September 26, 2023


Steps to success

How Difficult is the CAT Exam?

CAT vs IIFT: Is IIFT Exam Tougher Than CAT?

For admission to India’s prestigious B-schools and IIMs, the CAT score is required. The CAT exam is held in the month of November on a yearly basis. Over 2,00,000 candidates register for this exam every year. It is a Computer Based Test (CBT), convened by the IIM’S on a rotational basis. Until 2009, the Common Admission Test was conducted in the paper-pencil mode. Till the year 2019, the exams were conducted in two slots with a time duration of 180 minutes each slot. 

Taking COVID precautions into consideration, the IIM increased the number of slots to three, with a reduction in time duration to two hours. Forty minutes are allotted for each section. The CAT Exam demands a thorough knowledge of the basics and the ability to apply them appropriately. In an attempt to achieve stellar results, aspirants need to thoroughly understand a wide range of topics. 

The CAT Exam consists of three sections:

  • Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension 
  • Quantitative Ability
  • Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension: 

VARC is the first section of the exam. The VARC section comprises MCQ questions and Non-MCQ questions where candidates have to type in the answer. These questions are also known as TITA questions.  A majority of the VARC section focuses on reading comprehension. The other topics include para summary, para jumbles, cloze passage, sentence correction, vocabulary based synonyms and antonyms. 

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning:

The Data Interpretation part requires quick calculations. This section consists of questions from topics like Syllogism, Blood Relations, Caselets, Seating Arrangement, Venn Diagrams, Binary Logic, Bar Graphs, Line Charts, Pie Chart etc.

Quantitative Ability: 

Some of the major topics in QA include Arithmetic, Numbers, Geometry, LCM and HCF, Ratio and proportion, Mensuration, Profit and Loss, Discount, Speed, Time and Distance, Percentages, Set Theory, Simple and Compound Interest, Averages, Sequence, Series and Quadratic Equations. The exam covers diverse topics; a comprehensive understanding of the CAT Syllabus is the first step towards effective preparation. Candidates will be allotted a total of 120 minutes to complete the test. During the exam, they will not be able to switch between sections. There will be a 40-minute sectional time limit for each section. Three points will be awarded for each correct answer. For each incorrect answer, one mark is deducted. TITA  questions do not carry negative marks.

Section-wise Split up of Questions:

SectionExpected No. of QuestionsMCQsNon-MCQsTime Duration
VARC2418640 minutes
QA2216640 minutes
DILR2014640 minutes

Time Required to Complete the Syllabus: 

The ideal preparation time for the exam is between 7-9 months. If you’re behind schedule, a dedicated routine of 4-6 hours every day, for three months will suffice. 

 Some Preparation Tips from the CAT Experts:

  • Take time to examine the section-wise topics repeatedly, until you get a thorough understanding of the syllabus.
  • It will be easier for you to succeed in the reading comprehension section when you read newspapers and a variety of books regularly. 
  • Set up your weekly learning goals and strictly stick on to them. 
  • Mock tests are a great way to learn time management, and it helps you experience an exam setting environment.