CAT Exam Pattern 2023: Paper Pattern, Marking Scheme

Hafsha Qureshi
Hafsha Qureshi

Updated on - Dec 15, 2023

CAT exam pattern 2023 includes three sections - VARC, QA and DIlR. The total duration of CAT exam is 120 minutes. Verbal & reading comprehension (VARC), Quantitative Aptitude (QA), and Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) are the three sections of the CAT paper pattern 2023. A total of 66 questions are asked in the CAT exam. 

IIM Lucknow sets the CAT exam pattern every year. As per the CAT pattern, 40 minutes are given for each section. The overall marks of CAT online exam is 198 marks. Candidates face 66 questions as per the CAT question pattern 2023 in MCQ and subjective format. For each correct answer, candidates are awarded 3 marks, and 1 mark is deducted for each incorrect response in CAT written exam.

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Table of Content

CAT Exam Pattern 2023 Highlights

CAT 2023 slot timings have also been mentioned in the tabular below. Some of the highlights related to the CAT 2023 exam pattern are tabulated below.

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.

CAT 2023 Slot-Timings

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

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CAT 2023 Exam Pattern: Section-Wise

CAT exam pattern 2023 has three sections. For each section candidate gets 40 minutes to complete the section. The section-wise highlights as per the CAT 2023 exam pattern are tabulated below.

Section as per IIM CAT Exam Pattern 2023 Total Questions
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC) 22-26
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) 14-18
Quantitative Aptitude (QA) 22-26
Total 66

CAT Exam Pattern 2023

CAT Quantitative Aptitude Pattern

Per the CAT exam pattern, the Quantitative Aptitude portion will only include 22-26 numerical-based questions from various Mathematical disciplines.

Below is a full description of the topics as per the CAT paper pattern for the Quantitative Aptitude section.

Topics Under QA Topics Under QA
Basic Arithmetic Number System
Algebra Geometry & Mensuration
Modern Maths

AttemptFree CAT Mock Tests 2023

CAT Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension Pattern

This year's CAT 2023 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 as per the CAT exam pattern are as follows:

Topics Under VARC Topics Under VARC
Sentence Correction Questions from the reading comprehension
Completion Summary based on paraphrasing Vocabulary-based questions.

CAT Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation Pattern

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.

The DI section has a number of perplexing data cases, with graphs given for most of the data visualization.

Did You Know?

CAT was originally administered using pen and paper, but in 2009, it was replaced by a computer-based test or CBT. The American firm 'Prometric' built the software for the first CBT.

The contract with Prometric ran from 2009 to 2013, and the software for the exam has been provided by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) since 2014.

CAT Exam Pattern 2023: Expected Slot Wise Highlights

  • 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

The CAT 2023 exam time has been specified by the conducting body. The total CAT exam time duration is 120 minutes or 2 hours. Each segment of the test has a set time limit as per the CAT exam pattern 2023. According to the most recent paper pattern, the CAT exam timing and slot details are listed below.

Sections  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

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Did You Know?

The 180-minute CAT exam from 2015 and 2016 had 100 questions in total, 34 from the QA section, 34 from the VARC section, and 32 from the DILR section. Beginning with CAT 2020, the exam will take two hours, with 40 minutes allocated to each section.

CAT Marking Scheme 2023

CAT marking scheme is part of the exam pattern. Some important points related to the marking scheme of the CAT exam pattern are listed below.

  • A total of 3 marks will be given for each correct response.
  • 1 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.
Is CAT Exam Tough? How to Crack CAT Exam?

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

Marking Criteria MCQ Non-MCQ
Correct Answer 3 3
Incorrect Answer -1 0
Non-attempted Questions 0 0

CAT Paper Pattern 2023: Important Points

As per the CAT Exam Pattern 2023, 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.

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,

Also Read: How to Use Calculator in CAT Exam?

How CAT Exam Pattern Evolved Over the Years?

The CAT exam pattern 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.

IIMs and 
CAT Year
Number of Question Duration
IIM Bangalore
66 2 hours
IIM Ahmedabad
66 2 hours
IIM Indore
76 2 hours
IIM Kozhikode
100 3 hours
IIM Calcutta
100 3 hours
IIM Lucknow
100 3 hours
IIM Bangalore
100 3 hours
IIM Ahmedabad 
100 3 hours
IIM Indore
100 2.50 hours
IIM Indore
60 2:20 hours
IIM Indore
60 2.20 hours
IIM Calcutta
60 2.20 hours

CAT Exam Syllabus 2023

IIM Lucknow 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.

Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VARC): The CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Syllabus consists of topics like verbal Ability, English Usage or grammar, close passage, and more.

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR): The CAT Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning Syllabus include topics like blood relations, calendars, bar graphs, column graphs, tables, cubes, clocks and more.

Quantitative Aptitude (QA): The CAT Quantitative Aptitude Syllabus includes topics that are in the domain of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and more.

CAT Mock Test 2023

The official CAT mock test was released by the conducting body on Nov 13, 2023, on the official website. The mock test will also have three sections namely VARC, QA and DILR.

  • 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 mock test.
  • The mock test for CAT 2023 will replicate the entire exam down to its finest details thus providing the candidates to test their preparation level.

Candidates can practice the CAT Previous Year Question Paper given in the below table.

Practice Previous Papers Now
CAT 2021 Question Paper with Solution CAT 2020 Question Paper with Solution
CAT 2019 Question Paper with Solution CAT 2018 Question Paper with Solution
CAT 2017 Question Paper with Solutions

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

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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, and 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.

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CAT Exam Pattern Vs Other MBA Entrance Exams

 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:

Exam Name No. of Questions Total Marks
CAT 66 198
XAT 100 100
CMAT 100 400
MAT 200 200
IIFT 110 300
GMAT 70 200-800
NMAT 108 36-360
SNAP 60 60


What is the CAT exam pattern 2023?

As per the CAT exam pattern for 2023, candidates will face 66 questions in MCQ and subjective nature in three different sections. The three sections are Verbal & Reading Comprehension (VARC), Quantitative Aptitude (QA), and Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR). Each section will be of 40 minutes, and for every correct answer, applicants will be rewarded with 3 marks.

What is CAT total mark?

CAT total score will be 198 marks.

What are the CAT minimum marks?

The minimum marks to pass CAT 2023 have not been announced yet. IIM Lucknow will be providing the information about the same. CAT 2023 will also have sectional cut offs.

Is there any sectional time limit in CAT 2023?

As per the CAT exam pattern for 2023, candidates will have to complete each section in or under 40 minutes. Total CAT time is 120 minutes.

What are the subjects in CAT exam 2023?

Verbal & reading comprehension (VARC), quantitative aptitude (QA), and data interpretation and logical reasoning (DILR) are the three subjects as per CAT exam pattern 2023.

How many sections are there in CAT 2023?

According to CAT exam pattern 2023, there are three sections - Quantitative Ability (QA), Logicial Reasoning & Data Interpretation (LRDI), and Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC).

How many questions are on the CAT 2023 exam?

The total questions in CAT exam are 66. The paper will have both MCQ and SAQ (also called TITA). Most of the questions will be MCQ-based.

Does CAT exam have negative marking?

According to the official CAT Exam Pattern, +3 marks will be awarded for each right answer for both MCQs and Non-MCQs. However, negative marking is only available for MCQ questions, with a -1 mark lost for each incorrect response. There is no negative marking for TITA or questions that are not attempted.



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