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CAT Exam 2021 – Important Dates, Eligibility Criteria, Exam Pattern & Syllabus

Last Updated : 13 Jul, 2023
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CAT (Common Admission Test) is a national-level entrance exam, conducted by IIMs on a rotational basis, for students wanting to secure the coveted MBA seats in various management institutes of the country. It is the most popular exam in India for admission in any of the 20 IIMs and the scorecard of CAT is so much valued that is not only entertained by IIMs but around 1200 other prestigious business schools all over India also give admission in management programs based on CAT score. Moreover, if we look at the numbers, around two lakh candidates appear in the CAT exam every year – it probably would be enough to give you an idea of the immense popularity of the CAT exam.


You need to know that CAT 2020 Exam was conducted by IIM Indore and the result for the same has already been declared on January 2021. Though the official dates and details for CAT 2021 have not been released yet – we’re providing you with some of the crucial insights of the CAT 2021 exam such as eligibility criteria, exam pattern, syllabus, etc. that will help you to kick off your exam preparation now. So let’s get started:

Overview of CAT Exam

Name of Exam CAT (Common Admission Test)
Conducting Body IIM
Conducting Institute (2021) To be announced
Exam Type  Computer Based Test (CBT)
Validity of the Exam Score   1 Year
Exam Fee Rs 2,000 (General category) and Rs 1,000 (Reserved category) – Expected
Official Website

CAT Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility criteria for the CAT 2021 exam is as follows:

  • A candidate must have a bachelor’s degree with at least 50% marks or equivalent CGPA from a recognized board or university. The minimum percentage is reduced to 45% for candidates belonging to SC, ST, and PWD/DA category.
  • The candidates with CA / CS / ICWA qualifications with the required percentage are also eligible to apply.
  • Candidates who are appearing for the final year of their Bachelor’s degree exam or who have completed the graduation degree and awaiting the results are also eligible to apply for the CAT exam 2021.

CAT Exam Pattern

It is a computer-based test and mainly consists of three sections – Quantitative Aptitude (QA), Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC), and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR). The candidates need to solve both MCQ and Non-MCQ type questions in the exam.


  • Mode of Examination: Computer Based Test
  • Duration: 180 minutes
  • Sectional Timing: 60 minutes each
  • Total Questions: 100
  • CAT Marking Scheme: +3 Marks for each right answer, -1 Marks for each wrong answer. Also, there would be no negative marking for Non-MCQs.
Section No. Of Questions Time Allotted
Quantitative Aptitude (QA) 34 60 minutes
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC) 34 60 minutes
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) 32 60 minutes
Total 100 180 minutes

IMPORTANT: In last year’s CAT Exam, i.e. CAT 2020, there were several significant changes in the exam pattern mainly due to the COVID situation. For instance, the duration of the test was reduced from 180 minutes to 120 minutes with 40 minutes (instead of 60 minutes) for each section. Also, the total number of questions is 76 instead of 100. Though chances are more that the exam pattern for the CAT 2021 may remain the same as all the previous year’s ones (except 2020).

CAT 2021 Important Dates

You need to remember that the official dates for the CAT 2021 exam have been released yet – these are the tentative dates, based on previous years’ CAT exam, that are being provided to you for reference purposes:

Events Dates
Issue of CAT 2021 Notification  Last Week of July 2021
Registration Starts From First Week of August 2021  
Registration Ends on  Last Week of September 2021
Availability of Admit Card Third Week of October 2021
CAT 2021 Exam Date  Last week of November 2021 
CAT 2021 Exam Result Declaration  Second Week of January 2022

CAT Syllabus

The section-wise syllabus for the CAT Exam is given below:

1. Quantitative Ability (QA)

  • Number System
  • Quadratic & Linear Equations | Algebra
  • Geometry | Trigonometry
  • Percentage | Averages
  • Functions | Set Theory
  • Simple & Compound Interest
  • Ratio and Proportions | Probability
  • Permutation & Combination
  • Arithmetic Progression (AP) & Geometric Progression
  • Profit & Loss | Time & Work
  • Factorials | Complex Numbers
  • Speed, Time, and Distance
  • Mensuration | Coordinate Geometry
  • Mixture and Alligation | Inequalities

2. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Para Jumbles | Para-Summary
  • Antonyms | Synonyms
  • Sentence Completion and Correction
  • Fill in the Blanks
  • Analogies | Idioms
  • One-word Substitutions | Error-Spotting

3. Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)

  • Data Analysis | Data Tables
  • Bar Charts | Pie Charts
  • Venn Diagram | Graphs
  • Syllogisms | Puzzles
  • Assertion and Reason
  • Arrangements-based questions
  • Blood Relations | Direction Test
  • Binary Logic
  • Clocks and Calendars
  • Coding-Decoding

CAT Score and Admission Process

The scorecard for the CAT 2021 Exam will be available to the candidates from the official website as per the schedule. As mentioned above, the scorecard comes up with a validity of 1 year. Moreover, every business school including IIMs have their own cut-offs and selection process. Along with the CAT score, various other factors such as previous academic performance, relevant work experience, etc. are also considered for short-listing the candidates at various stages of the selection process. The IIMs generally conduct three rounds for final selection:

  • Written Ability Test (WAT)
  • Group Discussion (GD)
  • Personal Interviews (PI)

Hence, to find out detailed information regarding the selection process and admission policies – candidates are recommended to visit the official websites of the respective IIMs.

So, this is all about Common Admission Test (CAT) 2021 Exam. Knowing the exam in detail and getting familiar with things like exam pattern, syllabus, eligibility criteria, etc. is very much important to create proper strategies and study plans for the CAT 2021 preparation, especially for those who’re appearing for it for the first time. As of now, you would have already known that CAT is by no means an easy-to-go exam. However, with the right preparation strategies and sheer determination – you will surely be able to crack the exam on your first attempt!!

How to Prepare for the CAT Exam?

For the most efficient and effective preparation of the CAT exam, GeeksforGeeks brings you the CAT 2021 Preparation Test Series. This course covers all three sections i.e. Quantitative Ability (QA), Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC), and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) – and here you’ll get timed tests of different difficulty levels that are designed to help in tracking both speed and accuracy. In addition, theory regarding important sections is also provided in the tracks which aid both in concept building and revision.

The course consists of 27 Sectionals Tracks, 27 Sectional Contests, and 3 Full-Length Mocks, and let us tell you that both the tracks and the contests assess you on three levels of difficulty to help you prepare for the question of any difficulty level you might face in the examination.

CAT 2021 Test Series

The CAT 2021 Preparation Test Series is being provided to you at a student-friendly price, INR 499/- Also, you’ll be provided with a detailed explanation after the test completion for all the required questions. It will surely help you in clearing the doubts and improving your problem-solving skills.

You are just a click away to level up your CAT 2021 preparation game – register now for the CAT 2021 Preparation Test Series asap!!

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