CAT Exam Pattern

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

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Common Admission Test (CAT) is held annually for admissions in IIMs and other elite B- Schools in India. CAT is one of the most competitive examinations and attracts graduates from all streams to seek admissions in the management institutions. Every year lakhs of students strive hard to get admission in these top notch institutions and make a rewarding career in the corporate world with high pay- packages. 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 2017 exam pattern and understand the nuances of the exam pattern.

CAT 2017: Expected Exam Pattern

Although no official notification has been made about the same, the pattern for CAT-2017 is expected to be on the same lines as the CAT-2016.

CAT 2017 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 Questions 100

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)'. The same pattern continued in 2016 and we expect something similar this year also.

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 continued in 2016 and are expected to continue in 2017 also.

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 and is anticipated to continue in 2017.

CAT 2017: Details of Exam Pattern

As the official notification for CAT 2017 will be released in July, given below is the expected Exam Pattern for CAT 2017 based on CAT 2016 Official Exam Pattern:

CAT 2017 Exam Pattern
Exam Window Two Sessions on one Day
Duration 180 Minutes (Three Hours)
Total No. of Sections Three- Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) and Quantitative Ability (QA)
Total Marks 100
Marking Scheme Correct Answer: +3
Wrong Answer: - 1
No negative Marking for MCQs
No penalty for unanswered Questions
  • 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 2017 exam pattern will be available on the CAT website in the month of October.



On the face of it, it might seem that the changes introduced in CAT-2015 will continue in 2017 as well. 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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