CAT Exam 2020: Exam Pattern, Syllabus, and Marking Scheme

Common Aptitude Test is one of the biggest exams in India. It is conducted by IIMs on a rotational policy once a year. The CAT Exam 2019 was conducted by IIM Kozhikode, and as of CAT 2020, it will be administered by IIM Indore.

CAT exam serves as a gateway to students seeking admissions into top managerial institutes including 20 IIMs and over 100 management school across India. The exam is computer-based and includes questions from MCQs, fill in the blanks, to more than one-word answers.

In order to be eligible for this exam, one should hold a bachelor’s degree with a minimum of 50 per cent of aggregate marks or equivalent GPA from any recognized university in India.

The registration generally takes place in the month of July, and by the month of November, exams are conducted, and results are out by early January. But due to COVID-19 crisis, the registrations have been scheduled to begin from the first week of August 2020. 

Important updates regarding CAT Exam Pattern 2020

The entrance test is one of the toughest exams in India, and still, it welcomes more than 2 lakh CAT aspirants every year who apply for the exam making the competition level higher than ever. Top scorers in the exam get into best IIMS and business schools in India.

The exam may be considered to be really tough, but it is certainly not impossible. It is important for the aspirants to realize that if you have the right strategies, nothing can stop you from landing with the best scores.

The first strategy that you should start with is by reading and analyzing the exam pattern and syllabus. We have highlighted the general CAT syllabus for 2020 below – 

Reading and Comprehension Grammar Questions Vocabulary Check English Usage
Unseen Passage, Summary Questions Fill in the Blanks with correct grammar  Analogies or reverse analogies, Meaning- Usage Match,

Word Usage, synonyms, antonyms

Solving para jumble, para completion, sentence correction, verbal reasoning, and facts-inferences- judgements.
Verbal Reasoning Logical Reasoning Data Interpretation
Questions related to analogies, critical reasoning, cause and effect, seating arrangement, logical matching, and logical deduction. Questions related to puzzles, game-based theories, binary logic, data arrangement, team formations, syllogism, blood relations, logical connectives, assumptions, and statement-interferences-judgements. Questions related to different types of graphs, pie charts, line charts, calendars, caselets, Venn diagrams, cubes, data sufficiency, and tables.
Arithmetic Algebra Number System Geometry and Mensuration Modern Mathematics
Topics like averages, simplifications, interest, profit and loss, LCM and HCF, time and work, speed, distance and time, ratio and proportion, and percentages are included. Questions are based on quadratic equations, linear equations, functions, inequalities, and logarithms. Questions are based on number systems, complex numbers, series and progressions, and sequence. Questions on geometry, mensuration, and coordinate geometry are included. Probabilities, set theory, maxima and minima, mixtures and alligations, permutations and combinations, and trigonometry are some topics.

After you have gone through the syllabus, you need to understand the exam pattern for CAT entrance examination. Generally, the exam paper is divided into three sections – 

Section Type of section Number of questions Time allotted
Section One This section deals with verbal ability, reading and comprehension skills.  There are a total of 34 questions from this section. 60 Minutes
Section Two This section includes questions related to data interpretation and logical reasoning questions. There are a total of 32 questions from this section. 60 Minutes
Section Three This section includes questions related to quantitative ability.  There are a total of 34 questions from this section. 60 Minutes
Total: 100 Questions Total: 180 Minutes/ 3 Hours (Follows one-hour sectional time for each section)

So, as you can see, the full paper is divided into three sections, and the total number of questions is 100. Total time of the paper is 3 hours which would mean that you have to allot one hour to each section.

There are negative markings for wrong answers and zero deduction for un-attempted questions. The first section has 34 questions, the second section has 32 questions, and section three has 34 questions. 

Questions are of two types- MCQs and non-MCQs. The MCQs have negative marking, which means that for every wrong answer, one marks will be deducted. In the non-MCQ type questions, there is no negative marking and students are supposed to type their answers in the boxes that have been provided.

Scores awarded for each correct answer, irrespective of MCQ and Non-MCQ type questions: three marks. The time given for each section is 60 minutes which means that you will not be able to move to another section in this time. 

CAT 2020 Marks Distribution

Section Number of questions Questions with negative marking Questions without negative marking Maximum marks allotted to each section
Section One: Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC) There are a total of 34 questions from this section. 24 to 27 Multiple Choice Based Questions Around 10 Non-MCQ Questions 102 Marks
Section Two: Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) There are a total of 32 questions from this section. 24 Multiple Choice Based Questions Around 8 Non-MCQ Questions 96 Marks
Section Three: Quantitative Ability (QA) There are a total of 34 questions from this section. 23 to 27 Multiple Choice Based Questions Around 7 to 11 Non-MCQ Questions 102 Marks
Total Questions: 100 Total Marks: 300

Once you understand the division of sections, distribution of marks and allotment of marks, you will be able to plan out your studies in a more organized way. You must divide your preparation time according to each section and practice accordingly.

This will be impossible if you are bad at time management. Therefore, all you need to do next is to step up your time game by practicing as many questions in the least amount of time. 

In order to get a better hang of the exam pattern, IIMs conducting CAT exams release tutorials and mock tests which can help aspirants in getting a stronger grasp of the exam pattern.

You can take mock tests and tutorials and understand how marks are distributed, questions are patterned and how are your time management and over-all preparation going. 

Stay connected with fellow students on PaGaLGuY for CAT Exam 2020 Discussion

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1 comment
  1. @Singh_Rahul
    useful information...
    July 2020