CAT-Common Admission Test

CAT 2020 Registrations to Begin From Aug. 5; Entrance Exam Scheduled on Nov. 29.

The Common Admission Test (CAT) 2020 notification has been released by IIM Indore much ahead than expected by aspirants. Scheduled to be held on Nov. 29, the registration process for CAT 2020 has already started.

The Dates and Times

Aspirants have to register for CAT 2020 online in the official IIM website: This year on, registration fees for general category aspirants has been raised to ₹2000 for the general category and ₹100 for reserved categories.

As per the official notification, there are no changes in the exam pattern and the exam will be conducted at multiple exam centers in over 156 cities in two slots: 9 AM—12 PM; and, 2 PM—5 PM.

In a Nutshell

The salient features of this year’s CAT are provided in the table below:

Features Details 
Exam NameCommon Admission Test (CAT) 
Conducting BodyIIM
Conducting InstituteIIM Indore
Exam LevelNational
Exam FrequencyOnce a year
Exam ModeOnline
Exam Duration180 minutes
Exam SyllabusVerbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)Quantitative Ability (QA)
Exam Pattern100 questions in MCQ and non-MCQ format
Exam Fees₹2,000 (general category) and ₹1,000 (reserved categories)
Number of Applications Received 2.44 lakh (In 2019)
Exam PurposeAdmission into IIMs, SPJIMR, FMS, MDI, IMT and over 1200 B Schools in India
Course OfferedMBA/PGDM
No. of Test Cities156
Exam Helpdesk No.1-800-209-0830 (Toll Free)
Exam Website

About CAT-(Common Admission Test)

Unlike most other entrance exams in India, CAT is one in which the questions asked are based on the application of knowledge and require a holistic approach, both for preparing for it and then writing it.

Considered to be the ticket to not only India’s, but the world’s, best business schools, over two lakh candidates appear in CAT exam every year. In 2019, for example, 2,44,190 lakh aspirants registered for the test, out of which 2,09,926 candidates appeared, a record of the past decade.

Exam Pattern and Marking Scheme

CAT is a computer-based test (CBT) for admission in graduate management programmes and the exam pattern comprises three major sections, namely:

(i) Quantitative Aptitude (QA);

(ii) Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR); and

(iii) Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC).

The VARC section has 34 questions, DILR section has 32, and the QA section has 34 questions. The total marks of the exam will be 300, three marks for each question correctly answered.

CAT 2020 scoring pattern remains same as last year with +3 marks for each correct answer and -1 mark for each wrong answer for MCQs only. No negative marking for Non-MCQs. Also, this year’s CAT 2020 offers option to select six test cities in order of preference instead of the option of four cities that were there till CAT 2019. 

CAT 2020 exam Admit Card download starts on Oct. 28, 2020, and a tutorial to understand the CAT exam pattern will be released on Oct. 16, 2020, on the official CAT (Common Admission Test) website:

CAT is the largest MBA entrance exam for admission to 20 Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) Delhi, IIT Department of Management Studies (DoMs), SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR), Management Development Institute (MDI) Gurgaon, and and more that 500 top- and mid-tier MBA Colleges in India.

Every year more than 2,40,000 students from all disciplines including Engineering, Commerce, Humanities and even Law take CAT exam to get into one of the 6,500 MBA seats in IIMs.

 CAT Exam Pattern of Previous Years

The pattern for CAT 2020 paper is expected to be on the same lines as the CAT 2019.

CAT 2019 Exam Pattern

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)34 VA – 10 
RC – 24
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)32LR – 24
DI – 8
Quantitative Aptitude (QA)34LR – 24
DI – 8
Total No. of Questions100
CAT Exam Pattern – Total Number of MCQ Vs Non-MCQ Questions
Section No.Section NameTotal Number of QuestionsNumber of Multiple Choice QuestionsNumber of Non-MCQs (TITA Questions)
IVerbal Ability & Reading Comprehension34277
IIData Interpretation & Logical Reasoning32248
IIIQuantitative Ability342311

What is the Most Practical Strategy to Prepare for CAT?

Every CAT aspirant always has a nagging about whether he or she is using the right strategy tp prepare for CAT, which is India’s most prestigious MBA entrance examination conducted jointly every year jointly by IIM and Tata Consultancy Services, which is the former’s IT-Partner.

One thumb rule is to dedicate a minimum of 40 hours every week and as the exam approaches, aspirants should focus more sharply on QA and VARC. The primary reason Radian recommends more time for these subjects is that speed in is the essence when one writes these two tests and practice makes perfect.

Remember though that there can be no set-plan on how the 40 hours every week should be dedicated to preparation because each aspirant is different with different strengths and weaknesses. The one rule that can be applied though is that 12 hours every week is dedicated to each of the three subjects with two extra hours each for the sections on which the aspirant thinks he or she needs more preparation.

Like with all exams you write, the four things you need to keep in mind even when preparing for CAT (Common Admission Test) is:

1. Focus on the basics to start with: Simply put, this means that you need to get your A-B-Cs of all the three sections right before delving deeper into the subjects for CAT-level preparation.

2. Do a SWOT analysis before you start preparing: Read the syllabus of the examinatin, carefully analyse it and do an honest SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. This will tell you how to distribute your time between the various topics so that your weak spots and threats get more attention.

3. Master the concepts: After Steps 1 and 2, start working on mastering the intricate concepts of each section of the exam. A word of caution: Do not skip straight to Step 3, you cannot proceed to master the complexities without first being absolutely clear of the basics.

4. Write as many mock tests as you can: This will be the acid test of how well (or how badly) prepared you are to write CAT(Common Admission Test). Mock tests not only show the clarity of your concepts but also help in answering questions in the minimum possible time. Always remember that time is of the essence in CAT. The faster you are, the better chance you have in cracking CAT(Common Admission Test).

Should One Try to Answer all Questions in all Sections?

Going by the marking scheme of CAT, a score of 180 (out of 300) is a decent result because it gives you a percentile of around 99.

Going by these numbers, if you manage to answer 60 questions correctly out of the 100 in each section, you have a fairly good chance of getting into one of the top IIMs.

The breakup of each section in the table below will give you a clear idea of the sectional cut-off as well.

SectionQuestionsAttempted QsScore

Please make a note that the above numbers are just benchmarks, and how much you score in each section will depend on your comfort-level with it. For example, one may be able to answer just 20 questions in QA, but 18 and 25 in DILR and VARC, respectively. The above table only shows how someone who has prepared for CAT(Common Admission Test) with equal weightage to each section would attempt.

Also note that not all questions you attempt will be correct, assuming a 100 percent accuracy in CAT is an impractical thought. The message we wish to convey through the table above is that scoring high marks in CAT is very achievable with a good strategy on how to prepare for CAT.

More detailed plans on how to prepare for CAT (Common Admission Test) sections is given below:

Preparing for VARC

A study of the CAT exam pattern over the past decade shows that the weightage of the reading comprehension section has increased significantly (up to 70 percent) of the VARC section.

As the name reading comprehension (RC) suggests, the best way to prepare for the VARC section is by reading a lot. How fast you can read and comprehend a passage is of critical importance because a CAT (Common Admission Test) aspirant needs to read and answer questions in five passages apart from the 10 Verbal Ability (VA) questions. Going by conservative estimates, RC section in 40 minutes with 20 minutes for the VA section, and that will allow you to attempt the maximum number of questions with reasonable accuracy.

Ensure that you dedicate one to two hours daily to the VARC section.

75 percent of the time you spent on VARC should be spent on attempting four RC passages. This means, that if you take a day’s break every week, you should be able to practise 24 RCs per week. Practice is the only way to ensure success and so by attempting more questions will get you a 99 percentile in CAT and your preparation will be on the right track.

Also ensure that you have attempted at least 700 RCs while preparing. It will definitely increase your comfort-level with different types of passages.

In the remaining 25 percent of your VARC-;preparation-time, attempt a set 12-20 VA questions. This plan should allow you to prepare well enough and then, of course, analysis of the mock tests you attempt will give you a real picture on whether you are on the right track.

Mock tests also give you a fair idea of what type of questions you are comfortable with, and once you are able to identify those, they should be the ones you attempt first in the real CAT(Common Admission Test).

*For a deeper insight on how to successfully crack CAT 2020’s VARC section, watch our expert’s video at <DrRSA website video link> or on our Youtube channel at <youtube video link>.

Preparing for DILR

Similarly, if you are looking at attempting 15-16 questions of DILR in CAT 2018 (see table 1.1) with high accuracy, you should be able to score a good percentile.

Like for VARC, you should dedicate 1 hour daily for DILR. Within 1hour, you should try to complete 2 sets each of Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation questions.

Sometimes a lot of DI questions require logical thinking and it becomes confusing to differentiate between the two types, but that calls for a separate explanation in itself.

By attempting 2 Logical Reasoning and 2 Data Interpretation sets per day, you’ll be completing 12 sets of LR and DI questions each within a week.

Likewise, this will ensure that you have attempted 700 DILR sets before CAT (Common Admission Test) excluding mocks!

The image below shows the ratio in which most students attempt their DILR section (12 questions in LR and 4 questions in DI). This is purely indicative and aspirants who are more comfortable with DI can attempt more questions in DI than in LR.

It is important to go through both sections since the section would have 1 DI and 1 LR at least which are easy to solve. Identifying and Solving these questions is a must if the candidates wish to score

*For a deeper insight on how to successfully crack CAT 2020’s DILR section, watch our expert’s video at <DrRSA website video link> or on our Youtube channel at <youtube video link>.

How to Prepare for QA?

Let us revisit the table. As we saw there, 23 attempted questions out of 34 questions in QA should result in a percentile of 99 and you should plan to try at least 23 QA questions per week.

After studying the CAT Exam papers for the past four years, one thing we noticed is increased focus on algebra and arithmetic questions. These two subjects aRE JUST 33 percent of the entire syllabus but account for almost 70 percent of all questions asked.

Thus your sharpest focus should be on arithmetic, numbers, and algebra. You should make these subjects a priority because between 40-50 percent of basic concepts of numbers will help you in Algebra.

But, do not focus too sharply on any one subject and ignore the rest. CAT (Common Admission Test) is infamous for surprising candidates every once in a while. Therefore, geometry and modern math should not be ignored.

Once you have decided on your CAT-preparation strategy, the one thing that should always be kept in mind is that speed is of critical importance. The difference between the toppers and wannabes in CAT (Common Admission Test) is, more often than not, speed.

*For a deeper insight on how to successfully crack CAT 2020’s QA section, watch our expert’s video at <DrRSA website video link> or on our Youtube channel at <youtube video link>.

To Wrap it Up

Preparation for CAT is not something that can be done in a few weeks or even months.

Even the rules that we gave in this article are not hard-and-fast and how you design your strategy for the cat (Common Admission Test) depends entirely on how you think it should be.

Do make sure though that your preparation time table has to not only covers the entire syllabus, but also gives you enough time for mock tests and revisions. Once you have drawnyour time-table, stick to it religiously and that will give you the best chance to pursue MBA from your dream college.

If you dedicate 10 hours per week (six days, with a day’s rest) on your VARC, DILR and QA concepts, and test what you have learnt every week by writing mock testsd, you’ll be right on track to score more than 99 percentile in CAT.

This was all about how to prepare for CAT (Common Admission Test) in eight months.

Stay tuned to this space for our next article, in which we will tell you how to further increase your chances of studying in an IIM as we bring more detailed exam strategy pages so that you can maximize your potential and stay on the right track to ace the CAT 2018 exam. All the best!

How Do You Fare

Now that you are all set (almost!) to write the CAT exam, we will tell you about how your tests are scored and—given past trends—what cut-off is expected at each IIM in 2020.

Given below is what you need to know to get a fair idea of where you stand in CAT 2020. We have segregated the information under the heads:

1. The determining factors of CAT cut-off 2020; and,

2. The cut-offs expected in various IIMs pan India

Determining Factors of CAT Cut-Off 2020

Each IIM will individually release its cut-off after the declaration of CAT 2020 results. Before releasing the cut-offs, IIMs will consider certain determinants/factors. A few of the major factors which are considered by IIMs as disclosed in previous years’cut-offs of CAT are tabulated below:

S. No.FactorsDetails
1Difficulty level of question paperThe higher the difficulty level of paper, the lower will be the cut-off, and vice-versa.
2Number of aspirantsThe higher the number of aspirants writing the test, the higher will be the cut-off, and vice-versa.
3Seat availabilityThe number of seats available in each IIM also affect the cut-off, which is inversely proportional to the number of  seats available.
4Reputation of instituteReputed institutes that are ranked higher in the National Institute Ranking Framework NIRF 2020 will have higher cut-offs.
5Past years çut-off trendsAccording to experts, cut-offs for CAT 2020 be in the same range as cut-offs for CAT 2019.

CAT Cut-off 2020 as Estimated by Experts

IIM-Ahmedabad Cutoff 2020 (Expected)

CategoryVARCDI & LRQAAggregate
PWD (General, NC-OBC-cum-transgender, SC)60606070
PWD (ST)50505060

IIM-Bangalore Cut-Off 2020 (Expected)

Scheduled Caste65606070
Scheduled Tribe55555565

IIM Calcutta Cut-Off 2020 (Expected)

CategoryVARCDI & LRQAAggregate

IIM Lucknow Cut-Off 2020 (Expected)


IIM Kozhikode Cut-Off 2020 (Expected)

CategoryCAT Sectional PercentileClass 10th PercentileClass 12th PercentileOverall Percentile for CAT
NC-OBC/ EWS65606075
ST/ Pwd45555555

IIM Indore Cut-Off 2020 (Expected)

CategoryVARCDI & LRQAOverall Percentile
NC-OBC cum transgender70707080

IIM Udaipur Cut-Off 2020 (Expected)

CategoryVARCDI & LRQAOverall Percentile
Differently Abled Person30303040

IIM Nagpur Cut-Off 2020 (Expected)

CategoryDILRVARCQAOverall Percentile

IIM Visakhapatnam Cut-Off 2020 (Expected)

CategoryVARCDI & LRQAOverall Percentile

IIM Kashipur Cut-Off 2020 (Expected)

CategoryData Interpretation and Logical ReasoningQuantitative AptitudeVerbal and Reading ComprehensionOverall
General80 (80.2)80 (80.12)80 (80.56)94
SC45(46.05)45 (45.42)45(45)55(55.03)
ST30 (30.64)30 (30.21)30 (30.82)40 (40.25)
NC-OBC60 (61.19)60 (60.61)60 (60.66)75 (75.02)
DAP30 (32.43)30 (31.96)30 (30.82)40(40.18)
EWS60 (61.19)60 (60.61)60 (60.66)75 (75.01)

IIM Ranchi Cut-Off 2020 (Expected)

CategoryVARCDI & LRQAOverall Percentile

IIM Raipur Cut-Off 2020 (Expected)

Scheduled Castes50505060
Scheduled Tribes30303040
Differently Abled Person (DAP)30303040

IIM Sirmaur Cut-Off 2020 (Expected)

CategoryQuantitative AptitudeDI & LRVARCOverall Percentile
Scheduled Tribe30303040
Scheduled Caste45454555

IIM Rohtak Cut-Off 2020 (Expected)

DILR Percentile >=VARC Percentile >=QA Percentile >=
General/ EWS70707095
Non-Creamy-Other Backward Classes60606078
Scheduled Castes50505060
Scheduled Tribe30303040
Differently Abled Person30303040

IIM Trichy Cut-Off 2020 (Expected)

CategoryQADI & LRVARCOverall Percentile

IIM Shillong Cut-Off 2020 (Expected)

CategoryDI & LRVARCQAClass 10Class 12Graduation
Differently abled505050505050
Scheduled caste606060555555
Scheduled tribe505050505050

IIM Jammu Cut-Off 2020 (Expected)

CategoryDI & LRVARCQAOverall
Scheduled caste50505060
Scheduled tribe30303040

IIM Bodh Gaya Cut-Off 2020 (Expected)

CategoryQADI & LRVARCOverall Percentile

IIM Sambalpur Cut-Off 2020 (Expected)

CategoryQuantitative AbilityDI & LRVARCOverall

IIM Amritsar Cut-Off 2020 (Expected)

CategoryQADI & LRVARCOverall Percentile
Dr. RS Aggarwal
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