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CAT 2018: Exam Pattern - Syllabus - Eligibilty

What Is The CAT Exam?

The Common Admission Test (CAT) is a competitive aptitude test conducted annually in the month of November/December. The MBA entrance exam is conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management and is a gateway for aspirants to study in the IIMs and other institutes which consider the CAT score for short-listing and admission. The date for CAT 2018 exam is 25th November 2018. The CAT exam is one of the most popular MBA entrance exams and tests a candidate's reasoning ability, mathematical prowess and proficiency in the English language. It also tests the ability to solve problems in a timed and high-pressure environment.

The CAT exam pattern has been ever-evolving, going online in 2009, followed by multiple significant changes to the CAT paper pattern. CAT 2018 will follow the same pattern as CAT 2017.

  • Important Links

 CAT Important Dates

CAT 2018 Examination Date

25th November, 2018 (Sunday)

Registrations Open

8th August, 2018

Registrations Close

19th September, 2018

Admit Card

24th October - 25th November, 2018

CAT Tutorial

17th October, 2018

CAT Result

2nd Week of January, 2019

Who Can Give The CAT Exam (CAT Exam Eligibility Criteria)?

According to the official CAT 2018 Website: The candidate must hold a Bachelor’s Degree, with at least 50% marks or equivalent CGPA [45% in case of the candidates belonging to Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST) and Persons With Disability (PwD) categories], awarded by any University or educational institution as incorporated by an Act of the Parliament or State legislature in India or declared to be deemed as a University under Section 3 of the UGC Act, 1956, or possess an equivalent qualification recognized by the Ministry of HRD, Government of India.

  • Candidates appearing for the final year of Bachelor’s degree/equivalent qualification examination and those who have completed degree requirements and are awaiting results can also apply. However, it may be noted that such candidates, if selected, will be allowed to join the programme provisionally, only if they submit a certificate from the Principal/Registrar of their University/Institution (issued on or before the date as stipulated by the respective IIM) stating that they have completed all the requirements for obtaining the Bachelor’s degree/equivalent qualification on the date of the issue of the certificate.
  • Candidates applying for CAT 2018 should fulfill any one of the following conditions:
  • Completed Bachelor’s degree with the required percentage of marks*
  • Completed professional degree (CA/CS/ICWA) with required percentage*.
  • Should be in the final year of Bachelor’s degree with required percentage*.

* SC/ST/PwD candidates should have a minimum of 45%. For General and NC-OBC candidates, the minimum is 50%.

  • The percentage of marks obtained by the candidate would be calculated based on the practice as followed by the respective University/Institution. In case of grades/CGPA, the conversion to the percentage of marks would be based on the procedure as certified by the respective University/Institution. If any University/Institution confirms that there is no scheme for converting CGPA into equivalent marks, the equivalence would be established by dividing the candidate’s CGPA by the maximum possible CGPA and multiplying the result with 100.

Why Should I Give CAT 2018?

The Common Admission Test is a direct gateway to the most prestigious management institutes of the country. If you feature above the 99th percentile of all applicants, you are highly likely to be shortlisted for management institutes such as IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta, IIM Lucknow, IIM Indore, IIM Kozikhode and 14 other top IIMs.

You are also eligible to be shortlisted for premier non-IIM Institutes.

All of these institutes are responsible for refining and polishing a student to be at the top of the corporate ladder. At these institutes, you will be equipped with the most in-depth knowledge and technical expertise required to be at the helm of an organization. With Faculty having decades of invaluable experience and peers who belong to the creme de la creme of the country, your personality is likely to grow exponentially.

What's more, you are likely to be recruited by top global and Indian companies such as Hindustan Unilever, Nestle, ITC Limited, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, McKinsey & Company, The Boston Consulting Group, TATA Administrative Services, Aditya Birla Group, and many more such market leaders.

There is likely to be a significant escalation in your paycheck, along with the opportunity to work at some of the best offices across the globe.

But make no mistake, CAT or even admission into an IIM is not a guarantee of ready-made success. However, belonging to a premier management institute can be a safety net.

What is The CAT Exam Pattern/Syllabus?

The Common Admission Test has the following paper pattern:

  • The exam consists of 3 sections - Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VA RC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DI LR), Quantitative Ability (QA).
  • The VA RC section consists of 34 questions, the DI LR section consists of 32 questions and the QA section consists of 34 questions, making a total of 100 questions to be solved.
  • Questions in each section must be solved within a time limit of 60 minutes, therefore amounting to a total of 180 minutes for the exam.
  • The exam has negative marking, deducting 1 mark for each wrong answer and allocating 3 marks for each correct answer.
  • The exam questions consist of Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) and Type In The Answer (TITA) format of questions. The TITA questions do not have any negative marking.

Webinars: How To Prepare For CAT Exam?

Which Institutes Consider The CAT Exam Scores?

A total of 111 management institutecross the country consider an applicant's CAT score for the admission process, including 20 IIMs and non-IIM institutes such as SPJMIR Mumbai, MDI Gurgaon, JBIMS Mumbai, FMS Delhi, IRMA, IMT Ghaziabad, XIMB, Great Lakes Institute of Management etc.

When Is The Next CAT Exam?

The next CAT exam will be CAT 2018, conducted by IIM Calcutta on 25th November 2018 (Sunday). The exam pattern will be the same as of CAT 2017.

CAT registration opens on 8th August 2 (Wednesday) and will close after 45 days, on 19th September 2018 (Wednesday). The registration fees are expected to be Rs. 1900, as was for CAT 2017.

Click here for more details about CAT 2018 exam.

How Many People Give CAT?

Over 2 Lakh applicants give the Common Admission Test every year. For instance, 2.31 Lakh applicants gave CAT 2017.

Also, read: 50 Things To Know About IIMs


  1. I am not an Engineer. Will I still be able to crack CAT 2018?

    Yes, you most certainly stand an equal chance as anyone else to crack CAT. CAT is an exam which is increasingly being designed to cater to non-engineers as well. While it is true that Engineers may have an additional advantage in dealing with numbers, that is not the case for everyone. Furthermore, top management institutes such as IIMs also have points for diversity, which is an added advantage for non-engineers.

  2. I am weak at Maths. How do I prepare for the QA section? 

    Not everyone is highly proficient in mathematics. Therefore, to become good at number crunching, one must practice as much as possible. There are multiple online and offline resources to help you do this. A candidate very weak in Mathematics will take anywhere between 5-6 months to become CAT-ready. It is achievable.

  3. What happens after CAT? 

    If you meet the selection criteria set by various management institutes, you will be given a short-list call and will be invited for the next set of rounds to gain admission into the institute. This set of rounds will involve Academic Writing Tests, Personal Interview, Group Discussions and Extempore. Selection criteria for institutes can be different. For instance, the Common Admission Process consists of a GD round, but IIM Ahmedabad substitutes that with an AWT round.

  4. Which are the top institutes I should aim for? 

    Click here for a list of India's Most Desirable B-Schools.

  5. How much time does it take to prepare for the CAT exam? 

    Ideally, a candidate will require 6-8 months to prepare well for CAT, although CAT 99 percentilers have been known to prepare for CAT in a duration of just 3-4 months as well.

  6. How long will my CAT score be valid for?

    Unlike other MBA competitive exams such as GMAT and GRE, the CAT score is valid only for a period of one year. However, if you would like to work/continue working for a year before joining your institute, some B-Schools can provide you with deferred admission as well.

  7. Can I prepare for CAT while working?Should I quit my job to prepare for the exam?

    You most certainly can prepare for CAT while working. In fact, it is recommended that you attempt CAT without leaving your job. Management institutes have marks for work experience, and this can boost your chances of being at a top B-School. Further, a lot of campus recruiters at your MBA institute would prefer industry experience, in which case you will have an advantage.

  8. What do I need to do to get into IIM Ahmedabad? 

    If you belong to the General Category, you would need a score upward of 99 percentile to ensure a shortlist call from IIM A. Also, a good academic score in Class 10th, 12th and Graduation will play a major role in getting a shortlist call. An ideal candidate should have (90/90/80) in their 10th, 12th and Graduation. However, it is common for aspirants to be shortlisted with graduation scores as low as 60% (although that would have to be compensated for by a high CAT score). IIM Ahmedabad also provides diversity points to non-engineers whom it categorizes under 7 academic streams - A1 to A7.

Ask all your CAT queries on the InsideIIM Q&A Section