CAT 2021 Exam Pattern

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. The same is to be followed in 2021.
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It is extremely crucial for CAT aspirants to go through the latest exam pattern before planning their preparation strategy. Below is a complete overview of the expected exam pattern of the CAT 2021:
CAT Exam 2021: Revised Exam Pattern
For 2021, IIM Ahmedabad will conduct CAT 2021 in a computer-based mode. It will be held in three slots as per CAT 2020 (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.
CAT 2021 Exam Pattern: Overview
Given below is the CAT 2021 Exam Pattern as per the revised changes in CAT 2020.
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 76
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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CAT 2021 Exam Pattern: Key Features & Latest Changes
  • CAT 2021 Exam will be scheduled in November 2021.
  • CAT 2021 will be a Computer-based Exam timed for 2 hours.
  • Three marks will be awarded for each right answer in MCQs and Non-MCQs and one mark will be deducted for every wrong MCQ. There is no negative marking for Non-MCQs.
  • The order of section is fixed, starting with VARC. Candidates cannot switch between sections.
  • The CAT 2020 exam was held in three slots and the timings are 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), for CAT 2021, students will be notified about the changes in exam window.
  • Previously the total number of questions in CAT were 100 and the total marks was 300. But in 2020, the number of questions was reduced to 76 and total marks to 228.
  • IIM will also release a tutorial for the aspirants to understand CAT 2021 computer-based test and question pattern. The tutorial will be available on their official website in October 2021.
  • CAT 2021 exam will be held in 158 cities across the country.
  • Remember that CAT 2021 is not an online test but a Computer-based exam. The candidate will not give the exam on an internet website but on computer terminal where the questions will be displayed and the candidate has to choose the answers by clicking on the right one. IIM’s elaborate that this new exam pattern will display a timer on the computer screen that keeps reminding 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.
    Note: The above-given pattern follows from CAT 2020. 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 2021 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 2020 exam pattern for your reference:
    CAT 2020 Exam Pattern
    Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) 26 questions
    MCQ - 18
    TITA - 8
    Marks - 78
    Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) 24 questions
    MCQ - 18
    TITA - 6
    Marks - 72
    Quantitative Aptitude (QA) 26
    MCQ - 18
    TITA - 8
    Marks - 78
    Hope the CAT 2021 exam pattern is clear and for more information, you can go through the official website. 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!
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