CAT Exam Pattern 2021 (Updated): Sectional & Overall Pattern

Exam Date

Nov 28, 2021

Oct 27, 2021 | Management

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The CAT 2021 exam pattern to remain the same as 2020, but the total number of questions will be reduced. Therefore, the candidates are advised to visit the website regularly to never miss an update on CAT Exam. Any CAT pattern change will be updated here. It is important for candidates to be well acquainted with the latest CAT exam paper pattern so that they can devise effective exam-day strategies. They must be aware of the marking scheme, sectional time limits, etc. All the candidates must be mindful of the CAT exam pattern change.

All the important details related to the CAT exam pattern 2021 can be found on this page.

Contents:

CAT Exam Pattern Highlights 2021

The CAT paper pattern to remain the same as 2020, but the total number of questions will be reduced. Therefore, the candidates are advised to visit the website regularly to never miss an update. CAT will be held in online mode, as a Computer-Based Test (CBT). Several changes were incorporated in the CAT exam pattern recently. The highlights of the CAT exam pattern 2021 are discussed in this section.

Duration: Total time allotted for the CAT is reduced to 2 hours (120 minutes), without any breaks in between. The exam duration was 3 hours previously. The candidates have to make the strategy as per the CAT exam time duration. 

Objective and Non-Objective type: About 70%-75% of questions are objective type questions (MCQs), and the remaining 25%-30% are non-objective type, descriptive questions (Non-MCQs).

Sectional Time Limit: Only 40 minutes will be allotted to candidates for attempting each section. Candidates will not get any additional time to solve that section. Switching between the sections is also prohibited.

CAT Exam Pattern Highlights
Elements Details
Examination type Online, Computer-Based Test (CBT)
Number of sections 3 sections- Verbal & Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning, and Quantitative Aptitude
Duration of exam 120 minutes (40 minutes per section)
Medium English
Marking scheme

+3 marks for correct answer & -1 mark for the incorrect answer (MCQ)

+3 marks for the correct answer. No negative marking. (TITA Questions)

Note: In 2020, the question paper had a total of 76 questions. The number of questions is likely to remain the same in the year 2021 as well. However, the candidates are requested to wait for the official announcement about the total number of questions. 

Section-wise CAT 2021 Exam Pattern

Each section needs a different kind of preparation, depending on the strengths and weaknesses of the student. The candidates can check out the CAT exam pattern PDF online. The difficulty level of CAT varies from medium to hard. The section-wise CAT pattern 2021 is given below. 

Section-wise exam pattern for CAT 2021 (expected)
CAT Subjects Abbreviation

Total Number of Questions (as per 2020)

Level of Difficulty Number of MCQ (as per 2020) Number of Non-MCQ (as per 2020)
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension VARC 26 Moderate to Difficult 18 8
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning DILR 24 Moderate to Difficult 18 6
Quantitative Aptitude QA 26 Moderate to Difficult 18 8
Total   76   54 22

Section-wise Time Duration in CAT 2021

Duration of Each Section: Candidates will get 2 hours to solve the entire question paper. Each section has to be attempted in 40 minutes. No section can be switched or swapped while writing the exam. 

Duration in the Previous Years: Prior to 2020 the CAT exam was of 180 minutes duration, i.e., 3 hours

PWD and DA Duration: Candidates in the PWD (Persons with Disability), and DA (Differently Abled) category will be given 53 minutes & 20 seconds to attempt each section.

CAT Marking Scheme 2021

A table curated with details related to the CAT 2021 question paper such as the type of questions marks allotted for the right answer and marks deducted for every wrong answer and questions which are unattempted is given below.

CAT 2021 Marking Scheme
Type of Question Correct Answer Incorrect Answer Non-attempted Questions
MCQ 3 -1 0
Non-MCQ 3 0 0

How to Answer the Questions in CAT 2021?

Students should have a basic understanding of how to answer questions before beginning the CAT exam. When answering questions, candidates should consider the following options.

  • Save and Next: Candidates should choose one answer, save it, and then go on to the next one.

  • Clear Response: Candidates will have the option of deleting their response to the question they answered.

  • Mark for Review and Next: If a candidate is unsure about an answer, they can mark it for review, answer it, and then move on to the next question.

Note: When answering questions, use the provided mouse. The computer screen will be locked if you use the system keyboard.

What Does Each Color on the Panel Represent?

Refer to the information given below to know what does each color on the panel represent.

Panel Colour What it Indicates
Red The question was not answered and is not marked for review.
Green The question was answered and not reviewed.
Grey Question not viewed or visited.
Violet The question is marked for review and not yet answered.
Violet with Green tick The question was marked and answered for review.

Changes in the CAT Exam Pattern Over the Years

Several changes have been observed in the pattern of CAT question paper pattern over the years. In 2020, due to the outbreak of Coronavirus, the exam duration and the number of questions saw a considerable reduction. Here's a table showing how the changes have been incorporated over the years.

Changes in the CAT Exam Pattern over the years
Years Sections Duration No. of questions
2020 QA, DILR, and VARC 120 76
2015-2019 QA, DILR, and VARC 180 100
2014 QA and DI, LR and VARC 170 100
2011-2013 QA and DI, LR and VARC 140 60
2010 QA and DI, LR and VARC 150 60

CAT Exam Pattern vs Other MBA Entrance Exam Patterns

Aspirants of Management courses must definitely be aware of all the competitive exams apart from CAT. We thought of comparing the CAT question pattern 2021 with that of the other Top Management Entrance Exams to help aspiring candidates know about the key points of the exams and the major differences.

CAT Exam Pattern vs NMAT Exam Pattern

The table provided below gives a brief insight into the new CAT 2021 pattern in comparison with the NMAT exam pattern. The table has the components of the exam pattern its details with respect to the CAT exam and the NMAT exam.

CAT Exam Pattern vs NMAT Exam Pattern
Component CAT Exam Pattern
NMAT Exam Pattern
Answer Options for MCQs 4 5
Total Number of Questions 76 (As per 2020) 108 (As per 2020)
Difficulty Level Comparatively high Moderate
Number of Sections 3 3
Negative Marking MCQs with 1/3 negative marking; No negative marking for Non-MCQs
No negative marking
Marks Awarded for a Correct Answer 3 1
Type of Questions MCQs and Non-MCQs All MCQs
Exam Duration 2 hours 2 hours
Number of Questions in a Section Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension: 26 (As per 2020)
Language Skills-36 (As per 2020)
Number of Questions in a Section Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning:24 (As per 2020)
Logical Reasoning-36 (As per 2020)
Number of Questions in a Section Quantitative Ability: 26 (As per 2020)
Quantitative Skills-36 (As per 2020)
Sectional Time Limit 40 minutes
28 minutes to 62 minutes
Top MBA Colleges Accepting Exam Score 20 IIMs, FMS, MDI, SPJIMR, IMI, IITs, XIMB NMIMS, VIT, XIMB

CAT Exam Pattern vs XAT Exam Pattern

The table provided below gives a brief insight into the CAT pattern 2021 in comparison with the XAT exam pattern. The table has the components of the exam pattern its details with respect to the CAT exam and the XAT exam.

CAT Exam Pattern vs XAT Exam Pattern
Component CAT Exam Pattern XAT Exam Pattern
Negative Marking

MCQs with 1/3 negative marking;

No negative marking for Non-MCQs

75 MCQs with 1/4 negative marking;
No negative marking for 25 MCQs on GK
Number of Sections 3
3 (Main sections) 1 (GK score not counted)
Type of Questions MCQs, and Non-MCQs MCQs
Exam Duration 2 hours 3 hours
Marks Awarded for Each Correct Answer 3 1
Options for Each MCQ 4 5
Difficulty Level Comparatively high High
Total Number of Questions 76 (As per 2020) 100
Number of Questions in Each Section Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension 26 (As per 2020)
English Language & Logical Reasoning- 26
Number of Questions in Each Section Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning- 24 (As per 2020)
Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation- 28
Number of Questions in Each Section Quantitative Ability- 26 (As per 2020)
Decision Making-21
Sectional Time Limit Each section with 40 Minute time limit No
Top MBA Colleges Accepting Exam Score 20 IIMs, FMS, MDI, SPJIMR, IMI, IITs, XIMB
XLRI, SPJIMR, IMT, TAPMI, XIMB

CAT Exam Pattern vs SNAP Exam Pattern

The table provided below gives a brief insight into the new CAT exam pattern in comparison with the SNAP exam pattern. The table has the components of the exam pattern its details with respect to the CAT exam and the SNAP exam.

CAT Exam Pattern vs SNAP Exam Pattern
Component  CAT 2020 SNAP 2020
Negative Marking MCQs with 1/3 negative marking;
25% for all questions
Marks Awarded for Each Correct Answer 3 for all questions 1 for all questions
Number of Sections 3 3
Total Questions 66-70 60
Answer Options for MCQs 4 4
Overall Time Limit to Attempt the Exam
2 hours 1 hour
Difficult Moderate
Type of Questions MCQs, non-MCQs 60 MCQs
Negative Marking for Descriptive Questions No NA
Section-1: Name and Number of Questions Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension: 22-24
General English, RC, VR, VA-15
Section-2: Name and Number of Questions Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning:20-22
Analytical & Logical Reasoning-25
Section-3: Name and Number of Questions Quantitative Ability:22-24
Quant, DI, Data Sufficiency-20
Sectional Time Limit 40 minutes No
Top MBA Colleges Accepting Exam Score 20 IIMs, FMS, MDI, SPJIMR, IMI, IMT, IITs, TAPMI, XIMB, and hundreds of other B-schools.
SIBM Pune, SCMHRD Pune, SIIB Pune, SIBM Bangalore & all other Symbiosis institutes.

CAT Exam Pattern vs MAT Exam Pattern

The table provided below gives a brief insight into the new CAT exam pattern in comparison with the MAT exam pattern. The table has the components of the exam pattern its details with respect to the CAT exam and the MAT exam.

CAT Exam Pattern vs MAT Exam Pattern
Component CAT Exam Pattern MAT Exam Pattern
Number of Sections 3 5
Question Format MCQs, and Non-MCQs All MCQs
Total Questions 66-76 200
Difficulty Level Difficult Easy to Moderate
Negative Marking MCQs with 1/3 negative marking; No negative marking for Non-MCQs 0.25 mark
Exam Duration 2 hours 2½ hours
Marks Awarded for Each Correct Answer 3 1
Answer Options for MCQs 4 4
Section-1: Name and Number of Questions Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension: 22-24
Language Comprehension: 40
Section-2: Name and Number of Questions Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning:20-22
Intelligence & Critical Reasoning: 40
Section-3: Name and Number of Questions Quantitative Ability:22-24
Data Analysis & Sufficiency: 40
Section-4: Name and Number of Questions Not Applicable
Mathematical Skills: 40
Section-5: Name and Number of Questions Not Applicable
Indian & Global Environment: 40
Sectional Time Limit 40 minutes
No sectional time limit
Top MBA Colleges Accepting Exam Score 20 IIMs, FMS, MDI, NITIE, SPJIMR, IMI, IMT, IITs, TAPMI, XIMB and hundreds of others
Christ University, NDIM, DSIMS, IPE, IESMCRC, FIIB among 600 MBA colleges

Note:

  • Candidates can understand the new CAT Exam pattern in detail, by taking up the CAT Mock test on the official website.
  • Apart from the details about the CAT exam pattern, the conducting body also released a few important instructions to the candidates. The aspirants can visit the official website to check out other details. 

CAT Exam Syllabus 2021

The CAT question paper for 2021 will be divided into three sections- Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Aptitude (QA). The several kinds of questions that may be asked in each section are discussed below. Candidates are advised to go through the topics/types and practice similar questions, as it would help them enhance their speed and improve accuracy.

CAT 2021 Logical Reasoning Important Topics

CAT 2021 Exam Pattern Logical Reasoning
Topic Expected Number of Questions
Seating Arrangement, and Data Arrangement 2-3 Questions
Graphs Related 5-6 Questions
Syllogisms and Venn Diagrams 2-3 Questions
Blood Relations 2-3 Questions
Clocks and Calendars 1-2 Questions
Assumption and Binary Logic 1-2 Questions
Puzzles 1-2 Questions
Tables and Caselets 3-5 Questions
Data Sufficiency 3-5 Questions

CAT 2021 Quantitative Aptitude Important Topics

CAT 2021 Exam Pattern Quantitative Aptitude
Topic Expected Number of Questions
Number System, Basic Arithmetic 4-8 Questions
Algebra 3-5 Questions
Geometry & Mensuration 3-5 Questions
Time, Speed, and Distance 1-3 Questions
Probability 1-2 Questions
Permutation & Combination 1-2 Questions
Trigonometry, Logarithms, and Sets 1-3 Questions
Profit, Loss, and Discounts 1-2 Questions
Time and Work 1-2 Questions
Simple Interest and Compound Interest 1-2 Questions

CAT 2021 Verbal Ability Important Topics

CAT 2021 Exam Pattern Verbal Ability
Topic Expected Number of Questions
Reading Comprehension 15-18 Questions
Para-Jumbles 3-4 Questions
Para-Summary 2-3 Questions
Sentence Completion and Correction 2-3 Questions
Fill in the Blanks 1-2 Questions
Odd Sentences 1-2 Questions
Vocabulary Based 1-2 Questions

Read More: CAT 2021 Exam Syllabus

CAT Exam Pattern FAQs

Q. According to the new CAT Exam Pattern what are the questions asked in the VARC Section of CAT?

Ans: The CAT 2021 exam pattern specifies that the VARC section will have questions from reading comprehension passages and some others like sentence completion, jumbled sentences, and critical reasoning.

Q. How many RC passages will be there in the Verbal section of the CAT Exam Pattern?

Ans: Verbal section will have a total of 4 to 5 RC passages. It varies every year.

Q. Will the screen calculator be available for the DILR section?

Ans: According to the CAT 2021 exam pattern, the virtual screen calculator will be available on the test page for QA as well as DILR sections.

Q. What is the total mark of a non-MCQ type question?

Ans: Each non-MCQ type question of every section carries 3 marks similar to other MCQ questions. But there will not be any negative marking for a non-MCQ-based question.

Q. Can we jump between the sections?

Ans. The candidates will have to attempt the sections strictly in the order in which they are asked. The sectional-order of the questions in CAT 2021 question paper is predefined.

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