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CAT Exam Pattern

Get the detailed description of CAT Exam Pattern over the years to help you formulate a strategy for CAT


Common Admission Test (CAT) is held annually for admissions in elite business colleges like the IIMs. A seat in these institutions promiseshigh pay-packages and a rewarding career in the corporate world. CAT is one of the most competitive examinations and attracts graduates from all streams. CAT is known to be an unpredictable paper and the exam pattern is changed almost every year to surprise the students. Remaining true to their unpredictable nature, CAT examiners had introduced several structural changes in CAT-2015 test pattern. In this article, we look at the expected CAT 2016 exam pattern and understand the nuances of the exam pattern.

CAT 2016: Expected Exam Pattern

Although no official notification has been made about the same, the pattern for CAT-2016 is expected to be along the same lines as the CAT-2015 one.

CAT 2016 Exam Pattern
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)34
VA - 10
RC - 24
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)32
LR - 16
DI - 16
Quantitative Aptitude (QA)34
Total No. of Questions100

While CAT-2014 had only 2 sections: 'Quantitative Aptitude (QA) and Data Interpretation' and 'Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VRC) and Logical Reasoning (LR)', CAT- 2015 reverted back to the practice of three sections: 'Quantitative Aptitude (QA)', 'Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)' and 'Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VRC)'. We expect something similar this year.

The other essential details for the examination are as follows:

Time allotted180 Minutes
Total no. of questions100
Marking SchemeCorrect Answer: +3
Number of choices4
Negative MarkingWrong Answer: -1 Mark
No negative marking in Non MCQ questions

Major Changes in CAT-2015:

As we mentioned above, the major changes introduced in CAT-2015 were:

1. Sectional Timing: After a break of few years, there was sectional time limit in CAT. The first section was verbal ability, followed by DI and LR and then Quantitative Ability. The Sectional time limit was one hour for each section.

2. One-Day Exam: CAT 2015 was held on a single day i.e. 29th November 2015, in two sessions: morning (9am to 12 noon) and evening (2pm to 5pm), as against CAT-2014, which was held over a period of 20 days.

3. Introduction to 'TITA' Questions: In CAT-2015, there were questions called 'Type in the Answer' type questions. In these questions candidates were required to type in the answers, instead of choosing one from multiple-options. There were 10 such questions in the verbal section and around 15 each in the rest of the sections. These questions had no negative marking. These questions are expected to continue this year.

4. On screen Calculator: For the first time in the history of the exam, use of basic on-screen calculators was permitted in CAT-2015.

One-Day Exam:

CAT 2015 will now be held on a single day i.e. 29th November 2015, in two sessions, as against CAT-2014, which was held over a period of 20 days. Past experience suggests that, due to this, the difficulty level of this years' exam may be significantly higher than previous years'. Thus, 10-14 correct answers in each section will be enough to secure a good score. However, it entirely depends on the actual paper, which still remains as fickle as ever!

CAT 2016: Details of Exam Pattern in the official notification

As per CAT 2016 notification, the important details for the CAT-2016 Exam Pattern of CAT 2016 are:

  • CAT 2016 will be conducted in two sessions on one day.
  • The duration of the examination will be 180 minutes.
  • There will be three sections:
    • Section I: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
    • Section II: Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning
    • Section III: Quantitative Ability

  • Some questions in each section may not be of multiple choice type. Instead, direct answers are to be typed on the screen.
  • A basic on-screen calculator will be allowed for computation.
  • Candidates will be allotted exactly 60 minutes for answering questions in each section and they cannot switch from one section to another while answering questions in a section.
  • Tutorial to understand the CAT 2016 exam pattern will be available on the CAT website from 18th October 2016.

On the face of it, it might seem that the changes introduced in CAT-2015will continue in 2016. However, these changes, although important, should not be difficult to adjust to. The basics of preparation for CAT continue to remain the same. Knowledge of fundamental concepts, practice, time management, and accuracy are still critical for belling the CAT!

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