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CAT Exam Pattern 2023: Paper Pattern, Marking Scheme

Exam Pattern: CAT The format of the CAT exam in 2023 won’t change, but the total number of questions will go down. So, candidates are told to check the site often and never miss an update about the CAT Exam. Any changes to the CAT test will be posted here. It’s important for candidates to […]

 Saurav Anand
|05/12/2022 | Share:
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CAT, Common Admission Test

Exam Pattern: CAT

The format of the CAT exam in 2023 won’t change, but the total number of questions will go down. So, candidates are told to check the site often and never miss an update about the CAT Exam. Any changes to the CAT test will be posted here. It’s important for candidates to know the latest CAT exam paper pattern so they can come up with good plans for the day of the test. They must know how the CAT is scored, how long each section has, etc. Everyone who wants to take the CAT exam needs to know that the format has changed.

CAT Exam Pattern 2023: The Most Important Points

Before taking the CAT exam in 2023, candidates should know how it will be set up. Along with the announcement of the CAT exam dates for 2023, the format and method of the CAT exam will also be made public. If you want to take the CAT exam in 2023, you should learn about the most recent CAT exam format and materials.

In the last two years, the CAT exam has changed a lot because of the covid-19 pandemic. Read the article to learn more about the full CAT 2023 exam pattern, including the CAT exam paper pattern, the time given for each part of the exam, the scoring system, and other information.

CAT 2023 Test Pattern

For more information about the CAT paper pattern, candidates can look at the table below:

Duration of CAT Exam2 Hours (120 Minutes)
Name of CAT SectionVerbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)Quantitative Aptitude (QA)
Section-Wise Duration40 Minutes for Each Section (VARC, DILR, QA).53 Minutes 20 Seconds for PwD candidates for each section.
Slot-Wise SessionSlot 1: 8:30 am – 10:30 am (Morning Session)Slot 2: 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm (Afternoon Session)Slot 3: 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm (Evening Session)
Number of Questions66 Questions
CAT Exam Total Marks198 marks
Mode of CAT 2023 ExamComputer-Based Mode (CBT)
CAT Marking SchemeFor every right answer, +3 will be awarded. For every wrong answer in MCQs, -1 will be deducted. No negative marks for Non-MCQs

Important Points for the CAT Paper Pattern 2023

During the CAT exam, candidates can use an on-screen calculator to do math. An on-screen clock lets candidates see what time it is. For the MBA, candidates will be given rough worksheets that they must turn in after taking the CAT.

The candidates won’t be able to answer questions in one section and then move on to the next. On the CAT website,, you will be able to find the official CAT practise test. It gives an overall and section-by-section look at the IIM CAT 2023 exam pattern. CAT 2023 will be broken up into three parts, which are:

  • Time in the morning (8:30 am – 10:30 pm)
  • Daytime class (12:30 pm – 2:30 pm)
  • Evening session (4:30 pm – 6:30 pm)

What’s New with the CAT Test Format?

The only change to the CAT schedule since last year is that the total number of questions has changed. The organisation in charge of giving the CAT exam in 2021, IIM Ahmedabad, kept the same format as in 2020 but cut the number of questions from 76 to 66.

Up until 2019, the CAT paper pattern had 180 minutes or three hours (with a 60-minute time limit for each section) and 100 questions. In 2020, five years later, the CAT paper pattern changed. The current format of the CAT test takes 120 minutes, or two hours, and each section has a time limit of 40 minutes. Before 2020, PwD applicants got an extra 20 minutes for each segment. After 2020, they will only get an extra 13.20 minutes.

CAT Exam Pattern 2023, Section by Section

Depending on the student’s strengths and weaknesses, each part needs a different kind of study. The CAT exam pattern for 2023 can be found on the Internet. CAT can be easy, hard, or somewhere in between. Here are the sections of the CAT exam for 2023.

Section as per IIM CAT Exam Pattern 2023Total QuestionsAllotted TimeAllotted Time for PwD Students
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)2440 Minutes53 minutes and 20 seconds
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)2040 Minutes53 minutes and 20 seconds
Quantitative Aptitude (QA)2040 Minutes53 minutes and 20 seconds
Total66120 Minutes160 minutes

CAT Quantitative Aptitude Pattern

The CAT’s quantitative aptitude part is a separate section that only has questions about numbers from different areas of math. There are a total of 26 questions in this part of the test this year. Here is a full explanation of how the pattern of the quantitative aptitude section works.

The whole quantitative section is made up of five parts:

  • Basic math
  • Algebra
  • The number system
  • Geometry and Mensuration
  • Modern Maths

Pattern for CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension

The VARC part of the CAT is mostly used to test applicants’ English skills and their ability to understand and make sense of paragraphs. This year, 26 questions from the VA-RC section will be on the CAT.

This year, the Verbal Ability part of the CAT will have 8 questions. In the Verbal Ability section, the following are the most important topics:

Correct and finish the sentence Based on paraphrasing, a summary of the whole exam is made up of questions from both the reading comprehension section and the verbal skills section.

Some CAT reading comprehension questions are based on the title, while others are based on the vocabulary.

CAT Pattern for Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation

In the logical thinking and data interpretation section, candidates are tested on their ability to understand data and how it fits into a logical argument. All together, there will be 22–24 questions in this section. This year, there will be 18–20 questions on the CAT’s logical reasoning part. There are problems about inequalities, symbol operations, tests of direction sense, and other things. This part gets a good grade because the questions are easy to answer.

On the other hand, the data interpretation phase is a little hard and takes a lot of time. This section has a number of confusing data sets, and applicants must fully understand the data sets in order to do well on the question sets. Candidates should be careful with the data interpretation part of the CAT because one mistake can make them get all of the questions in a set wrong.

Highlights for Each Time Slot in the MBA CAT Exam Pattern 2023 (Expected)

VARC sections: In the VARC section, there are 18 MCQs spread out over 4 RC sections. The other 8 questions that aren’t MCQs are broken up into context sentences, paraphrases, and para jumbles.

Interpreting data and making logical decisions: 14 Questions, 10 Questions, all in sets of 6 & 4 Questions

CAT Exam Length of Time

There is a set amount of time for each part of the CAT. Based on the most recent CAT exam pattern, here are the times and slots for each section. Talk to professionals about how to study for the CAT if you want to finish all the chapters and important topics on time.

Sections as per the CAT Exam PatternCAT Sectional Time
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)40 Minutes
Quantitative Aptitude (QA)40 Minutes
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)40 Minutes
Total120 Minutes

CAT Marking Scheme 2023

The way the CAT exam is set up includes the way it is graded. It tells applicants how many points they will get for answering each question correctly and how many points they will lose for answering incorrectly.

Each correct answer will be worth a total of three points.

For every wrong answer, you will lose one point.

If you don’t answer a question, you won’t lose any points. No points will be taken away for questions that are not MCQ.

In the following table, you can see how CAT 2023 is graded:

Type of QuestionCorrect AnswerIncorrect AnswerNon-attempted Questions

How has the format of the CAT test changed over time?

The format of the CAT exam has changed many times. By looking at the table below, applicants will be able to get a good idea of how the CAT exam has changed over time. CAT is made up of three parts, which are

Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Aptitude (QA).

Each year’s share is the same as the previous year’s. The CAT exam pattern is also the same when it comes to how points are given:

CAT YearNumber of QuestionDifficulty LevelDurationIIMs
202166Moderate to High (Expected)2 hoursIIM Ahmedabad
202076Moderate to Difficult2 hoursIIM Indore
2019100Moderate to Difficult3 hoursIIM Kozhikode
2018100Moderate to Difficult3 hoursIIM Calcutta
2017100Moderate3 hoursIIM Lucknow
2016100Moderate to Difficult3 hoursIIM Bangalore
2015100Moderate to Difficult3 hoursIIM Ahmedabad 
2014100Moderate to Easy2.50 hoursIIM Indore
201360Moderate to Easy2:20 hoursIIM Indore
201260Moderate to Easy2.20 hoursIIM Indore
201160Moderate2.20 hoursIIM Calcutta

Read More

Frequently Asked Questions About CAT Exam Pattern

Q. How many times does the CAT test happen in a year?

Ans. Only once a year, on either the last Sunday of November or the first Sunday of December. On November 29, 2020, CAT 2020 was held, and on November 28, 2021, CAT 2021 was held. On November 27, CAT 2022 will be held.

Q. How many parts does the CAT test have?

Ans. There are three parts to the CAT question paper:

  • Part 1: The VARC
  • Part 2: The DOL
  • Q&A in Section 3

Q. Does the CAT 2022 exam pattern have points taken away?

Ans. Yes, each wrong answer on the CAT exam is worth a minus one. But there are no points taken away for questions that aren’t MCQs or that aren’t answered. The candidates must carefully write their answers on the sheet to avoid getting negative marks.

Q. Can I bring a calculator to the place where I take the CAT?

Ans. No, you can’t bring a calculator or any other electronic device to the CAT exam centre. On every candidate’s computer, there will be a calculator that they can use to figure things out. Experts say that candidates should learn to do math in their heads so they don’t waste time using a calculator.

Q. How many MCQs and non-MCQs does the CAT usually have?

Ans. Most of the questions on the CAT are in MCQ format. Most of the time, the questions that are not MCQs show up in the Quantitative Aptitude and DILR sections. On average, the paper has 10–11 questions that aren’t MCQs.

Q. How long do I have to finish each section of the CAT?

Ans. The time limit for each section of the CAT is 40 minutes for students in the General category and 53.20 minutes for students in the PwD category. During the exam, candidates can’t ask for more time than is allowed.

Q. Can I choose how to answer each question on the CAT?

Ans. No, the candidates will have to follow the order of the CAT question paper, which is VARC, DILR, and QA. There won’t be a choice of how to answer the question. So, candidates must also take mock tests that are set up in the same way.

Q. How many points will I lose if I don’t answer a question on the CAT?

Ans. In the CAT, you don’t lose points if you don’t answer a question. Applicants don’t have to answer a question they don’t know the answer to. They will get a score of 0 because they skipped the question.

Q. Can I bring my watch to the place where I take the CAT?

Ans. No, candidates aren’t allowed to bring watches or other electronics into the CAT exam room. There will be a timer on the screen of each candidate’s computer to help them keep track of time.

Q. Does the CAT question paper for one time slot differ from the ones for the other times?

Ans. Yes, the CAT question paper is different for each time slot. This is done so that questions don’t get leaked and cheating doesn’t happen. But almost all of the slots are about the same in terms of how hard they are to play. When the CAT percentile is calculated, each candidate’s score is put on a common scale so that there are no differences caused by the different levels of difficulty of the questions.