What is IIM's CAT (Common Admission Test) all about?:
Category : CAT
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What is CAT?

The Common Admission Test (CAT) is an all-India test conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) as an entrance exam for the management programs of its seven business schools (IIMA, IIMB, IIMC, IIML and others). About 250,000 students took CAT in 2022 for about 1500 seats in the IIMs. This is said to make the IIMs more selective than the Ivy League Universities

[The test is multiple-choice based with roughly one-fourth negative-mark penalties for wrong answers, and traditionally comprises three sections that span the domains of arithmetical problem solving, geometry, statistics, data interpretation, logical reasoning, puzzles, and English language skills. It is held on the third Sunday of November each year. The test duration was two hours prior to year 2006, but since 2006, it has been extended to two and a half hours. The total number of questions has varied from 180 (prior to year 2000) to 150 (from 2001 to 2003) and has gradually decreased to 75 (in 2006 and 2007). However, in 2008 the number of questions increased once again and became 90 (40 in Verbal Ability and 25 each in Quantitative Aptitude and Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation). This trend has seen the CAT evolve from a speed-based test to an exam that evaluates fundamental abilities of candidates in the aforementioned areas. In 2009 CAT the no. of questions decreased to 60 ( 20 questions in each section quantitative analysis, logical reasoning + Data interpretation and Verbal ability) with increase in complexity of questions.
The CAT is the first step for admission to the IIMs. After the test, by the second week of January next year, the IIMs declare exam scores and put up a list of candidates who are eligible for the next stage of a Group Discussion and Personal Interview for IIMs. The scores are relative and are calculated on a percentile basis for individual sections as well as for the total. Candidates invited for the next stage usually possess total scores that are in excess of 99 percentile and, more importantly, also possess balanced high scores across all the individual sections.
On 1 May 2009, it was announced that from CAT 2009 would be a Test. Convener  for CAT 2011 has reported the change in pattern from 2011 onwards. As per the new pattern, no. of sections are reduced to two. One of the section will test Quantitative aptitude and Data Interpretation of the candidate and the other section will comprise questions from Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning. Candidates will be given two hours and thirty-five minutes to complete the exam which includes fifteen minutes tutorial and seventy minutes each to both the sections. The testing window for the online exam will be from Oct 22, 2011 to November 18,2011

Academic Eligibility:

For applicants applying for CET:
The final examination conducted by the 10+2 system conducted by any recognized Central/State board, such as Central Board of Secondary Education, New Delhi, the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations, New Delhi, or any other state board, General Certificate Education, Pre-University Examination, HSC Vocational examination.


English, Mathematics and Science are compulsory core subjects. Other papers can be chosen from French, German, Spanish; Latin, Greek; Geography, History, and Religious Studies. Most senior schools expect candidates to offer Geography, History, Religious Studies and one or two languages, but pupils from schools which do not offer the traditional range of subjects or weaker pupils can offer a reduced number of papers: entrance requirements are dictated only by the senior school, not by the examination.

Role in admissions:

The exam has no official standing, because it is used only by the independent sector as a transfer exam to senior schools and it is not nationally standardized. Independent schools may naturally determine their entry requirements, generally or in individual cases, but the Common Entrance allows Preparatory schools (known in the UK as Prep Schools) to teach almost all pupils to a common syllabus, and provides common basis on which a public school can compare candidates from different prep schools. There is no standardization in marking and every senior school has its own mark scheme and own `pass` threshold. This varies considerably between schools and therefore no reliable comparisons can be made between results achieved at different schools.In practice the Common Entrance exam, while providing valuable discipline and motivation, only rarely determines admission, and failure should be an exceptional event. It is in the interests of neither the schools nor the pupil if a candidate is either admitted to a `too-demanding` school, or fails an exam. Prep schools should be able to assess and report their candidates` prospects accurately. Parents should be rightly disappointed if a prep school advises that a pupil can attempt Common Entrance to an inappropriate school, or if a public school allows an excessive number of candidates to sit the exam.
Past papers can be ordered from the ISEB website or by mail.
Pattern of the Test
CAT (as it is most commonly known across India) has evolved from a speed based simple test into a test which demands more proficiency in concepts and fundamentals.
Earlier CATs (prior to year 2000) had 180 questions to be solved in 2 hours. For the years 2001, 2002, and 2003 the paper consisted of 3 sections of 50 questions per section.
In 2004, the IIMs introduced the concept of differential marking for the first time. The paper had 123 questions in three sections with 50 English, 35 Mathematics, and 38 Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning. The 2005 CAT contained 90 questions, 30 in each section, each having subsections containing questions with different numbers of marks.
CAT 2006, conducted on 19 November, was a 2.5-hour exam instead of the traditional 2-hour exam. The test had 75 questions, 25 questions per section and 4 marks per question, making it a 300-mark paper. There was a penalty of 1 mark for a wrong answer. The paper also proved to be a break from the previous pattern in that it had 5 answer options instead of the usual 4. The English section was generally perceived as difficult, whereas the quantitative aptitude section was relatively easier than previous CATs as well as in comparison to the other two sections.
In 2007, the CAT exam was held on Sunday, 18 November. It contained 25 questions in each of the three sections, each question having 1 mark negative for each wrong answer and 4 marks for the correct answers. The total marks were 300. This was the same pattern as CAT 2006.
The CAT paper of 2008 was a contrast as compared to 2008. It had 40 questions in English and in all 90 questions (25+25+40). For the first time a higher weight age was attributed to one of the sections. Maths for CAT08 was simpler but was full of tricks and prone silly mistakes. DI sections for 2008 was the toughest of the three. The 40 questions in English had been evenly divided for Verbal Ability(VA) and Reading Comprehension(RC). RC was easier as compared to 2007 whereas VA was tough.(CAT08 results were declared on 9 January 2009)
For CAT 2009 it has been announced by the IIM`s that there will be 60-70 questions. The test taker will have 2 hours and 15 minutes to attempt the test. A 15 minute tutorial will be given to familiarize the test taker with the computer test taking environment. Another interesting development is that this time all candidate must sign a NON DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT before attempting the test. This will legally prohibit them from revealing any aspect of the test be it the quantum or difficulty level of the questions, the pattern, or any other knick knacks about the same. Violation of this legally punishable by a fine up to 2 lac INR and/or up to 3 years imprisonment. What this effectively means that those who take the CAT at a later date in the testing window will have no additional advantage over the earlier test takers. How much is this law followed, remains to be seen.


What is IIM`s CAT (Common Admission Test) all about?:

CAT - The Common Admission Test to the six IIMs is also the entrance test for few other top B-Schools such as SP Jain, MICA, and T A Pai. CAT tests your skills in five broad areas viz.
1.    Verbal ability and reasoning
2.    Reading Comprehension
3.    Quantitative skills
4.    Data Interpretation
5.    Analytical and Logical reasoning.
The test comprised 90 questions divided into 3 sections in the year 2005. Typically this test can be expected to comprise between 75 to 150 objective type questions and is usually divided into three to four sections. Each question has a question statement followed by four alternate answer choices and the candidate has to choose the best answer for each of the questions and mark it on a special Optical Reader answer sheet.
Over the years, the number of questions being asked in CAT has been decreasing steadily. While the early 90s witnessed 180 to 200 questions, the late 90s, specifically CAT 1999 and CAT 2000 had 165 questions each. CAT 2001, CAT 2002 and CAT 2003 had only 150 questions each and these 150 questions were divided into three sections of 50 questions each. There were 123 questions in CAT 2004 and only 90 in CAT 2005. CAT 2004 and CAT 2005 both had differential marks to questions. There were 0.5 marks, 1 mark and 2 marks questions.

The duration of the test is of 120 minutes. This literally translates to answering a CAT question in 48 seconds. Most successful aspirants do not attempt anything more than 120 plus questions. And quite a lot of them attempt between 70 and 90 marks worth of questions. The key to success, therefore, lies in two important parameters
1. The accuracy or strike rate

While each correct answer carries 0.5 or 1 or 2 positive mark, each incorrect question carries 1/3rd of the marks allocated to it as negative marks. Hence, it is important to get a strike rate of over 85% - that is reduce the number of negatives.
2. Smart Selection
As it is clear that you will not be generally able to attempt all 150 marks question, and you skip between 60 to 80 questions, key to success lies in selecting questions properly. Hence, there are no kudos, noble prizes or awards waiting for attempting the tough questions. Be smart to choose, the easiest of the questions and the ones that you have practiced a lot and smash them. Do not venture into unsafe territories or to questions which you only have a vague idea.

CAT and entrance tests of other top B Schools are a unique breed of entrance exams. They focus on testing some of the basic qualities essential for managers - the grit to work hard, smartness to choose the best alternative, quick thinking and above all perseverance.

Exams like IIT JEE test the depth of your knowledge, while the Civil Services exams test your width of knowledge. CAT evaluates your presence of mind and the ability to perform under pressure. You cannot prepare for CAT during the last 10 days, as one generally does for semester exams. A minimum of 3 to 9 months of regular preparation is essential.

Ascent`s CAT classroom courses are designed to help you maximize your potential gains from these exacting entrance exams. You can choose from the Different Courses that Ascent offers

What is CAT Exam?

CAT (common admission test) exam is a computer adaptive test that has to be cleared by candidates willing to do MBA in the IIMs (Indian Institute for Management Studies), and in some of the other prestigious institutions that would accept CAT scores for admission. The test pattern is unstable and it varies every year.


1.Verbal Ability
2.Reading Comprehension
3.Problem Solving
4.Data Interpretation
5.Logical Reasoning
6.Data Sufficiency
7.Maths Problems
that’s all I know about it.