CAT Exam Pattern 2023: Paper Pattern, Marking Scheme

Exam Date

Nov 26, 2023

Jan 25, 2023 | Management

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CAT exam pattern 2023 remains the same, but the total number of questions will be reduced. Therefore, the candidates are advised to visit the website regularly and 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 know the CAT 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 2023 can be found on this page.

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Table of Contents

CAT Exam Pattern 2023: Major Highlights

Candidates should be aware of the CAT exam pattern 2023 before taking it. Along with the CAT 2023 exam dates and the announcement, the CAT exam format and test method will also be released. Candidates who intend to take the CAT exam 2023 should familiarise themselves with the most recent CAT exam pattern and material.

The covid-19 pandemic can be blamed for the major changes in the CAT exam pattern during the past two years. Read the article to learn more about the CAT 2023 exam pattern in full, including the CAT exam paper pattern, the time allotted for each portion of the exam, the scoring system, and other information.

CAT 2023 Test Pattern

Candidate can refer to the following table for details regarding CAT paper pattern

CAT 2023 Exam  Pattern

Elements

Details

Duration of CAT Exam

2 Hours (120 Minutes)

Name of CAT Section

  • Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)
  • Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)
  • Quantitative Aptitude (QA)

Section-Wise Duration

  • 40 Minutes for Each Section (VARC, DILR, QA).
  • 53 Minutes 20 Seconds for PwD candidates for each section.

Slot-Wise Session

  • Slot 1: 8:30 am - 10:30 am (Morning Session)
  • Slot 2: 12:30 pm - 2:30 pm (Afternoon Session)
  • Slot 3: 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm (Evening Session)

Number of Questions

66 Questions

CAT Exam Total Marks

198 marks

Mode of CAT 2023 Exam

Computer-Based Mode (CBT)

CAT Marking Scheme

  • For every right answer, +3 will be awarded
  • For every wrong answer in MCQs, -1 will be deducted
  • No negative marks for Non-MCQs

CAT Paper Pattern 2023- Important Points

During the CAT exam, candidates may perform calculations using an on-screen calculator. Candidates can check their time by using an on-screen clock. Candidates will be given rough worksheets, which must be submitted after the CAT exam for the MBA.

Read More: How to Use Calculator in CAT Exam?

Candidates will not be permitted to answer questions in one part and then move on to another. The official CAT mock test will be available on the CAT website, iimcat.ac.in. It generally provides the IIM CAT 2023 exam pattern overall and by section. CAT 2023 will be conducted in three sessions, including: 

  • Morning session (8:30 am - 10:30 pm)
  • Afternoon class (12:30 pm - 2:30 pm)
  • Evening class (4:30 pm - 6:30 pm).
Best Time for CAT 2023 Preparation How to Prepare for CAT 2023 Exam in 3 Months
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What's New in CAT Exam Pattern?

The overall number of questions has changed since last year, which is the only modification to the CAT exam schedule. IIM Ahmedabad, the organization in charge of administering the CAT exam in 2021, kept the same pattern as in 2020 but decreased the number of questions from 76 to 66.

The CAT exam pattern had 180 minutes or three hours (with a 60-minute sectional time limit) and 100 questions up until 2019, the CAT paper pattern was changed in 2020, five years later. The current CAT exam pattern lasts 120 minutes, or two hours, with a 40-minute sectional time limit. Before 2020, PwD applicants received an additional 20 minutes for each segment, but starting that year, they will only receive an additional 13.20 minutes.

Section-Wise CAT Exam Pattern 2023

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 2023 online. The difficulty level of CAT varies from medium to hard. The section-wise CAT exam pattern 2023 is given below.

CAT Exam Pattern Section-wise

Section as per IIM CAT Exam Pattern 2023

Total Questions

Allotted Time

Allotted Time for PwD Students

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)

24

40 Minutes

53 minutes and 20 seconds

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)

20

40 Minutes

53 minutes and 20 seconds

Quantitative Aptitude (QA)

20

40 Minutes

53 minutes and 20 seconds

Total

66

120 Minutes

160 minutes

CAT Exam Pattern

CAT Quantitative Aptitude Pattern

CAT's quantitative aptitude portion is a separate section that only includes numerical-based inquiries from various mathematic disciplines. This year, there are a total of 26 questions in this section. Below is a full description of the quantitative aptitude section's pattern.

The five topics that make up the entire quantitative section are:

  • Basic Arithmetic
  • Algebra
  • Number System
  • Geometry & Mensuration
  • Modern Maths

CAT Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension Pattern

CAT VARC component primarily assesses applicants' English proficiency and ability to comprehend and interpret paragraphs. This year's CAT exam will include 26 questions from the VA-RC segment.

There will be 8 questions in the CAT Verbal Ability section this year. The key topics covered in the Verbal Ability section are as follows:

  • Sentence Correction and Completion Summary based on paraphrasing
  • A combination of questions from the reading comprehension sections and the verbal abilities part make up the entire exam.
  • CAT reading comprehension questions come in various formats, including title- and vocabulary-based questions.

CAT Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation Pattern

The logical thinking and data interpretation component tests the candidates' ability to interpret data and comprehend logical premises. There will be 22–24 questions in this section altogether. This year, the logical reasoning component of the CAT will contain 18–20 questions. Inequalities, symbol operations, direction sense tests, and other topics are included in the problems. This segment receives a high score since the questions are simple to answer.

The data interpretation phase, on the other hand, is a little challenging and time-consuming. This section has a number of perplexing data cases, and in order to successfully complete the question sets, applicants must fully comprehend the data sets. The data interpretation section of the CAT should be cautiously approached because one error can cause candidates to answer all the questions from a given set wrong.

Slot Wise Highlights in MBA CAT Exam Pattern 2023 (Expected)

  • VARC sections: 18 MCQs are spread throughout 4 RC sections in the VARC section, and the remaining 8 non-MCQ questions are broken down into context sentences, paraphrases, and para jumbles.
  • Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning: 14 Questions, 10 Questions, all in sets of 6 & 4 Questions
  • QA: Strong in arithmetic; average in geometry, algebra, logarithms, roots, etc.

CAT Paper Pattern

CAT Exam Time Duration

Each segment of the CAT exam has a set time limit. According to the most recent CAT exam pattern, the sectional timings and slot details are listed below. Consult professional CAT preparation recommendations to finish all the chapters and key topics in time.

CAT Exam Time Duration

Sections as per the CAT Exam Pattern

CAT Sectional Time

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)

40 Minutes

Quantitative Aptitude (QA)

40 Minutes

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)

40 Minutes

Total

120 Minutes

CAT Marking Scheme 2023

The marking system is part of the CAT exam design. It informs applicants of the overall number of points awarded for each correctly answered question and the number of points that will be subtracted for erroneous responses.

  • A total of three marks will be given for each correct response.
  • One mark will be taken away for each incorrect response.
  • No points will be deducted for questions that go unanswered. No points will be deducted for non-MCQ questions either.

The marking system for CAT 2023 is listed in the following table:

CAT 2023 Marking Scheme
Type of Question Correct Answer Incorrect Answer Non-attempted Questions
MCQ 3 -1 0
Non-MCQ 3 0 0

How Has the CAT Exam Pattern Evolved Over the Years?

The CAT exam format has undergone numerous changes. The applicants will be able to have a good understanding of how the CAT exam format changed over time by consulting the table below. CAT is divided into three components, including

  • Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VARC)
  • Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)
  • Quantitative Aptitude (QA)

Each year's portions are identical to one another. The marking scheme for the CAT exam pattern is also the same.

CAT Year

Number of Question

Difficulty Level

Duration

IIMs

2021

66

Moderate to High (Expected)

2 hours

IIM Ahmedabad

2020

76

Moderate to Difficult

2 hours

IIM Indore

2019

100

Moderate to Difficult

3 hours

IIM Kozhikode

2018

100

Moderate to Difficult

3 hours

IIM Calcutta

2017

100

Moderate

3 hours

IIM Lucknow

2016

100

Moderate to Difficult

3 hours

IIM Bangalore

2015

100

Moderate to Difficult

3 hours

IIM Ahmedabad 

2014

100

Moderate to Easy

2.50 hours

IIM Indore

2013

60

Moderate to Easy

2:20 hours

IIM Indore

2012

60

Moderate to Easy

2.20 hours

IIM Indore

2011

60

Moderate

2.20 hours

IIM Calcutta

CAT Exam Syllabus 2023

IIM Bangalore does not release the syllabus for the CAT exam 2023. Candidates can check the subjects on which the questions are asked, by referring to the CAT question papers from the previous year.

Section-Wise CAT Syllabus 2023

According to the CAT exam pattern, the applicants must cover the topics listed below. These chapters are all necessary and significant. Examine the CAT exam pattern and CAT syllabus in detail and prepare yourself properly.

CAT Section-Wise Syllabus

CAT Sections

CAT Topics

Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VARC)

  • Verbal Ability
  • English Usage or Grammar
  • Close Passage
  • Synonyms Antonyms
  • Facts-inferences-judgments
  • Jumbled Paragraph
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Verbal Reasoning

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)

  • Caselets
  • Blood Relations
  • Calendars
  • Bar Graphs
  • Column Graphs
  • Tables
  • Cubes
  • Clocks
  • Binary Logic
  • Line Charts
  • Combination of two or more types linked to each other
  • Syllogism
  • Venn Diagrams
  • Pie Chart
  • Number and Letter Series
  • Seating Arrangement

Quantitative Aptitude (QA)

  • Algebra
  • Higher Maths
  • Geometry
  • Trigonometry
  • Mensuration
  • Arithmetic

CAT Mock Test 2023

The official CAT mock test 2023 will be available to all candidates who plan to appear in the CAT. The conducting will reportedly release CAT 2023 mock test in the third week of Oct 2023. It will make it easier to answer the questions within the allotted time during the main CAT exam and to do it without feeling intimidated. The aspirants can learn how to transition between portions by taking the mock test. Students must familiarize themselves with the CAT exam pattern 2023 and sample papers before taking the CAT 2023 mock test.

How to Move Between Sections When Responding to CAT 2023?

While responding to the questions in the CAT exam 2023, candidates should adhere to the directions displayed on the computer screen. The following are significant considerations that candidates should bear in mind when they respond to the questions following the IIM CAT exam pattern 2023:

The timer clock in the upper right corner will begin to beat as soon as the candidate checks in and begins answering questions. The section will be shut, and candidates won't be able to respond to any more questions after 40 minutes.

How to Answer Questions in CAT 2023?

The candidates should be familiar with answering questions before beginning the CAT exam. When responding to questions, candidates should choose from the following options:

  • Candidates should choose the response, save it, and then go on to the following question.
  • Clear Answer: Candidates can choose to remove their response to a question.
  • Mark for Review and Next: If a candidate is unsure about the response, they may mark it as a review, then give their explanation before moving on to the next question.

Note: Use the provided mouse when responding to questions. The computer screen will be locked if the system keyboard is used.

What Does Each Colour on the Panel Represent?

Refer to the information below to know what each colour on the panel represents.

How to Prepare for CAT without Coaching? Advantages of CAT Exam

CAT Exam Pattern vs Other MBA Entrance Exams – A Comparison

See below the key distinctions between the CAT paper pattern and those of other MBA admission tests, like the XAT, CMAT, MAT, IIFT, GMAT, NMAT, and SNAP. This will aid in your analysis of the CAT exam's level of difficulty:

CAT Exam Pattern Vs Other MBA Exams

Exam Name

Time Duration

No. of Questions

Sections

Total Marks

CAT

120 minutes

66

Three

198

XAT

190 minutes

100

Five

100

CMAT

180 minutes

100

Five

400

MAT

150 minutes

200

Five

200

IIFT

120 minutes

110

Four

300

GMAT

187 minutes

70

Four

200-800

NMAT

120 minutes

108

Three

36-360

SNAP

60 minutes

60

Three

60

CAT Exam Analysis of Previous Years

CAT 2021 exam's difficulty level ranged from moderate to challenging. However, the VARC portion was difficult in the three-time slots. The DILR and QA sections were simpler than the VARC component. Compared to slots 1 and 2, the third slot's QA section was a little more difficult. See the breakdown of the CAT 2021 exam questions below:

CAT 2021 Analysis

CAT 2021 Sections

Number of Questions

Type

Difficulty Level

VARC

24

16 RC questions, 8 VA questions

Difficult

DILR

20

Two DI sets ( 4 and 6 questions)

Two LR set ( 4 and 6 questions)

Moderate to Difficult

QA

22

Dominated by Arithmetic (11 questions) and Algebra (5 questions)

Moderate

CAT 2020 the general level of difficulty of the CAT paper was moderate. However, the VARC portion was challenging for each of the three shifts. In comparison to VARC, the DILR and QA parts were simpler.

CAT 2020 Analysis

CAT 2020 Sections

Number of MCQs

Number of Non-MCQs

VARC

27

7

DILR

24

8

QA

23

11

Since the CAT exam was computerized in 2009, it has undergone noticeable changes over the previous 12 years. Before 2009, the CAT paper pattern relied on paper and pens. In 2009, the CAT exam format was modified from a paper-based exam to a computer-based test. Even after that, the CAT exam's paper structure kept shifting from three sections to two before returning to three sections in 2015. Since then, CAT has maintained a consistent trend. The CAT exam pattern over time, with variations in test length, sectional make-up, and overall question count, is as follows.

CAT 2023 Exam Key Trends

CAT Year

CAT Total No of Questions

CAT VARC 

CAT DILR

CAT Quant

Difficulty level

QA Break up

CAT 2021

66

VARC-24; 

RC-19 MCQs; Verbal 5 Non-MCQs

DILR-20; 

DI-10; LR-10

QA total 

Qs-22 14 

Non-MCQs 8 

Non-MCQs

Moderate to Difficult

On Last Year pattern; VARC expected bit more difficult

DILR - Difficult

QA - Moderate

CAT 2020

76

VARC-26. 

RC-18, (All MCQs), Verbal-8 (non MCQs)

DILR-24, 

DI-14, LR-10, MCQs-18, Non-MCQs-6

QA-Total 26

MCQs 18

Non-MCQs 8

Moderate to Difficult

CAT 2020 was based on last year's question pattern. The difficulty level went up in each slot from slot-1 to slot-3

CAT 2019

100

VARC-34. 

RC-24, (All MCQs), Verbal-10 (non MCQs)

DILR-32, 

DI-16, LR-16, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8

QA-Total 34. 

MCQs 23 

Non-MCQs 11

Moderate to Difficult

CAT 2019 pattern with changes in the number of MCQs & non-MCQs as given section wise

CAT 2018

100

VARC-34. 

RC-24, (All MCQs), Verbal-10 (2 MCQs, 7 non MCQs)

DILR-32, 

DI-16, LR-16, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8

Total 34 

MCQs 22

Non-MCQs 12

Moderate to Difficult

CAT paper pattern in the lines of last year with changes in the number of MCQs & non-MCQs in each section

CAT 2017

100

VARC-34. 

RC-24, (All MCQs), Verbal-10 (3 MCQs, 7 non MCQs)

DILR-32, 

DI-16, LR-16, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8

Total-34. MCQs 23 

Non-MCQs-11

Moderate

CAT exam pattern in the lines of last year with changes in non-MCQs in each section

CAT 2016

100

VARC-34, RC-24, (All MCQs), Verbal-10 (All non MCQs)

DILR-32, DI-16, LR-16, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8

Quant 34

MCQ 27

Non-MCQs 7

Moderate to difficult

CAT exam pattern on the same lines as of CAT exam pattern 2015 Non-MCQs in Quant reduced.

CAT 2015

100

VARC -34, RC-24 (MCQs), Verbal-10 (Non MCQs)

DILR-32, DI-16, LR-16, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8

Quant 34

MCQs 24

Non-MCQs 10

Moderate to difficult

Time limit increased to 180 minutes

Sectional time concentration of 1 hour re-introduced

Non-MCQs without negative marking penalty for the wrong answer

No questions on error correction and vocabulary.

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