CAT Exam 2021: Dates, Eligibility, Registration, Syllabus, Pattern, Preparation

CAT, Test Preparation

CAT Exam 2021 Dates Eligibility Registration Syllabus Pattern Preparation


Common Entrance Test or CAT is the selection examination carried out to gain enrollment into the 2 years PGDM program of the premier 20 IIMs across the country. Besides IIMs, CAT percentile and score is also accepted by more than 100 B-Schools in India. This makes ‘belling’ the CAT a priority for anyone wishing to pursue a management degree / MBA.

CAT 2020 pattern underwent a change due to the pandemic. Will the changes continue or things will go back to the pre-2020 pattern is yet to be announced. Below, the important information regarding the exam has been provided based on research of the previous year’s norms. 

CAT 2021 Important Dates

It has to be kept in mind that all these dates are tentative. Follow this page to get the latest updates regarding CAT as and when they are announced.

CAT Exam NotificationJuly 2021
Registration CommencementFirst week of August online on
Last Date of RegistrationLast week of Sept. 2021
Admit Card AvailabilityOctober 2021
Exam DateNovember 2021 ( last year it was on 29th Nov. 2020)
Result DeclarationJan. 2022

CAT 2021 Registration Process and Online Application

  • CAT registration happens exclusively online on
  • Register on the site when the Registration Link gets activated.
  • Fill in the details asked including personal details, academic performance, work experience.
  • Take care while filling in the IIM you are applying for and the four test centres you would be asked to choose.
  • The centre you will get depends on availability.
  • You will have to upload your photo and signature as well.

CAT 2021 Application Fee

  • CAT examination fee for General Category candidates and OBCs is INR 2000.
  • For SC/ ST /PWD candidates the fee is INR 1000
  • Payments are to be made online through Net Banking, Credit/ Debit Card.

CAT 2021 Eligibility Criteria:

  • CAT expects a minimum of 50 % aggregate or equivalent CGPA from General and OBC candidates.
  • For reserved category candidates, the aggregate is a minimum of 45%.
  • Students in their final year can also apply on the condition that they will complete the program before the exam.
  • There is no limit on the number of attempts.
  • There is also no age limit.

CAT 2021 Exam Pattern & Syllabus

As mentioned earlier, the CAT 2020 saw several changes in the exam pattern. Below is the trend of the pre 2020 exam along with last year’s pattern.

SectionNo. of questions before 2020No. of Questions in 2020Duration before 2020Duration in 2020
Quantitative Ability342660 mins.40 mins.
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension342660 mins.40 mins.
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning322460 mins.40 mins.
Total10076180 mins. ( 3 hours)120 mins. (2 hours)

Types of questions in CAT:

CAT exam carry MCQs and non MCQ s questions, also referred to as TITA questions. A candidate has to keep in mind that negative marking does happen in CAT and thus should plan answering the questions accordingly. 

The marking scheme is as follows:

Types of QuestionsMarks Negative Marking
MCQ3 marks for each correct answer1 mark for each wrong answer
TITA3 marks for each correct answerNo negative marking

CAT 2021 Syllabus:

CAT does not follow a rigid syllabus. There are 3 sections that the question paper is divided into and anything which is related to the topic of the section can be placed in the form of a question under it. This makes CAT an extremely challenging exam to attempt and score in.

Quantitative Aptitude:

Logical skills along with analytical skills are tested in this section besides quantitative knowledge. It’s related to calculations involving various aspects of Mathematics and Geometry. 

  • Polynomials
  • Simple Interest and Compound Interest
  • Speed, Time and Distance
  • Ratio and Proportion
  • Profit, Loss
  • Sequences and Series
  • Probability, Permutations and Combinations
  • Geometry
  • Logarithms
  • Linear and Quadratic Equations
  • Mensuration
  • Trigonometry 

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension

This section involves reading unseen passages and reading its content to infer its essence and answer the questions related to it. The passages can be tough and lengthy. 

  • Analogies and Reverse Analogies
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Inference based questions
  • Antonyms and Synonyms
  • Grammar in different forms
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Summary based questions
  • Meaning/ Usage Match

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

This section usually has word problems which may be combined with data forms like tables, charts or graphs at times. This makes this section tough to score without consistent practice.

  • Venn Diagrams
  • Pie charts
  • Line Graphs
  • Tables
  • Bar Graphs and COlumn Graphs
  • Binary Logic
  • Connectives
  • Logical Sequencing
  • Calendars and CLocks
  • Connectives
  • Any of the above mentioned topics combined together 

CAT 2021 Cut Off

CAT cut off means the minimum percentile that  a candidate should achieve to get into an institute. Of course, the cut off varies from institute to institute . IIM Ahmedabad would have a higher cut off compared to IIM Jammu. While deciding on the institutes to apply to, one must check out the cut off of the previous years for the respective management institutes. The cut off given below is the approximate cut off value for 2021.

Institute NameApprox. Cut off
IIM Ahmedabad99+
IIM Calcutta99+
IIM Bangalore99 +
IIM Kozhikode97-98
IIM Indore97-98
IIM Lucknow97-98
IIM Sambalpur95-96
IIM Nagpur95-96
IIM Amritsar95-96
IIM Trichy94-95
IIM Kashipur94-95
IIM Raipur94-95
IIM Bodhgaya92-94
IIM Udaipur92-94
IIm Vizag92-94
IIM Shillong90- 92
IIM Jammu90-92
IIM Sirmaur90- 92


  • Cut off indicates that the candidate is eligible for WAT/ GD — PI by the institute.
  • IIMs do not declare the final cut offs.
  • As there are categories for CAT the result or final cut off will also be declared category wise. It is a given that General Category’s cut off is higher than Reserved Category’s final  cut offs.
  • A cut off need not mean that admission is ensured to the institute.

CAT Selection Procedure

An important fact to be kept in mind is that IIMs do not consider just your score in The Common Admission Test. The other parameters for testing your abilities are Group Discussion ( GD) /  Writing Ability Test  (WAT) or it can be both, depending on the institute and also Personal Interview (PI).

Weightage is also given to academic performance in Classes 11th and 12th as well as graduation result. 

The new IIMs have started conducting the Common Admission Process ( CAP) where the shortlisted candidates appear for WAT and PI rounds together.

Each IIM will declare its Merit List based on the calculations done with all these parameters and also taking into account the Normalisation Score. 

Certain trends were observed in the last selection process :

  • Some IIMs like IIM Rohtak did not consider the sectional cut off but the overall CAT score of a candidate.
  • Many IIMs did not consider WAT and had PI online.
  • Allotted weightage to CAT score had been reduced and more consideration given to academic performance and other factors.

How to prepare for the CAT Exam?

CAT is a hard nut to crack and there are no shortcuts to achieve the requisite percentile to get into the IIM of your choice. There are a few techniques though that will help you get there. Read on to know about them.

  • Aim for 100 % Accuracy: 

Avoid any guess work and giving random answers. Remember, the negative marking will affect your chance of getting into a good IIM. Attempt those questions for which you are confident that you know the answer. Again, achieving that kind of accuracy needs a lot of hard work. It is ok to have a few answers wrong but the aim is to get more than 75 percent of answers correct in each section. 

  • Strengthen your basics:

 No attempt can get you above 90 percentile or score if your basics aren’t strong. Brush them up, practice and master them. This will lead to better speed and accuracy. One must aim for being able to mentally solve problems in as less time as possible.

  • Better your time management:

CAT is all about maximum accuracy in minimum time. Each section is allotted a time limit. To be able to solve most of the questions in the right manner within the time limit is an excruciating challenge. But that remains the main strategy to achieve 99 percentile. So time yourself every time you attempt questions and maintain a record of it.

  • Practice with mock papers:

One cannot attain a good percentile if mock tests are not attempted repeatedly and persistently. Continuous practice gives you the confidence to attempt the test while managing your time and increasing the number of correct answers with each attempt.

  •    Develop a strategy:

The difficulty level of the CAT varies and there is no way to predict what level you will get to ultimately attempt. So develop a plan for how you will handle the paper. Always read it a couple of times to figure out how difficult it is. Attempt the easier section / questions first. Keep a check on the time. Do not go around second guessing answers to avoid negative marking.

  • A good guidance

It is a prerequisite for a 99 percentile CAT exam to have able and well-qualified mentors who can use the latest techniques and teaching tools to enable a first-class online CAT preparation. Efficient time management methods and tricks to solve as many questions within a short period are taught at Edulyte. 

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