CAT Exam 2021 – Eligibility, Pattern, Fees, Dates

Important Details and Information about CAT Exam 2021

What is CAT Exam for?

CAT exam (full form is Common Admission Test) is the most important MBA Entrance Exam in India. Approximately 2 Lakh CAT aspirants attempt the CAT exam every year to secure an admission into top Business Schools in the country like the IIMs. Other than the IIMs, Management Schools at various IITs, FMS, NITIE, MDI, SP Jain, etc. also accept CAT scores. It is a computer based test in which an on-screen calculator is provided to students.
CAT 2021 will be held on last week of November 2021.

Top 10 things to know about the CAT Exam

  1. CAT Exam Eligibility
  2. CAT Exam Pattern
  3. CAT Exam Fees
  4. CAT Exam Dates
  5. CAT Exam Syllabus
  6. CAT Results
  7. Scoring and percentiles in CAT Exam
  8. Books for CAT Exam Preparation
  9. Reading List for MBA aspirants
  10. CAT Preparation Tips for Beginners

CAT Exam Eligibility – Criteria for CAT 2021

CAT Exam eligibility criteria for graduates / working professionals

To appear for the CAT exam, a candidate should have at least 50% marks or equivalent GPA in graduation.
SC/ST/PWD candidates should have at least 45% marks.
You can also apply if you have completed a professional degree (CA / CS / ICWA) with 50% marks or equivalent

CAT Exam eligibility criteria students in final year

Final year students are also eligible to apply for CAT Exam.
If you are going to finish your graduation studies in 2022 – you can apply for CAT 2021.

CAT Exam Pattern – Number of Sections, Questions and Timing Details

CAT Exam Pattern – Sections

CAT Exam is divided into three sections.

  1. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
  2. Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation
  3. Quantitative Aptitude

The sections are locked meaning you cannot jump from one section to other. Only after the allocated time is over for a particular section, you can go to the next section. Under no circumstances, you can go to a previous section.

CAT Exam Pattern – Questions

There are a total of 100 questions.

  1. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension – 34 Questions
  2. Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation – 32 Questions
  3. Quantitative Aptitude – 34 Questions

CAT Exam Pattern – Timing Details

  • CAT Exam is conducted over a period of 3 hours
  • A student is allowed a total of 1 hour per section.
  • If the student does not submit in the stipulated 1 hour, the answers get submitted automatically.
  • If the student submits it before the stipulated 1 hour, he / she is not allowed to move to the next section or leave the examination hall.

CAT Exam Fees

Registration Fees for CAT Exam

Rs. 2000 for General Category and Other Backward Classes.
Rs. 1000 for SC/ST/PWD candidates.
The fees is non-refundable.

Application Fees for IIMs and other Business Schools

No extra fees is required to apply to the Indian Institute of Management (IIMs)
No other process is required to apply to IIMs either.
You will need to apply to other Business Schools separately.

CAT Exam Dates

CAT Exam 2021 will be held on last week of November 2021

  • Registration Opens – First week of August 2021
  • Registration Closes – Second week of September 2021
  • Admit Card Download – Last week of October 2021

CAT Exam Syllabus

As you know, CAT exam syllabus is divided into three sections

  1. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
  2. Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation
  3. Quantitative Aptitude

The syllabus for these sections is not defined officially. However, based on previous year papers we have analyzed and figured out the areas on which questions are asked. You can find the complete syllabus for CAT exam by clicking on the link.

In the VA-RC section, most of the questions are based on Reading Comprehension whereas questions on other topics like Parajumbles (Jumbled Paragraphs), Sentence Exclusion, and Summary are also asked. Questions on Word Usage, Sentence Correction, and Fact Inference Judgement have been asked in the past as well.

There is no well defined syllabus for the LRDI section, however there are some topics and type of questions that have been repeatedly asked in the exam over the years. We have compiled a list of them. Also, we have added a few more topics on which questions have been asked in the past or they are important for other MBA entrance exams like SNAP, NMAT, XAT.

Quantitative Aptitude is the part of the syllabus that you need to pay most attention to. There are areas like Number System (or Remainders specifically) on which not many questions are asked. On the other hand, you get a lot of questions on topics like Algebra and Geometry.

CAT Exam Results

We have been running the online CAT course since we started in 2013 and over the years there have been plenty of success stories and there have been a few disappointments as well. We do not gather the results of our students because frankly speaking – it is not possible for us to do the same in an online environment. We rely on students voluntarily sending their scorecards once the results are declared.

Scoring and Percentiles in CAT Exam

To understand the scoring in CAT exam, you need to understand three basic concepts

  • Raw Score
  • Scaled Score
  • Percentile

Raw score is calculated based upon the questions that a CAT aspirant answers correctly or incorrectly. For every question, irrespective of type, that a CAT aspirant answers correctly, he would get +3 marks
For every objective type question that a CAT aspirant answers incorrectly, he would get -1 marks
For every non-objective / Fill in the Blank / Type in the Answer (TITA) that a CAT aspirant answers incorrectly, he would get 0 marks.
Based upon the above a score would be calculated for each section and for the overall CAT exam. This would be the candidate’s raw score.

CAT is typically conducted across two slots. All questions in the two slots are not same. There would be some common questions. This would mean that the difficulty level of the two slots, although close to each other – would be slightly different. Roughly an equal number of CAT aspirants would attempt the paper in each slot so if one of the slots is marginally tougher than the other, it would be unfair to roughly 50% of the aspirants. To take care of this issue, raw scores are converted into scaled scores.

Percentiles in the CAT exam are a representation of how many people are behind you in that test.
Suppose you get the 3rd rank in an exam that was taken by 50 people, then 47 people scored less than you. Your percentile would be 47/50 * 100 = 94 Percentile.
Suppose you got 98 %ile in CAT which was attempted by 2.2 Lakh people. This would mean that 98% of the CAT takers were behind you or 2% of the CAT takers were ahead of you. Your rank would be 2% of 2.2 Lakh = 4400.

Best Books to Prepare for CAT Exam

There are three main publishers for books related to CAT Exam

  • Tata McGraw Hill
  • Pearson
  • Arithant

Given below is a brief review of various books that help CAT aspirants prepare for the exam by our faculty members. You can also check out detail reviews of recommended books for CAT Preparation.

CAT Prep Books by TMH

Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay are probably the most popular authors when it comes to books that help you prepare for the CAT. These books have been around for close to two decades and are really good. The one problem that exists in my personal opinion is that some of the questions tend to be too tough. You can ignore the Level of Difficulty III that is given in these books.

CAT Prep Books by Pearson

Nishit Sinha is another quite popular author in the CAT preparation space. Personally, I like the books by Nishit the best. The main reason being that it covers a large number of solved examples, which I believe is helpful for students. Once again, you can ignore the “Advanced” level exercises in these books. Those are too tough and not of much use for CAT.

CAT Prep Books by Arihant

Quantum CAT is probably the most popular book from Arihant publications in the CAT preparation space. And it is quite deserving of that spot. It covers nearly all concepts in great amount of detail. The only flaw is that it is a bit too voluminuous that makes it hard to finish if you are short of time. For example, if you are starting your prep 5-6 months before the exam and are a working candidate, you might find it hard to go through this. Another good book from Arihant publications is Face to Face. It covers previous year CAT papers. A lot of it is guess work because the papers are not available in public domain but it does help students prepare in a realistic way for the CAT exam.

Reading List for MBA aspirants

If you are planning to prepare for an MBA, a reading habit can take you a long way. If you develop a reading habit it will help you score more in the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension section of CAT but it will also help you perform better in the ‘Written Ability Test’, ‘Group Discussion’, and ‘Personal Interview’ stage of selection process.
However, not all CAT aspirants fall in the category of voracious readers. Given below is a list of recommended novels and books for MBA aspirants. This list could be a starting point if you do not know what to read.

Books dealing with Indian issues

  • The Great Indian Novel
  • India after Gandhi
  • Midnight’s Children
  • Argumentative Indian
  • The Last Mughal

Books dealing with economics / management

  • The Selfish Gene
  • Guns, Germs, and Steel
  • The World is Flat
  • Freakonomics
  • Tipping Point
  • The Black Swan
  • Thinking Fast & Slow

Business Biographies

  • Losing My Virginity
  • Straight from the Gut
  • Steve Jobs (Walter Issacson)
  • Iacocca
  • Business Maharajas
  • Banker to the Poor

CAT Prep Tips for Beginners

We have compiled a list of some basic CAT preparation Tips for people who have just started thinking about the CAT exam. The details about these can be found in two blogposts.

  1. CAT Prep Tips – Part 1
  2. CAT Prep Tips – Part 2

A short summary of the CAT Prep Tips is given here:

  1. Focus on your graduation
  2. Remember dates and timelines
  3. All IIMs are not the same
  4. Look beyond the IIMs
  5. Look beyond the CAT exam
  6. Understand the costs involved
  7. CAT Score is not everything
  8. Coaching is not necessary (but it helps)
  9. There is no best book / best material
  10. Do not take advice from 99%ilers
  11. Forget about mock tests
  12. Dedicate time to CAT prep
  13. Stay away from Social Media

Frequently Asked Questions for CAT Exam

Who is eligible for the CAT exam?
What are the subjects in the CAT exam?
What type of questions are asked in the CAT exam?
Is there negative marking in the CAT exam?
When should we write the CAT exam?
Is CAT exam difficult / very tough?
What is the purpose / use of the CAT exam?
How many students appear in the CAT exam?
What does percentile mean in the CAT exam?
How many times can we take the CAT exam?
Is there any age restriction in the CAT exam?
When should I start preparing for the CAT exam?
Is Calculator allowed in the CAT exam?
What are the important dates for the CAT exam?

CAT Exam Eligibility Date Pattern Fees