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CAT exam pattern and test structure will be announced in July along with the CAT 2021 notification. Candidates planning to appear for CAT exam this year, must familiarise themselves with the latest CAT exam pattern available. It will help them understand the structure of question paper and marking scheme.
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The CAT exam pattern is prescribed by the IIMs. The test structure is based on similar entrance exams, having multiple-choice questions (MCQs) to be solved within a particular time duration. CAT exam is of 180 minutes with 100 questions, but in CAT 2020, both exam duration and number of questions were reduced. Apart from that, no other change was made in the CAT exam pattern.
CAT Exam Pattern Highlights
The CAT question paper is divided into three sections; each having a sectional time limit.
- Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)
- Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)
- Quantitative Aptitude (QA)
In 2020, the total number of questions was 76 and these are in both MCQ and non-MCQ format
The time allotted was 120 minutes (2 hours) to answer these questions
There is a time limit of 40 minutes for each section
The exam is conducted in online mode at various test centers
The CAT 2021 exam pattern can be reverted back to 100 questions-180 minutes format.
The exam authorities will release CAT tutorial in October for the candidates to know the pattern of CAT 2021 exam
More details of CAT exam pattern and marking scheme are summarized below.
CAT 2021 — Overall and Sectional Time Limit
CAT exam has sectional time limit, which means the candidates will not be allowed to choose any section to start with or switch from one section to another. They will have to follow the CAT question paper chronologically, from section one to three. The chronology of the sections will be:
- Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
- Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning
- Quantitative Aptitude
Aspirants must remember that they will have to complete each section within one hour and the moment one hour is complete, the screen will automatically move to the next section. No changes or corrections will be allowed at a later stage.
The number of questions asked in each section of CAT exam and time allotted to each is summarized in the table below.
CAT Marking Scheme
It is important to know the CAT marking scheme before attempting the exam so that you can select which questions to answer and which ones to skip.
- Total marks of CAT 2021 paper will either be 300 or 228 (depending on which test pattern IIM follows this time)
- Each question will carry 3 marks
- There will be negative marking of -1 each for a wrong answer
- There will be no deduction of marks in case a candidate chooses not to attempt a given question
- Some questions in each section may not be of multiple choice type, thus the answers will have to be typed on the screen
The following table summarizes the marking scheme for CAT 2021:
Important Points About CAT Test Process
- Use of onscreen calculator will be allowed for computation during the exam
- An onscreen clock will help candidates keep a check on time during the exam
- Sheets of paper will be provided for rough work, which has to be submitted at the exam centre as soon as the exam gets over
- The candidates will not be allowed to start the test before time. The computer screen will open only after the invigilator’s announcement
- All the computer screens in the exam hall will switch on at the same time
- Candidates must sit in their designated area, if found sitting anywhere else, he/she will be debarred from the exam