CAT Entrance Exam: Dates, Eligibility, Syllabus, and Pattern

  • By Sneha Dasgupta
  • 9 June 2021
Get information about the CAT entrance exam

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CAT exam, also known as the Common Admission Test is a computer-based common aptitude examination for a 2-year MBA program from 20 IIM colleges and other reputable B-schools in India. The CAT Exam is conducted every year in a rotational pattern. In 2020, it will be conducted by IIM Indore, and this year, it shall be conducted by IIM Ahmedabad.

Registration for CAT entrance exam has started from August 4, 2021, and will continue till September 15, 2021. The test is due on November 27, 2021. To learn more about the CAT exam, let us guide you through the following sections!

What is CAT Exam?

"What is the use of CAT exam?" you may wonder. The first milestone that an MBA aspirant looks forward to is clearing the CAT exam. The CAT exam is an extremely competitive exam, where only a handful of students get admission into the institute of their dreams!

The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) conducts the CAT exam as a selection test that serves as an entrance to business administration programs. Every year, 2 lakh candidates appear for this examination, out of which only 5000+ earn their place in one of the prestigious IIMs or top B-schools in India.

Before you appear for the CAT exam, you need to keep some important details in mind. These details are described at length below.

CAT 2021 exam application process

The application process for CAT exam aspirants is a fully automated, online process and the official website for CAT registrations are

Aspirants must fill in the relevant and appropriate details properly for the CAT 2021 exam registration. With it, an application fee of Rs 2,000 (Rs 1,000 for SC/ST/PwD), must also be deposited.

While applying, make sure you have the documents specified in this article close - by for uploading. Make sure the following is followed to avoid rejection of the application.

  • The photograph ought not to be over a half year old. The photograph ought to be inside the components of 30mm X 45mm and in .jpg or .jpeg design. The photograph ought not to be under 150 px/inch in goal.
  • Filtered Signature: The mark should be inside the elements of 30mm X 35mm and in .jpg or .jpeg. It ought to be clear and on a white foundation.
  • NC-OBC/SC/ST Certificate: If you have a place with NC-OBC, SC or ST class, you should download the position testament from the CAT Website, enter the necessary data, self-confirm it and transfer its examined duplicate as a PDF archive.
  • PwD Certificate: If you have a place with the PwD class, you are needed to download the PwD authentication from the CAT site, fill it, self-validate it and transfer its filtered duplicate as a PDF record.

CAT registration is a three-step process that includes online registration, filling up the CAT entrance exam application form and payment of fees.

Step 1: To apply candidates must register on the official website by following steps:

  • Open the official CAT exam website in a new window or click:
  • Click on 'New Candidate RegistrationBehavioural
  • Enter name, DOB, email address, mobile number and nationality
  • Click on 'Generate OTP'
  • With successful registration, OTP is generated and sent to the registered mobile.
  • Verify the CAT registration process and status by entering the OTP.

Step 2: Filling up CAT Application FormAfter verification, a user ID and password will be sent on the mentioned email ID and mobile number. Log in with these credentials for further process

Step 3: Payment and Application Fee depositing

    • After filling in lengthy and true details of the first sections, click on 'save and continue'.
    • The fee payment window will appear.
    • CAT exam Application Fee is as follows
      • General and NC-OBC:- Rs. 2,000
      • SC, ST and PwD:- Rs. 1,000

CAT Exam Info

To begin with, you would be required to complete your registration procedure. The registration is a three-step easy process that includes:

  • Registering online
  • Filling up the CAT exam form
  • Paying the CAT exam fees

Following this, you need to pay the CAT exam fee which is INR 2,000 for the general category, and INR 1,000 for the reserved category.

Some particulars of the CAT exam are as follows:

CAT Exam Mode Online
Exam Date (2021) November (tentative)
Official Website
Duration of Exam 2 Hours
Sections in the Exam a) Quantitative Ability
b) Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
c) Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning
Medium of CAT Exam English
Help-desk Contact

CAT Exam Syllabus

As mentioned above the CAT exam paper is divided into 3 sections:

  • Quantitative Ability
  • Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
  • Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

A common factor linking these sections, in terms of the syllabus for the CAT exam, is that they require a clear understanding of topics included within a school curriculum till Class 12. These topics include lessons from English and Maths along with logical reasoning.

While there is no particular CAT exam syllabus, here are some pointers for you to prepare yourself well for the CAT exam:

  • For the Quantitative Ability section, the syllabus primarily includes topics from standard 8-10 algebra, number system, etc.
  • The Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension includes comprehension passages, questions on jumbled sentences, and sentence completion, to test grammar.
  • The Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning section is quite common and draws questions from direction sense, seating arrangement, graphs, case studies, etc.

Preparation is the avenue to success in all walks of life. So, all you have to do is prepare with your heart and mind till you reap the results you look forward to!

CAT Exam Dates

Here are some important details you need to remember with regards to the CAT exam date:

Online Registration (Start Date) 4 August 2021
Online Registration (Close Date) 15 September 2021
Admit Card 27 October 2021
Exam Date 28 November 2021
Result Declaration January 2022 (Second week)

CAT Exam Eligibility

To appear for the CAT exam, you have to fulfill the following eligibility criteria:

  • Bachelor's degree: You should hold a Bachelor's degree from a recognized board with a minimum of 50% marks. For students belonging to a reserved category, the minimum is 45% marks. This is among the most important CAT exam eligibility criteria.
  • The degree must be provided by any of the Universities included by an act of the central or a state legislature in India, or any other educational institutions established by an act of Parliament or are declared to be deemed as a University under Section 3 of the UGC Act, 1956, or hold an equivalent qualification recognized by the MHRD, India.
  • Eligibility for the CAT exam also includes those candidates who are in the final year of their Bachelor's degree, appearing for their final exams or awaiting the results for the same.

If a candidate can meet these CAT exam requirements, they qualify to appear for the exam.

CAT Exam Pattern

The CAT Syllabus and exam paper pattern have been subject to change multiple times. On account of the covid-19 crisis, in 2020 the CAT exam time duration was cut down to 120 mins, from its usual 180 mins, and there were 76 questions instead of 100.

The CAT entrance exam question paper is divided into three main segments: Quantitative Ability, Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension, and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning.

For easier understanding of the exam pattern, read below:

Number of sections 3
Number of questions 100
Total marks 300
CAT exam time duration 180 mins
Question type MCQ & Non-MCQs
Marking pattern a) Every correct response- awarded 3 marks
b) Negative marking of 1/3 for every wrong MCQ response
c) No negative marking for incorrect non-MCQ answer

Documents required for CAT entrance exam

Before starting the CAT exam Registration 2021 process, remember to keep handy these 10 key documents required to complete the registration process:

  1. Documents related to your Educational history from class 10 onwards
  2. Mark sheets – Class-10
  3. Mark Sheet – Class 12th
  4. Mark sheet – Bachelor’s Degree/Diploma
  5. Final Year Certificate from the HoD/Principal (If in the final year of bachelor’s degree) also previous year mark sheet
  6. Work experience Document, if any
  7. Applicable Certificates to upload (Category/Affidavits)
  8. Scanned images of your passport size photo and signature. See detail below.
  9. Keep ready the list of the IIM programs one wishes to apply to before filling in the application form.
  10. Keep ready the Registration fee payment instruments like Debit/Credit cards, Net banking. 

CAT Exam Preparation

The CAT exam is one of the most competitive entrance tests. You could miss out on clearing it by the slightest margin.

To ensure that you have a robust preparation, you need a minimum of six months to prepare. So, if you are appearing for it this year, your preparation for the CAT 2021 exam should have ideally started around May. However, even if it hasn't, here are some important CAT exam preparation tips that are sure to help you:

  • Over 50% of your preparation for the CAT exam should entail solving CAT mock papers and previous years' question papers. You need to confront your weak areas and work on them.
  • Refer to important texts for the three different sections in the paper.
  • Based on your strengths and weaknesses, make a list of topics and address the weak areas.
  • Make good use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Telegram, and YouTube by joining online study groups.
  • Devote an equal amount of time to the three different sections of the paper. Cover a topic from each section every day.

CAT Exam cutoff

The CAT exam cut off for IIM is typically up to 99 to 100 percentile for general category candidates. For the reserved category students (SC/ ST/ PwD), the CAT cutoff marks are slightly lower at 97 to 98 percentile.

 CAT Test centers

CAT exam will be held in 158 centers across India - in all states. You can find out the test centre nearest to you by visiting the official website of IIM-CAT. We have given the process of checking the nearest CAT exam centre below.

  1. Visit the official website
  2. On the top right corner click on ‘Exam Cities’
  3. From a top-down menu, you need to select your state
  4. You will be shown a list of centers in your state

CAT Exam Result

CAT entrance exam results will be announced on November 27 2021 on the official website of IIM-CAT. Candidates can log in using their User ID and Password. The result will only be available online, and you can download and save a digital copy or print-out. During admission into colleges, a copy of the result is usually required.

CAT Exam Selection Process

There are 20 Indian Institute of Management colleges and are considered the most prestigious set of institutions across India. The various IIMs are -Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bangalore, Bodh Gaya, Calcutta, Indore, Kashipur, Kozhikode, Lucknow, Nagpur, Raipur, Ranchi, Rohtak, Sambalpur, Shillong, Sirmaur, Tiruchirappalli, Udaipur, Jammu and Visakhapatnam.

The overall selection procedure for CAT entrance exam 2021 is more or less the same across all IIM’s, however, the weightage of each component varies. The admission criteria for IIMs is an elaborate process.

Note: Each B-school follows its individual admission and student screening process. Make sure to check the admission process on the individual websites of the college you are interested in.

Step 1: CAT 2021 Entrance Test

1.    Students will write the CAT 2021 entrance test in November 2021, after which the IIMs will announce the cutoffs – sectional and overall
2.    Based on their performance, candidates will be selected for further rounds
3.    Each IIM will take out their individual CAT exam 2021 cutoff and call students.

Step 2: GD and/or WAT

Candidates who clear the individual cutoff for respective IIMs will be called for Writing Ability Test and a Group Discussion

Step 3: Personal Interview (PI)

The final round is the personal interview where candidates are judged on - knowledge, communication skills, overall academic performance, performance in previous rounds and common sense.

Step 4: Individual Final Merit List

  • Each IIM releases its individual admission criteria on their website.
  • Based on the below factors the IIMs release their final merit list
    • CAT exam score
    • Overall performance in WAT, GD and PI rounds
    • Class 10th and 12th Marks
    • Gender Diversity Factor
    • Work Experience
    • Reservations

CAT Analysis

To ace this competitive exam, it is very important to understand and analyze the question papers from previous years.

From 2015 to 2018, the exam pattern has remained unchanged. There were 34 questions from the QA section, 32 from LR & DI, and 34 from VARC.

You may be wondering about the significance of this analysis, so, here are some of its uses:

  • It helps you understand the pattern of the exam. This aids you in applying strategic plans to solve these papers.
  • It helps you understand the level of difficulty. You can figure out which sections are more difficult and tailor your study plan accordingly.
  • It helps you figure out the important topics so that you can identify them and focus on preparing them better.

Useful Resources for CAT Exam:
-CAT Result
-CAT Sample Papers
-CAT Previous Year Question Paper
- CAT Admit Card
- CAT Exam Pattern

FAQs About CAT Exam

What is CAT Exam full form?

CAT stands for Common Admission Test, which is a computer-based test for admission in a graduate management program.

How How to prepare for the CAT Exam Syllabus?

Over 50% of your preparation for the CAT entrance exam should entail solving mock papers. You need to confront your weak areas and work on them. Refer to important texts for the three different sections in the paper. Based on your strengths and weaknesses, make a list of topics and address the weak areas. Make good use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Telegram, and YouTube by joining online study groups. Devote an equal amount of time to the three different sections of the paper. Cover a topic from each section every day.

How many times is the CAT Exam conducted in a year?

CAT entrance exam is conducted once a year, usually in November or December.

What is the CAT Exam for?

Also known as the Common Admission Test, CAT exam is a computer-based common aptitude examination for a 2-year MBA program from 20 IIM colleges and other reputable B-schools in India.

Is the CAT Exam only for an MBA?

CAT entrance exam is meant for a 2-year MBA program. However, you can also apply for an MBA program based on other management exams like XAT, MAT, CMAT, etc. You can get a list of MBA colleges with low CAT scores with our Sunstone blog.

When can I apply for CAT exam 2021?

The applications for CAT entrance exam 2021 started on 4 August 2021. It ends on 15th September 2021. You can register for the exam on the official website of IIM-CAT.

How many attempts for the CAT exam are allowed?

There is no limit to the number of times that a candidate can take the CAT entrance exam.

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CAT Cut Offs 2022 for IIMs and Top MBA Colleges

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