CAT exam pattern 2021 – check MBA CAT paper pattern, question paper structure, marking scheme and more

  • By Christy J. Varghese
  • 6 October 2021

CAT Exam Pattern 2021 – To crack the Common Admission Test with a high percentile, the candidates need to prepare as per the paper pattern and syllabus. The MBA CAT exam pattern 2021 will release officially along with the exam notification on the official website, www.iimcat.ac.in. CAT paper pattern provides the structure of the exam concerning the no. of questions, mode of exam, no. & name of sections, and duration of exam, etc. The exam pattern of CAT 2021 is expected to remain unchanged and will be similar to that of last year. Keep reading this post for complete details on the CAT exam pattern 2021 and marking scheme. 

The CAT 2021 notification was released in July and the exam registration started on 4th August 2021. The eligible and interested candidates can click on the link below to apply for this MBA entrance test. Click Here to Register for CAT 2021 Exam

CAT 2021 Exam Pattern

CAT has always been the exam of surprises, and this characteristic only makes it the toughest one to crack for the management aspirants. It is the gateway to not just IIMs but all the B-schools of India, including Sunstone for admissions to MBA, PGDM, Executive, and other postgraduate management exams. The CAT Exam aims to examine the basic aptitude and skills of the candidates in quant, critical & logical thinking, reasoning, and data interpretation.

The candidates aiming to appear for the Common Admission Test this year must go through the CAT exam pattern 2021 before beginning with their preparations. Compared to the 2021 exam pattern, a number of changes have been incorporated in CAT 2021. Having clarity and an idea about the new exam pattern will help them understand the question paper format and the marking scheme.

To get accustomed to the CAT test pattern 2021, the candidates must take the mock tests. These tests will give them an idea about the kind of questions that are asked in the exam and the difficulty level of the exam. Also, the CAT examinees can refer to the CAT model test papers, previous year question papers, and sample papers for effective preparation.

CAT Exam Pattern 2021

  • Mode of Exam – It is a computer-based test (CBT), where candidates can attempt this exam via assigned computer systems. They will have to mark the options of MCQs using the mouse and type the answers for the descriptive questions.

  • Duration of the CAT – The exam will be 2 hours (180 minutes). However, for PwD candidates, the duration of CAT 2021 will be 2.5 hours. PWD candidates with or without a scribe requirement will be given a time extension of 10 minutes per section.

  • Sectional Constraint – To attempt each section, only 40 minutes will be given. If the candidates finish a particular section in less than 40 minutes, he/she cannot proceed further until 40 minutes for that section are over. The “Submit button” will be enabled only upon completion of test time. The candidates will have to be seated at their seats for the entire duration of the CAT 2021 test even if they complete it early.

  • Type of Questions – Multiple choice (MCQ) and Type in the Answer (TITA) questions will be asked in CAT 2021 exam. The objective-type questions will have 4 options and the candidates will have to opt for one correct answer.

  • Number of Questions – According to the CAT paper pattern 2021, the total number of questions will be 76. There will be 54 MCQ questions and 22 non-MCQ questions. The total marks for CAT 2021 would be 228.

  • The number of sections – Total 3 sections will be there in the exam – Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Aptitude (QA).

  • Switching between the sections – The candidates will not have the option to switch in between the 3 sections.

  • Online Calculator – As per the expected CAT 2021 exam pattern, an online calculator will be provided for performing basic calculations.

  • Online Exam Tutorial – An official tutorial for a better understanding of the CAT exam structure and pattern will be made available on the official website of IIM CAT. The candidates must go through this tutorial to understand how they should take the exam.

CAT Question Paper Structure 2021

The candidates planning to take CAT can go through this table to have more clarity on the CAT exam pattern.

Sequence of Sections in CAT Name of Section No. of MCQs No. of Non-MCQs Total No. of Questions from each section Total Marks Minutes allotted for each section
1 Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VRC) 18 8 27 78 40
2 Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DI & LR) 18 6 24 72 40
3 Quantitative Ability (QA) 18 8 26 78 40
Total 54 22 228 228 120

CAT 2021 Marking Scheme

The CAT exam pattern of 2021 will also reveal the marking scheme of the exam. Knowing the CAT marking scheme 2021 is equally important as one can draw an idea about how the questions will be marked in the test, how many questions they need to answer correctly, and with how many questions they can freely do the guesswork.

From the table below, the candidates can check the marking scheme of CAT 2021.

Total number of Questions in the exam 76
Marks for each question 3 (For MCQ & non-MCQ)
Total Marks 228 (76*3)
For marking a correct answer 3 mark will be given
For marking an incorrect answer (MCQ) 1 mark will be deducted
For answering Non-MCQ incorrectly No mark will be deducted
For leaving the questions unanswered No mark will be awarded or deducted

Also, Know How to become industry-ready and earn a high salary after MBA?

Official CAT Exam Tutorial

During the duration of the CAT test, an on-screen timer will continuously keep flashing on the computer screens of the candidates. This timer will keep displaying the leftover minutes for the test. As mentioned before, the candidates will not be allowed to toggle between the 3 sections and will only have an option of attempting one section at a time. Though they are free to attempt any of the sections first, and also can choose to answer the questions in any sequence, but it has to be within the time duration of 60 minutes only.

The questions answered and marked for review by the candidate will be shown with a tick mark. However, the questions simply marked for review and are unanswered will not be carrying a tick mark and will be in violet colour.

A panel on the right-hand side of the computer screen will keep displaying the status of the questions in distinct four colours. These colours will help the candidates manage and identify the questions answered/unanswered by them. The different colours and the status indicated by them have been stated below –

  • Green Colour – It will indicate the questions answered by the candidate
  • Red Colour – It will indicate the questions unanswered by the candidate
  • White Colour – It will indicate the questions not yet viewed by the candidate
  • Violet Colour – It will indicate the questions marked for review by the candidate

Common Admission Test 2021 will be organized in over 150 cities of the country. The score of this test remains valid for a year and is accepted by Sunstone – the only B-school that takes an MBA tuition fee only after getting its students placed.

 Important topics for CAT 2021

The difficulty level of the CAT exam is between moderate to high. Your preparation needs to be top-notch to ace the exam with a good percentile. We have given a section-wise list of important topics for CAT 2021 below.  

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)

  • Correction of sentences
  • Assumption - Inferences
  • Reading Comprehension passage
  • Rearranging paragraphs

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)

  • Graphs, Tables, and Charts
  • Syllogism
  • Blood relations 
  • Number series
  • Case data interpretation
  • Seat arrangement

Quantitative Aptitude (QA)

  • Arithmetic
  • Geometry
  • Algebra
  • Mensuration
  • Number Systems

Useful Resources for CAT Exam: - CAT Result - CAT Admit Card

About Sunstone

At Sunstone , industry-oriented MBA and PGDM programs are offered that prepare the students for the ever-evolving business world. The program curriculum focuses on imparting relevant knowledge of business concepts and principles which are genuinely put to use in the real world. Sunstone has tech-led pedagogy, faculty who have corporate experience, and a student-centric approach that transforms students’ careers and focuses on their holistic development. 

Moreover, the fee structure of the management programs and the sense of accountability they take for their student’s careers make Sunstone unique. It takes complete responsibility for its student’s success and job placement. To date, it has had 100% placement for all its batches with students placed in good companies like Amazon, Byte Dance (TikTok), Reliance Jio, Flipkart, etc. 

Upskill yourself with the best management programs, tech-led pedagogy and economical fee payment plans – Apply Now! 

Sunstone Fee Structure

They have two fee plans which are as follow:

  • Pay After Placement – Students pay a nominal fee at the time of admission, and only after getting a job on the completion of the course, they pay the full course fees.
  • Money-Back Guarantee – Students pay a fixed amount of fee at the time of admission and get a refund of tuition fees in case not placed.

For more details on Sunstone’s Fee Structure – Click Here

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FAQs related to CAT Exam pattern

Is CAT Exam tough or easy?

The difficulty level of the CAT exam is high. It is the most competitive management aptitude test in India that offers admission not just to IIMs but also to more or less all MBA colleges.

Is 70 percentile good in CAT?

A score in the range of 70 - 80 is quite competitive. While it may not be enough to get into any of the IIMs, there are many good colleges where cut-offs are between 70-80 percentile.

What is the CAT pattern 2021?

CAT exam pattern has been significantly changed for the 2021 exam. There will be 3 sections with varying numbers of questions in each section. The total number of questions will be 78 and the total time for the exam will be 2 hours. Each question will carry 3 marks and 1 mark will be deducted for every wrong answer.

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