CAT Exam Pattern 2019: Check Marking Scheme, Sections, No. of questions, Exam Duration

IIM Kozhikode has released latest CAT exam pattern 2019 in which you will find Marking Scheme, Sections, No. and type of questions expected, Exam Duration and other important details. Read on to find out how to attempt the CAT 2019 exam to make it to the IIM.

Sep 18, 2019 12:24 IST
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CAT Exam Pattern
CAT Exam Pattern

The countdown for the CAT Exam has begun. All the major dates related to CAT Exam events have been announced by the CAT organising body i.e. IIM Kozhikode. The CAT exam is scheduled to take place on November 24 and this implies that you have less than 4 months in your hand to prove your mettle in the exam. Considering the time constraint, exam pattern is the key using which you can unlock the difficulty level of the exam. And the first step to unlock it begins with the understanding of CAT exam pattern and accordingly preparing a strategy to crack the exam. CAT exam pattern serves as a parameter on the basis of which your performance will be judged.

Like the previous years, CAT 2019 will also carry three sections namely Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DI & LR) and Quantitative Ability (QA) to test the aptitude of the candidates. To make aspirants familiar with the exam pattern, IIM have released a set of FAQs which will answer all your queries.

The official website i.e. also specifies that in order to understand the exam pattern, candidates should also appear for the CAT mock test which is generally released in the month of October. Last year when the CAT 2018 mock test was released, candidates mentioned that the mock test was comparatively much easier than the actual exam. However, a proper analysis of CAT Mock test is a must before appearing for the exam on the D-day.

So before you start preparing for the CAT entrance exam, read the changes introduced in the CAT Exam pattern here:

CAT 2019 Exam Pattern

CAT is a computer-based MBA entrance exam which is conducted in two sessions (i.e. morning and afternoon session) at various test centers across India. The duration of the CAT Exam is 3 hours (180 minutes). CAT exam takers are required to solve MCQ (objective) and non-MCQ (descriptive) questions. Questions will be asked from three sections as mentioned previously.  

CAT Exam Pattern 2019: Snapshot

Take a look at the important exam highlights that will help you understand the exam pattern in one go:


CAT Exam Pattern



No. of sections

3 (Verbal & Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning, and Quantitative Ability)


Mode of exam

Computer Based Exam (Online)


Time Allotted

180 minutes overall (Follows Sectional Time Limit - 60 minutes for each section)


No. of questions



Number of answer choices



Total marks



Marks per question

+3 per question


Negative Marking

-1 mark for incorrect answer

No marks deducted for un-attempted questions

CAT Exam Pattern - Time limit

CAT Exam allows candidates to solve the exam in 180 minutes. However, there is a catch. Candidates are restricted by the sectional time limit to solve the question paper. This means that if a candidate cannot choose to solve the VARC, DILR or QA section. Whichever section comes first he/she will get time of 60 minutes to solve that particular section first. Only after solving this section, he/she can move to solve other two sections.

The sectional time limit clause restricts the candidates to switch between 2 sections. In the CAT exam, generally Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension is the first section to solve, followed by Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning and at last comes Quantitative Aptitude. Aspirants therefore will get 60 minutes i.e. one hour's time to attempt each section. After the time is up, you will automatically move solve the questions of next section.

Also Read: About CAT Exam Registration – Click Here

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Also Read: About CAT Previous Year Mock Tests – Click Here

Changes in CAT 2019 Exam Pattern

The details pertaining to number of questions to be asked in the exam have not been shared by the CAT convener. However, taking cue from the last year's exam pattern, aspirants can take a look at the no. of questions expected in CAT 2019. Questions have been bifurcated on the basis of the MCQ and non-MCQ that are asked in each section. Take a look at the bifurcation in the table below:


Total No of Questions

No of MCQs

No of Non-MCQs

















CAT Non-MCQs / TITA questions reduced

One of the biggest changes as far as CAT 2019 exam format or pattern is concerned is the drastic reduction in the number of non-MCQs or TITA questions. The non-MCQs are the descriptive type questions that do not carry negative marking for a wrong answer. However, if we see the general trend, the number of non-MCQs has been increased in CAT 2018. Take a look at the table below:

Exam Year





Total Non-MCQs





Non-MCQs from VARC





Non-MCQs from DILR





Non-MCQs from Quant





As shown in the above table, the overall number of non-MCQs has reduced consistently over the years; however, the trend seems to take a turn in CAT 2018 when again 27 non-MCQs were seen in the exam. In the year 2016 and 2017, if we take a look at the section-wise composition of non-MCQs, a drastic reduction in Quant and DILR can be seen with at least 50% reduction in the number of non-MCQs as compared to 2015.

CAT 2019 Prep: How CAT mock tests can help you get into IIMs?

New Answer Options in MCQs

Another alarming change that was seen in CAT 2018 mock test was that the number of options available to solve the MCQ type questions was increased. While aspirants only had to deal with answer-specific options in CAT Exam, last year the CAT mock test had MCQs that have non-answer specific options as well. These included options such as ‘Not applicable’, ‘Not determinable’ and ‘None of these’. Such options often put CAT candidates in a fix by not giving any specific answer option for the multiple-choice questions. Apart from this, many question in the CAT 2017 mock test contained 5 answer options as opposed to the standard 4 option format.

CAT 2019 Different Scoring Pattern

As per the current scoring pattern, candidates will be awarded 3 marks for each correct question whether it is an MCQ or a non-MCQ. Negative marking mentions that 1 mark will be deducted for each incorrect answer. No marks will be given or deducted for un-attempted questions in the exam.

Different Login for the Exam Day

From 2018 onwards, the exam conducting body decided to assign a new login id and password by the invigilator. Until 2017, candidates could login to their exam systems directly using their CAT 2017 registration ID and password. But this practice has been done away with from 2017.

In case there are any changes in the CAT 2019 exam pattern, it will be updated here. Also the changes in the CAT mock test will also be updated here.

You can receive all the latest updates about MBA Test prep and CAT 2019 exam on the website

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