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CAT MBA Entrance Exam – All you need to know

May 11, 2018 12:39 IST

    Think of MBA in India and the first thing that strikes your mind is the CAT MBA entrance exam. Popularly known as the ‘mother of all MBA entrance exams’, the CAT MBA entrance exam is the gateway to enter the top MBA colleges in India. So, let’s find out all about this exam and different aspects related to it.

    What is the CAT MBA Exam?

    CAT stands for Common Admission Test. It is the most popular All India level management entrance exam which is conducted by the consortium of premier B-schools of India, i.e., IIMs. Every year, more than 2 lakh MBA aspirants take up the CAT MBA exam, vying for around 1500 MBA seats at 20 IIMs and around 3000 MBA seats in other B-schools across India.

    Which B-schools accept CAT MBA Entrance Exam Score?

    The CAT MBA entrance exam is a computer-based management entrance exam. The CAT score or CAT percentile of the candidate is used by top MBA Colleges of India including the premier B-schools such as IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Lucknow, FMS Delhi, SPJIMR Mumbai, JBIMS Mumbai, and MDI Gurgaon.

    Who can appear for the CAT MBA Entrance Exam?

    The CAT MBA exam is a post-graduate level exam. Therefore, MBA aspirants holding a valid Bachelor’s Degree with minimum 50% marks or equivalent CGPA can apply for it. For SC / ST and PWD category candidates, the eligibility is modified to 45% marks or equivalent CGPA in graduation. There is no age-limit for applicants.

    CAT MBA Exam Syllabus

    Being an MBA entrance exam, the CAT syllabus is divided into three key sections, i.e., Quantitative Ability, Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation and lastly Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension.

    • Quantitative Ability: This is the number crunching section which is dominated by questions on arithmetic, algebra, geometry, business mathematics and other similar topics. The questions are primarily focused on the application of mathematics in real-world situations.
    • Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning: Questions in the DILR section are based on data sets which are to be analysed by the candidates to answer the questions. Data is provided in different formats such as graphs, charts, tables and paragraphs. While the Data Interpretation section is aimed at testing the analytical skills of a candidate, the LR section is targeted at checking the reasoning ability through the application of logic.
    • Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension: This section is dedicated to test the language skills of the candidate. Questions in VARC section comprises of comprehension, grammar usage, verbal logic and vocabulary.

    CAT MBA Exam Syllabus

    Quantitative Ability (QA)

    Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)

    Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)

    Question based on Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Business Mathematics

    Questions based on graphs, charts, tables and paragraphs

    Question based on Comprehension, Grammar Usage, Verbal Logic And Vocabulary

    The CAT MBA Exam Pattern

    Although the CAT MBA exam pattern remains largely unchanged, there are a few minor changes every few years. But in general, the exam pattern follows the standard pattern in which Quantitative Ability and Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension sections get 34 questions each while the DILR section gets 32 questions. The total exam time is 3 hours with each section getting 1 hour. Due to the sectional time limit, candidates cannot move between different sections while answering the questions.


    No of Questions

    Time Limit

    Quantitative Aptitude


    1 hour



    1 hour



    1 hour

    Type of Questions

    Traditionally, the CAT has been an exam based on MCQs in which candidates had to choose one option out of the four given options as the correct answer. However, recently the format of the CAT exam was changed from a completely MCQs (Multiple Choice Questions) based exam to a mixed format in which a few questions are in the TITA (Type in The Answer) format. This means that now the exam consists of both, MCQs type questions as well asa few descriptive type TITA questions.

    • MCQs – Multiple Choice Questions with four options
    • TITA – Type in The Answer: Detailed descriptive answers

    CAT MBA Marking Scheme

    Each question in the CAT exam carries 3 marks, i.e., each correct answer will earn the candidate 3 marks. Thanks to the negative marking policy, each incorrect answer will lead to a deduction of 1 mark from the overall score.

    • Correct Answer: 3 marks
    • In-correct Answer: -1 mark

    CAT Score

    The CAT score is the total marks that you score in the exam. The CAT score is the cumulative marks that a candidate has scored in each of the sections.

    • CAT score = Marks scored in all three sections

    CAT Percentile

    On the other hand, CAT percentile is an indicator of the percentage of students that are below you in the overall merit list.

    • CAT Percentile: % of students that are below you in the merit list

    CAT Exam Schedule

    Generally, the CAT MBA exam process begins in the month of July with the release of the official exam notification. Online registration process for the exam begins in the month of August with the exam scheduled to take place in the month of November. The result is generally announced in the month of January.

    • Official Notification: July
    • Online Registration Begins: August
    • CAT Exam: November
    • CAT Exam Result: January

    The CAT MBA entrance exam is one of the most popular and important entrance exams of the country and the competition quotient for this exam is rising every year. In order to be able to ‘Bell the CAT’, it is important for MBA aspirants to gain complete understanding of the exam and be well prepared for it. For more videos about MBA entrance exams, please visit www.jagranjosh.com.

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