CAT Exam Pattern for 2023 - Model Question Paper

  • By Bhavya Thakkar
  • 16 December 2022
CAT Exam Pattern for 2023

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The Common Admission Test (CAT) is a computer-based admissions exam for graduate management programmes. The CAT exam pattern consists of three parts: verbal ability and reading comprehension, data interpretation and logical reasoning, and quantitative ability. Students who want to pursue an MBA from a top-tier B-School in India must take the CAT because approximately 1,200 MBA colleges accept the scores for admission to their postgraduate management programmes.

Highlights of the CAT Exam Structure 2023

Here are some key points to remember about the new CAT exam pattern 2023 in bulleted and tabulated format.

  • The exam will likely consist of multiple-choice questions (MCQ) and Type In The Answers (TITA).
  • There were a total of 76 questions. However, the number of questions has been reduced from 76 to 66 since last year.
  • The exam will last approximately 120 minutes (2 hours).
  • The language of the question paper or the medium of instruction is solely English.
  • The CAT exam occurs in three sessions: in the morning (from 8.30 AM to 10.30 AM), in the afternoon (from 12.30 PM to 2.30 PM), and in the evening (from 4.30 PM to 6.30 PM).
  • You must bring the CAT admit card to the designated testing centre on exam day.



Test Name

Common Admission Test (CAT)


120 minutes

Test Sections

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

Type of Questions

Multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and Type in your Answer (TITA)

No. of Questions


Mode of Exam

Computer-based or Online

Language of Question Paper


Total Marks


CAT Exam Question Pattern (Expected)

The total number of questions and number of questions per section in the CAT question pattern keeps changing every year. On a larger scale, there are around 66 questions combining each section. 

Test Sections

No. of Questions



Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)


40 minutes


Quantitative Ability (QA) 


40 minutes


Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)


40 minutes




120 minutes 


Based on the CAT exam paper pattern of previous years, the following topics from the various sections are relevant:

Verbal & Reading Comprehension (VARC)

  • Analogies
  • Idioms
  • Fact Inference Judgement
  • Para Completion
  • Para Jumble
  • Fill in the blanks
  • Word usage
  • Sentence Correction etc.

Quantitative Aptitude (QA)

  • Variation
  • Linear and Quadratics Equations
  • Time, Speed and Distance
  • Surds and Indices
  • Mensuration and Geometry
  • Logarithms
  • Percentage
  • Time and Work
  • Allegations and Mixtures, etc. 

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning

  • Syllogism
  • Data Arrangement
  • Seating Arrangement
  • Puzzles
  • Propositions
  • Line Graph, Pie Chart and Bar Graph
  • Blood Relations
  • Venn Diagram
  • Data Sufficiency
  • Combination of Graphs
  • Assumptions etc.

CAT Marking Scheme 

The Common Admission Test (CAT), similar to nearly all large-scale exams, employs multiple test forms or versions. As a result, it consists of two types of scores: raw and scaled scores. 

Examiners calculate the raw score for each section based on the number of questions answered correctly, incorrectly, or left unattempted. These raw scores are adjusted using a technique known as equating. Equated raw scores are then placed on a standard scale or metric to ensure that the interpretation of the scores is appropriate. This method is known as scaling.

  • Students earn +3 points for correct answers
  • Students lose -1 point for incorrect answers. 
  • There are no points awarded for questions not answered. 

Test Section

Correct Answer (Marks)

Incorrect Answer (Marks)

Multiple-Choice Questions



Type in the Answer (TITA) Questions


Change in the CAT Question Paper Pattern Over The Years

Prior to 2009, the CAT was a paper-based exam given to all students on a single day. The CAT paper pattern, number of questions, and duration have all changed significantly over the years. On May 1, 2009, authorities announced that the CAT would be a computer-based test beginning in 2009. From 2009 to 2013, the American firm Prometric started administering the exam. 

The first computer-based CAT encountered technical difficulties. As the issue was serious, the Government of India requested a report from the committee chair. The problem named 'Conficker' and 'W32 Nimda,' two viruses that attacked the test's system display, caused the server to slow down. Hence, the firm Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has administered the CAT exam since 2014.

The CAT 2015 and CAT 2016 were 180-minute tests with 100 questions (34 in Quantitative Ability, 34 in Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, and 32 in Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning). Due to the COVID precautions in 2020, The Indian Institutes of Management Indore decided to conduct the CAT Exam in two hours, with 40 minutes devoted to each section. 

Preparation Tips for the CAT Question Paper Pattern

Suggestions for VARC: 

Since this section covers four different topics, students require a different strategy for each. Here are some pointers to help you prepare for the VARC section.

  • Practice through mock tests because these are essential for preparing for grammar and verbal ability exams.
  • Improve your vocabulary by learning new words from dictionaries, articles, and newspapers, among other sources.
  • Make it a habit to read at least one passage per day.
  • Keep a timer to assess how much time you spent reading the passage.

Suggestions for DILR:

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning necessitate conceptual clarity for all fundamental concepts. The questions in this section necessitate close attention to detail.

  • Vedic Maths allows students to solve problems quickly and accurately.
  • Assumptions can lead to errors, so pay attention to the details.
  • DI is concerned with topics such as seating arrangements, coding-decoding, team formation, clocks and calendars, Venn Diagrams, and bar graphs.
  • Candidates should begin by solving puzzles, logical reasoning questions, or Sudoku puzzles from mock exam papers, study materials, and online websites.

Suggestions for QA:

The Quantitative Aptitude section of the CAT exam pattern is the most difficult. This section covers Modern Maths, Number Systems, Geometry, Mensuration, Algebra, and Arithmetic. To prepare for the quant section, use the following advice for the desired CAT result.

  • Make a list of all the crucial mathematical formulas and concepts. Prepare flashcards to memorise the same. 
  • Learning up to 30 squares, 20 cubes, and 40 tables will help you save time.
  • Try answering as many quantitative questions in as little time as possible.


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Also Read

  1. CAT exam preparation
  2. CAT Exam date, Question papers and syllabus
  3. CAT cut offs 2022 for IIMs and other top MBA colleges

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