CAT Exam Pattern 2023

CAT exam pattern is revised from time to time, depending upon the educational scenarios and admission requirements of the B-schools. No doubt, CAT is a tough nut to crack, and the competition keeps rising every year, with more and more people opting for it. Irrespective of the changes in CAT exam pattern, its difficulty level has remained nearly the same all through the years. Further, some standard topics have always made an appearance in the exam and maintained a good weightage too.
Hence, it is essential that the aspirants put special focus on certain topics and brace themselves as per the structure and format of the exam. Although the basic parts of CAT are similar to other MBA entrance tests, it is far more complicated in terms of question types and level. While most aptitude tests are aimed at checking the speed-solving skills of the test-takers, CAT is more inclined to probe their complexity-tackling skills and wit. In other words, hard work won’t be of much help if you can’t work smart in CAT exam. Every year, one of the old IIMs facilitate CAT exam in the month of November, and its answer key is released in December. CAT result is declared in January and accordingly, the candidates are shortlisted for subsequent admissions rounds like GD, WAT, and interview.
So, to start with, you must lay a foundation for your preparation plan after getting a good understanding of CAT exam pattern. If you have decided to take the CAT exam, you must be fully aware of its pattern, structure and marking scheme. This article is dedicated to giving you complete details about the CAT exam pattern 2023.
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CAT 2023
CAT is held annually for admissions in IIMs and other elite B-Schools in India. It attracts graduates from all streams seeking admission to the best management institutions. Every year, lacs of students strive hard to get admission to top-notch institutions and make a rewarding career in the corporate world with high-pay packages.
One of the most popular MBA entrance tests, CAT is known for its unpredictable nature and undergoes modifications in its exam pattern almost every year. In 2020, CAT exam witnessed certain pattern changes and was conducted in three sessions to accommodate the social distancing norms enforced due to COVID. A few more changes were introduced in 2021 as well.
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CAT Exam Pattern 2023: Overview
For 2023, one of the IIMs will conduct CAT in a computer-based mode. It will be held in three slots as last year (the exact changes is notified on the official website). For IIM shortlisting, the candidate must score high in each of the sections to clear the sectional score cut-offs.
The given table shows the tentative details of CAT 2023 Exam Pattern:
Particulars Details
Exam Window Three Sessions
Sections Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Ability (QA)
Test Duration 120 Minutes
Mode of Conduct Computer-based
Total No. of Questions 66
Type of Questions MCQs & Non-MCQs
Duration of each section of CAT 40 Minutes
Expected Marking Scheme -1 for each wrong answer
+3 for every correct answer
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Did you know: In 2009, IIM Ahmedabad conducted the first computer-based CAT, but several technical glitches were faced during the test, and so, a re-test was done in January 2010.
CAT Exam Pattern 2023: Key Features & Latest Changes
  • CAT 2023 Exam is scheduled for the last week of November 2023.
  • There is no negative marking for Non-MCQs.
  • The order of the sections is fixed, starting with VARC. Candidates cannot switch between sections.
  • CAT 2023 exam will be held in three slots and the timings will likely be Slot 1 (8.30 am to 10.30 am), Slot 2 (12.30 pm to 2.30 pm) and Slot 3 (4.30 pm to 6.30 pm).
  • Previously the total number of questions in CAT was 100 and the total marks were 300. But in 2020, the number of questions was reduced to 76 and the total marks to 228. In 2021, the number of questions was further reduced to 66.
  • There is an onscreen calculator provided during the exam.
  • IIM will also release a tutorial for the aspirants to understand CAT 2023 computer-based test and question pattern. The tutorial will be available on their official website in October 2023.
  • CAT 2023 exam will be held in almost 150 cities across the country.
  • NOTE: Remember that CAT 2023 is not an online test but a Computer-based exam. The candidate will not give the exam on an internet website but on a computer terminal where the questions will be displayed and the candidate has to choose the answers by clicking on the right one. IIMs elaborate that this new exam pattern will display a timer on the computer screen that keeps reminds about the remaining time to complete different sections.
    In addition, you can practice CAT Mock Tests, CAT Sample Papers, and CAT Previous Year Question Papers curated by our experts at Hitbullseye.
    The above-given pattern follows from CAT 2021. Students are advised to visit the official CAT website ( to check the latest exam pattern and go through the mock tutorials. The official exam pattern for CAT 2023 will be released soon. These mock tutorials will be uploaded in the month of October.
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    CAT Exam Pattern of Previous Years
    Below is a detailed breakup of CAT exam pattern 2022 for your reference:
    CAT Exam Pattern 2022
    Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) 24 questions
    MCQ - 21
    TITA - 3
    Marks - 72
    Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) 20 questions
    MCQ - 14
    TITA - 6
    Marks - 60
    Quantitative Aptitude (QA) 22
    MCQ - 14
    TITA - 8
    Marks - 66
    Now that you are fully aware of CAT exam pattern 2023, you can move on to preparing a strategy to ace each section. Although the latest changes are important, they are not really difficult to adapt to. The basics of preparation for CAT continue to remain the same. Knowledge of fundamental concepts, practice, time management, and accuracy always prove instrumental for belling the CAT!
    FAQs about CAT Exam Pattern
    1. Is CAT exam easy or tough?
    The difficulty level of CAT is high and the exam requires proper preparation for a high score. CAT exam is a blend of moderately and highly difficult questions.
    2. How many papers are there in CAT exam?
    CAT paper is conducted in a single day, with different slots and timings. It consists of three sections, with individual time limits for each.
    3. What is the pass score for CAT?
    There is no qualifying score for CAT. However, different B-schools set different cut-offs for admissions. The top B-schools generally have a CAT cut-off of 90 percentile or above.
    4. What score is 99 percentile in CAT?
    As per the latest CAT pattern, a total marks of 104+ is a must for 99 percentile and above.
    5. Is calculator allowed in CAT?
    The candidates are not allowed to take a calculator at the test center. However, you can use the on-screen calculator, provided in the test screen.
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