CAT Syllabus, Get to know in full details

By Debasmita Mohapatra

 IIM Indore will soon announce the CAT 2021 exam date. This year CAT 2020  was held  on 29th Nov 2020 by Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Kozhikode. So before starting your CAT preparation strategy, you should be aware of the syllabus for CAT 2021 so that you can start your preparation as soon as possible.

Since 2015, the syllabus for CAT entrance exam has gone under many changes. Every year, the CAT syllabus and pattern is updated by CAT experts with a little change in pattern and topics.

CAT syllabus sections:

The CAT syllabus has a total of 3 sections that are:

Sections  No. of question Total marks
VARC (Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension) 34 102
DILR (Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning) 32 96
Quantitative Ability 34 102

Some of the sections are again divided into some sub-sections. After the subdivision, there are a total of 5 sections having different syllabus in CAT that are-

1. The VIRC section is divided into verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension.

2. The DILR section is divided into Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

3. The Quantitative Ability section also covers every topic in Mathematics with greater emphasis on Arithmetic.

CAT syllabus for verbal Ability:

The number of question from this section is around 10 and all of that are the non-MCQ type with no penalty for the wrong answer.

1. Essence of short paragraph/Para summary - (3-4 questions);

2. Jumbled Paragraphs (3-4 questions)

3. Out of Context Sentence in Jumbled paragraphs (2-3 questions)

4. Error Correction of Verb, Noun, Pronoun, Adjective, Adverb and other parts of speech in the Sentences.

5. Correcting the sequence of sentences in the paragraph, for example, correct use of the conditional sentence, time clauses, reported speech, passive writing

6. Vocabulary usage – picking the correct pair of words

7. Vocabulary usage in RC passages – finding out the correct synonyms and antonyms

8. Fill in the blanks with correct vocabulary words

9. Completion of the last sentence of Paragraphs

10. Analogies

11. Critical Reasoning

12. Sentence Completion

13. Facts, Inference and Judgement

14. Irrelevant Statements

15. Phrasal Verbs Usage


CAT syllabus for Reading Comprehension:

The number of the question here is 24.  6 questions based on each long passage and 3 questions based on each shorter passage. Sometimes a uniform number of 5 questions follow 4 RC passages and 1 RC Passage is followed by 4 questions. All MCQ type with a penalty of 1/3rd negative marking

1. Current affairs making an impact on Social Life, International Affairs, Govt policies and Schemes for example Triple Talaq, Clean India Mission, Migration of people from one country to other, Growing intolerance across the Globe,

2. Business & Economic RC Passages for example Global economic changes, economic development at the cost of environment, Impact of Demonetization in India, Wasteful expenditure by Governments

3. RC passages from various English Literature books, from articles authored by great philosophers, thinkers, from various speeches of great personalities like passages from Charles Dickens, Aristotle, Martin Luther King, Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi, Churchill among others

4. Passages on Science & Culture including the journey to the Modern world; Fading culture with the advancement of technology

5. Abstract topics and fiction are also included in the Reading Comprehension Syllabus for CAT. 

6. RC Passages on Historical events leading to social changes for example French Revolution, War of Roses, Social changes in Indian History and thoughts shared by  various activists which are very much relevant even today

7. RC Passages from Mythology. These passages try to correlate the Mythological events with the current social structure and answers to the questions on them have to be inferred.


CAT syllabus for Data Interpretation:

There are 16 questions including both MCQs & Non-MCQs. This section includes questions on Data Interpretation and analysis of data based on text, tables, graphs, charts, vein diagram, etc.

1. Data Tables

2. Data charts

3. Bar diagrams & Charts including Simple, Stacked, Composite Bar charts

4. Pie charts

5. Graphs – Line X-Y Graphs

6. Data analysis and Data comparison among others

7. Caselet based Data


CAT syllabus for Logical Reasoning:

Questions from this section can be individual or can be in the set of 4 questions. There will be a total of 16 questions from this section including both MCQs & Non-MCQs.

1. Clocks

2. Calendars

3. Binary logic

4. Seating Arrangement

5. Blood Relations (Family Tree)

6. Logical Sequence

7. Assumption

8. Premise

9. Conclusion

10. Linear and matrix arrangement

11. Team Formation

12. Direction sense and Decision making

13. Input-Output

14. Series

15. Syllogism

16. Cubes

17. Rows

18. Set Theory, Venn Diagrams, Network Diagrams

19. Quantitative Reasoning

20. Puzzles

21. Logical Reasoning based on Rankings

22. Critical Reasoning


CAT syllabus for Quantitative Ability (QA):

34 questions will come from this section including both MCQs & non-MCQs. The number of MCQs is 24-27 and the number of Non-MCQs is 7-9 almost.

1. LCM and HCF

2. Percentages

3. Profit and Loss

4. Interest (Simple and Compound)

5. Speed, Time and Distance; Time and Work; Averages; Ratio and Proportion and others

6. Number System (3-4) questions

7. Algebra (5-7 questions)

8. Geometry/Mensuration (6-8 questions)

9. Pure Math (1-2 questions)

10. Venn diagrams and other topic-based questions are 2-3

11. Linear Equations; Quadratic Equations

12. Complex Numbers

13. Logarithm; Progressions

14. Binomial Theorem

15. Surds and Indices

16. Inequalities

17. Permutation and Combination

18. Probability Functions

19. Set Theory

20. Mixtures and Alligations

21. Coordinate Geometry

22. Trigonometry

There is an individual cut off marks for each section in CAT exam. So you can successfully attempt each section when you are well aware of the CAT syllabus section-wise for all the sections. By covering the CAT syllabus completely, you can obtain a fair idea about the exam pattern & questions and it will help in cracking CAT for MBA admission 2020 in any IIMs and other B-schools.

CAT exam syllabus covers all the major topics on the above 5 sections/sub-sections. There is no repetition of CAT questions in any CAT exam and the difficulty level of the questions in the CAT exam would not go out of the CAT exam syllabus. So students are advised to go through the complete syllabus and then start the preparation for each section for CAT 2021.


Read here,  How to score 100 Percentiles in CAT Exam?

Read also : CAT Quick Preparation Tips for Beginners, Know How to start


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