Elaborate CAT Exam Pattern 2023 (Updated)!


CAT Exam is one exam where the results are released in terms of percentile. The CAT scores are calculated in relation to the other competitors. Therefore, there is a need to be better than the rest of the students. To be cut above the rest, the candidates need to be careful of things like showing perseverance and dedication towards their preparations, knowing every exam detail well and much more. To help you rise above the rest, you shall be well aware of the CAT exam pattern and syllabus. Only when you are well informed of the exam trends you will be able to provide direction to your preparations. Through this article, we shall provide you with all the necessary details about the CAT exam pattern and syllabus you shall know as a CAT aspirant.

CAT Exam

CAT is one popular PGDM/MBA entry-level exam. The exam is conducted on a national level, and thousands of aspirants across the nation appear for the exam. Due to the increasing number of candidates who appear for the CAT, the competition is getting tough each year. 


CAT Exam Pattern: Overview

The CAT exam pattern provides all the essential details about the exam. It is important to know the CAT eczema pattern to understand the exam trends so that the candidates can prepare accordingly. Knowing the exam pattern well is one of the ways you can maximize your CAT score and gain a good CAT percentile. Here is an overview of the CAT exam pattern. 


S.No. Particulars Details
Exam Window Three Sessions
Sections Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Quantitative Ability (QA) and Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR).
Exam Duration 120 Minutes (2 Hours)
Mode  Computer-based Test (CBT)
Total Question Count 66 Questions
Question Type MCQs & Non-MCQs
Time Limit per Section 40 Minutes
Marking Scheme -1 for each wrong answer

+3 for every correct answer


CAT Exam Pattern: Type of Questions

The CAT exam pattern was last updated in 2015. The update included the addition of type-in-the-answer (TITA) type questions that were also included in the CAT exam. Since then, the CAT exam has consisted of two kinds of questions. First is the MCQ type or the Multiple choice-based questions, wherein four options are provided, and the candidate shall choose the correct response for them. The second type, TITA, requires the students to type in their answers to the questions asked. Therefore, the candidates must prepare for both kinds of questions. 

CAT Exam Pattern: Exam Duration

The CAT exam is a timed test. The candidates are expected to complete the test in the stipulated time. The exam is of 2 hours, i.e. 120 minutes. The exam also includes a component of sectional timings. Each section must be attempted within a time frame. The aspirants do not have the option to switch between the sections. Since it is an online exam, the section closes automatically once the time limit has been reached. The candidates can see the timer on the top of their screen. The sectional time limit for each section is as follows:


S.No. Section Time Limit
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) 40 Minutes
Quantitative Ability (QA) 40 Minutes
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) 40 Minutes
Total Duration 120 Minutes (2 Hours)


CAT Exam Pattern: Marking Scheme

The marking scheme of any exam is decided before the administration of the exam. Similarly, the candidates are informed about the CAT marking scheme well in advance. The official notification releases details about the same. The CAT exam includes a component of negative marking. The practice aims at discouraging the students from guessing the answer to the question they do not know. The candidates shall only mark answers to the questions they are sure of. The CAT marking scheme is as follows:


S.No. Question Marks
Correct Response 3 Marks Awarded
Incorrect Response 1 Mark deducted
Unanswered Questions No marks given


CAT Exam Pattern: Question Count

The CAT exam has a fixed number of questions each year. The question count for the CAT exam is 66 questions. Questions are spread across 3 sections in the exam. The question count per session remains approximately the same. However, topic-wise question count witnesses fluctuations. The tentative CAT 2023 section-wise question count is given below.


S.No. Name of the Section Total Question Count MCQ type Questions TITA type Questions Time Limit
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) 20 Questions 14 Questions 6 Questions 40 Minutes
Quantitative Ability (QA) 22 Questions 14 Questions 8 Questions 40 Minutes
Verbal Ability and reading Comprehension (VARC) 24 Questions 21 Questions 3 Questions 40 Minutes
Total  66 Questions 49 Questions 17 Questions 120 Minutes (2 Hours)


CAT Exam Pattern: Marks Distribution

The marks distribution is not equal across sections. Since the VARC section has more questions, it holds the maximum marks weightage. Similarly, the DILR section has the least weightage in the CAT exam.


S.No. Name of the Section Marks
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) 60 Marks
Quantitative Ability (QA) 66 Marks
Verbal Ability and reading Comprehension (VARC) 72 Marks
Total  198 Marks


CAT Exam Pattern: Important Topics

The official notification of CAT does not disclose the topics one should focus on. However, through in-depth analysis of previous year’s question papers, the experts have successfully identified the issues that appear almost yearly. Therefore, we have a list of essential questions for the CAT exam. The candidate must provide additional attention to these topics. Knowing the essential topics shall help you get a good CAT score. 


Sections Important Topics CAT 2023
Quantitative Ability (QA) Geometry, Mensuration, Number System, Algebra, Modern Math, Arithmetic, Time and Work, Probability
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension Para-jumbles, Long & Short Passages, Para-Summary.
Data Interpretations & Logical Reasoning Team Formation, Seating Arrangement, Bar Graphs, Clocks and Calendars, Venn Diagrams, Blood Relations, Puzzles, Clock and Calenders, Tables and Caselets, Assumptions and Binary Logic.


The anticipated CAT exam pattern has been shared with you. The aspirants shall check the official website for CAT 2023 official notification. The official notification will disclose all the latest details about the CAT 2023 exam.