknow
2016100Moderate to difficult3 hoursIIM Bangalore
2015100Moderate to difficult3 hoursIIM Ahmedabad
2014100Moderate to Easy2.50 hoursIIM Indore
201360Moderate to Easy2:20 hoursIIM Indore
201260Moderate to Easy2.20 hoursIIM Indore
201160Moderate2.20 hoursIIM Calcutta


In conclusion, comprehending the CAT exam pattern and syllabus is the initial step towards a successful journey in securing admission to top-tier management institutions. A strategic and holistic approach to preparation, combined with dedication and consistent efforts, paves the way for a commendable score in the CAT examination.

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By Nikhil

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