All about CAT: A to Z of the Common Admission Test (CAT)

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CAT - Common Admission Test
Managing an organization requires expertise coupled with in-depth knowledge of various management principles. The lure of earning a handsome salary along with other perks draws many individuals to prepare for MBA entrances. Common Admission Test (CAT) is one such MBA entrance that paves the way for acquiring higher education in Management. CAT is a computer-based management entrance held every year by one of the IIMs. The premier Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) use CAT scores to enroll students for the MBA/ PGDM programs. There are 20 IIMs offering undergraduate, postgraduate, doctoral, and executive management education programmes.
CAT is the national-level management entrance test conducted by the Indian Institute of Management for admission into 20 IIMs and 100+ B-schools across India. Based on CAT scores, IIMs provide admission to almost 12000 candidates in various management programs. Around 2 lakh aspirants appear for the CAT exam every year aspiring to get admission in top B-schools.Top B-schools other that IIMs that accept CAT scores are MDI (Gurgaon), IITs, SP Jain (Mumbai), IMT(Ghaziabad), FMS(Delhi), KJ Somaiya Institute of Management Studies (Mumbai), Great Lakes Institute of Management(Chennai), Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneshwar, to name a few.
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CAT Exam: Important Features of CAT 2021 Exam Pattern explained
  • CAT is a computer-based test of two hours duration.
  • The CAT exam is divided into three sections:-
    • Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)
    • Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)
    • Quantitative Aptitude (QA)
  • CAT 2021 exam is for 120 minutes.
  • There has been a slight change in the test pattern with the inclusion of TITA (type in the answer) questions. The number of TITA questions may vary.
  • The order of the section in the CAT exam is fixed and students get 40 minutes for each section. As there is sectional time-limit, therefore students cannot switch to other sections.
Note: Incase, there are other significant changes for instance, number of questions per section etc., IIMs will notify the candidates regarding significant changes in the CAT Exam. Students should visit the CAT official website to go through the mock tests/ tutorials and understand the new exam pattern. These mock tutorials will be uploaded in the month of October.
Generally, the CAT score is valid for one year except for the institutes offering deferred admission, taking into account the work experience of the candidate. The stated scores are a result of scaling and normalization based on the performance of candidates appearing in multiple sessions. Most of the institutes base their cut-offs based on CAT percentiles.
When is the CAT exam conducted?
CAT is conducted in November every year. The detailed notification is released around July/August on the official website ( You will get to know about the important dates, application fee, MBA/PGP programmes and other essential information from the notification.
In 2021, exam is likely to be conducted in November 2021
Who can appear for the CAT exam?
  • CAT aspirants should have a Bachelor’s/ equivalent degree with at least 50% marks (for general category) and 45% (for reserved category).
  • Students in their final year of graduation can also appear for the CAT exam.
  • There is no age bar to appear for CAT.
  • CAT 2021: CAT Exam Important Points
    • CAT 2021 exam will be held in November 2021.
    • Important dates for CAT 2021 Registration will be released in August 2021.
    • CAT application form has to be submitted online.
    • CAT exam is held at around 156 cities across the country.
    • Students can download admit cards from the official website by October 2021.
    • CAT exam result will be announced in the second week of January (2022) tentatively.
    • Most important, CAT aspirants should maintain a valid and unique email account and a mobile number for the selection process to be carried out smoothly.
    What’s the ROI of top MBA programmes?
    • In the year 2020, 153 firms participated in the placement process held at IIM- Ahmedabad.
    • For executive MBAs, the median salary was above Rs 30 Lakh per annum.
    • For PGP/MBA graduates, the mean salary was over Rs 26 Lakh per annum.
    • Top MNCs such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, McKinsey & Co., Blackstone Group, and Strategy recruited from IIM Ahmedabad.
    • At IIM Bangalore, there were 518 offers from top Multinational Companies and there was a 6.14 % increase in the total number of jobs offered compared to the previous year.
    • The mean salary that MBA graduates from IIM Lucknow received was Rs 24.25 Lakh per annum and the median salary was Rs 23 Lakh.
    • At IIM Kolkata, the average salary of MBA graduates was Rs 28 Lakh and the median salary was Rs 25.5 Lakh. Top 10% of MBA graduates at IIM Kolkata received an astounding Rs 54.5 Lakh per annum.
    The above data indicates that students of these premier IIMs will be benefitted in innumerable ways. Getting recruited by top multinational companies for varied managerial roles will enhance their learning and raise their career graphs.
    Which colleges/institutes accept CAT scores?
    In 2020, 115 B-schools accepted CAT scores, out of which 114 are in India and one is in Singapore. More than 100 B-schools in India and abroad are expected to register as CAT participating Institutes in the coming years. Apart from 20 IIMs, CAT participating Institutes include other public and private institutes. Some of the top B-schools accepting CAT scores are:
    • Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad
    • Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore
    • Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta
    • Indian Institute Of Management(IIM), Lucknow
    • S. P. Jain Institute of Management & Research (SPJIMR), Mumbai
    • Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon
    • Indian Institute Of Management (IIM), Kozhikode
    • Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Indore
    • International Management Institute (IMI), New Delhi
    • Faculty of management studies (FMS), New Delhi
    • Institute Of Management Technology (IMT), Ghaziabad
    • National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), Mumbai
    • Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Trichy
    • Rajiv Gandhi Indian Institute of Management (IIM),Shillong
    • Xavier Institute of Management (XIM), Bhubaneswar
    • Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Kashipur
    • Department of management studies (IIT Delhi), New Delhi
    • Sydenham Institute of management studies and research and entrepreneurship education (SIMSREE), Mumbai
    • Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of management studies (JBIMS), Mumbai
    • Shailesh J Mehta School of Management (IIT Bombay), Mumbai
    • Vinod Gupta school of management (VGSOM), IIT Kharagpur
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    After the declaration of CAT result, IIMs and other B-schools shortlist the candidates for the selection rounds – WAT (Written ability test/Essay writing), GD/CD (Group/case discussion) /Group Exercise and PI (Personal Interview). While IIMs and some other top B-schools declare their admission criteria and cutoff prior to the result, a majority of the B-schools announce their cutoffs only after the CAT result is declared. Many students face a lot of hardships before finally achieving their aim.
    The final merit list at the B-schools is based on candidates’ performance in the CAT exam, selection rounds, and profile.
    Last but not least: Energy and Persistence conquer all things.
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