CAT Syllabus 2023

CAT syllabus covers all the basic topics of mathematics, English, and reasoning. As per the fundamentals of these three areas, questions are framed in a complex way, so as to check the decision-making capabilities, time management skills, and analytical abilities of the candidates. CAT is the most popular as well as highly competitive exam, attracting aspirants from all educational streams.
The first step towards your CAT 2023 preparation is to have complete information and knowledge of CAT Syllabus and the important topics.
As per a famous African proverb,  "Knowledge is like a garden: If it is not cultivated, it cannot be harvested."
CAT is the primary filter used by all the 20 IIMs and several hundred other reputed colleges like S.P. Jain, FMS, MDI, etc. for admission to their MBA programs. The exam is designed to assess the prospective admission seekers' suitability for MBA education.
Although IIMs do not specify any standard syllabus for CAT, we have developed a comprehensive list of topics based on previous year CAT papers. This article lists down all the essential areas of CAT syllabus along with the weightage of frequently asked questions.
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CAT Syllabus 2023: An Overview
CAT exam consists of three sections. It has both MCQ and non-MCQ types of questions with penalties for incorrectly answered MCQs. Before delving into the important topics of CAT 2023, you must be aware of its exam pattern:
CAT Exam Pattern 2023
No. of Questions
Time Limit
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)
40 Minutes
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)
40 Minutes
Quantitative Ability (QA)
40 Minutes
120 Minutes
Important Topics of CAT
Here is an overview of CAT Syllabus for your understanding:
CAT Syllabus - Sectional Division
Main Topics in CAT 2023
Quantitative Ability (QA)
Geometry, Number System, Modern Math, Arithmetic, Mensuration, Algebra
Data Interpretations & Logical Reasoning
Team Formation, Seating Arrangement, Clocks and Calendars, Venn Diagrams, Bar Graphs
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension
Para-jumbles, Para-Summary, Long & Short Passages
CAT Syllabus eBook
Here is the complete book enlisting the key topics of CAT along with preparation strategy for different sections:
Given below is the section-wise description of CAT Syllabus 2023, based on the pattern followed in the previous year exam.
CAT Syllabus 2023: Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)
CAT Verbal Ability is one such area that has seen significant changes in topics and structure over the past couple of years. Going by the topics that appeared in the CAT 2022 exam, you need to prepare for the following important topics:
  • Reading Comprehension: There were a total of 16 RC questions and 4 passages in the exam.
  • Paragraph Summary: This is another area which has gained prominence over the last couple of years.
  • Para-jumbles & Misfit Sentences: These two topics have become a regular in the exam over the last couple of years.
  • Para Completion: This is the latest addition to the important topics in CAT, wherein the best-fit sentences had to be chosen in the given paragraphs.
If you look at the above topics, you should be able to notice the absence of a significant number of topics. This is because  over 70% weightage of VARC is dedicated to RC questions only. It is to be noted that there were only 8 VA questions in CAT 2022, of which 3 (para jumbles) were non-MCQs. Nevertheless, the pattern keeps changing and you need to know about all the relevant topics that appeared in the last few years. Below are the other important areas of VARC:
  • Sentence Completion
  • Grammar & Usage (including questions based on common Grammar errors, Confusing Words, & Phrasal Verbs)
  • Verbal Reasoning: Fact-Inference-Judgement
  • Vocabulary-based questions (mainly Fill in the blanks).
Remember, Grammar-based questions test the candidate's capability to mark and correct grammatical errors. CAT generally tests knowledge of high school level grammar and includes areas like use of articles, prepositions, use of modifiers, subject-verb agreement, parallel construction, phrasal verbs, redundancy etc.
Topic-wise Distribution of VARC
As per the analysis of VARC section of previous year CAT papers, we have indicated the weightage of different topics:
No. of Questions in CAT
Other topics
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CAT Syllabus 2023: Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)
In DILR section, there are  nearly equal number of questions of Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning, with some of these based on the combination of both. This section is usually the most time-consuming one. Most of DILR questions feature in form of sets with 2-6 questions each. Listed below are the main topics of CAT DI and LR respectively:
  • Caselets, Tables, Bar Graphs, Column Graphs, Line Charts, Venn Diagrams, Pie Charts, Combination of two or more types linked to each other
  • Games & Tournaments, Number and Letter Series, Calendars; Cubes, Clocks, Venn Diagrams, Binary Logic, Seating Arrangement; Syllogism; Logical Sequence; Logical Connectives; Blood Relations.

Topic-wise Distribution of DILR
DILR sets feature in the various representations and follow the given weightage:
No. of Questions in CAT
Graphs &Bar diagram
Tables & Charts
Pie charts
CAT Syllabus 2023: Quantitative Ability (QA)
Quantitative ability is a wide-ranging and the trickiest section in CAT exam.  In the last few years, there has been an increased focus on Arithmetic-based questions in QA.  CAT 2022 featured the majority of questions from arithmetic. Another topic of high weightage is Algebra. There were a few questions from geometry. So, make sure to go through the following topics to ace CAT QA 2023:
  • Number Systems; LCM and HCF; Profit, Loss and Discount; Percentages; Speed, Time and Distance; Time and Work; Simple and Compound Interest ; Ratio and Proportion; Averages
  • Quadratic Equations; Linear Equations; Complex Numbers; Logarithm; Binomial Theorem; Sequences and Series; Surds and Indices; Inequalities
  • Probability; Permutation and Combination; Set Theory; Functions;Mixtures and Alligations
  • Geometry; Trigonometry; Coordinate Geometry; and Mensuration.
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Topic-wise Distribution of QA
Given table shows the significance of different topics from varied areas of Quant:
Main Topic
No. of Questions in CAT
Percentages, TSD (Time, Speed, and Distance), Averages, Time and Work, Ratio and Proportion, Profit and Loss, Simple and Compound Interest, Mixtures and Alligations.
Number System
Factorization, Unit Digit, Divisibility, Binomial Theorem, Surds and Indices
Linear Equations, Quadratic Equations, Inequalities, Functions, Logarithm, Complex Numbers
Geometry & Mensuration
Lines and Angles, Triangles, Polygons, Circles, Solids (3D Geometry), Coordinate Geometry, Trigonometry
Modern Math
Set Theory, Permutation, and Combination, Probability, etc.
In order to boost your score, keep yourself updated with CAT Syllabus 2023 and the vital areas from which most questions will be asked. Once you have built your conceptual clarity in various topics, make sure to invest sufficient time in practising them. Lastly, do visit the official CAT website for mock tutorials released in October 2023.
FAQs regarding CAT Syllabus
  1. Can I cover CAT syllabus in 2-3 months?
  2. Yes, you can complete CAT syllabus in about 2-3 months, if you prepare in a planned, focused, and efficient way.
  3. Does the syllabus for CAT change every year?
  4. Since there is no official syllabus prescribed for CAT, there is no such change in the topics. However, the weightage of different areas has witnessed modifications after every few years.
  5. Is the CAT syllabus same as that of other MBA entrance tests?
  6. Yes, the syllabus for CAT is similar to that of other management entrance tests like XAT, MAT, etc.
  7. Which section of CAT is the toughest?
  8. CAT is generally difficult in nature. However, in terms of time, VARC mostly takes more time-consuming than other sections. This is because of the tricky and long Reading Comprehension passages.
  9. Which section of CAT holds highest weightage?
  10. There is very less difference in the weightage allotted to different sections of CAT. Of all three sections, VARC carries the highest marks.
  11. By which month should I complete CAT syllabus and start practising mock tests?
  12. Although there is no fixed timeline for CAT preparation schedule, most aspirants aim to complete the syllabus by September. In the rest two months, you can devote time to mock tests.
  13. Do I need to be a graduate in English to ace CAT?
  14. No, you do not need to have knowledge of college-level for the verbal section. But you must have good vocab to nail the section.
  15. Do I need to be a graduate in Mathematics to crack CAT?
  16. No, the syllabus for CAT is quite basic and doesn't require graduation-level knowledge.
  17. Can I prepare for CAT just by taking mock tests?
  18. No, this approach proves ineffective. You must gain a strong understanding of concepts before taking mocks.
  19. Is there negative marking in CAT?
  20. Yes, CAT carries a negative marking for MCQs, but there is no penalty for wrong answers in the Non-MCQ part.
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