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CAT 2018 Exam Pattern, Marks Distribution, Syllabus

Updated On - February 6th 2019 by KRITIKA GUPTA

CAT 2018 Exam Pattern: CAT is a computer-based test that evaluates candidate’s quantitative, verbal/reading, data interpretation and reasoning skills. The paper has 3 sections, having 100 MCQ & Non-MCQ questions that are to be completed in 3 hours. Each section is timed with the individual time limit of 1 hour. Download Free CAT Sample Papers

  • This year, the exam is scheduled for November 25 in CBT mode.
  • The syllabus is based on the fundamentals of 10+2 curriculum.Check CAT 2018 Syllabus
  • As per the marking scheme, 3 marks are awarded for a correct answer and 1 mark is deducted for an incorrect answer in CAT Exam.
  • Prepare with CAT Model Paper predicted by

What to Expect from CAT 2018 Exam?

CAT Exam Pattern has observed several changes over the years. Remaining true to its unpredictable nature, the exam pattern and difficulty level of CAT 2018 is anticipated to revise this year too. Analysing last year’s mock paper, we predict the following changes in CAT Exam Pattern 2018:

  • Each section will contain non-MCQ questions, the answers of which are to be typed directly
  • An onscreen calculator will be provided
  • No option of switching between sections
  • The Quants section may be easier to attempt.

As per the analysis for CAT 2018 by Collegedunia team, DILR is expected to be toughest, VARC to be moderate and QA should be the easiest. An attempt of total 63-67 will be considered good. CAT has a success rate of 1 in 200. Check CAT Exam Cutoff

Is CAT an online test?-Most candidates deal with this query. Although CAT exam pattern is computer-based, the IIMs do not regard CAT as an online test. They call it a ‘Digital or Computer-based exam’, rather than an ‘Internet-based exam’. This means that a candidate will read the questions on a computer terminal and choose an answer by clicking on the correct option. Additionally, the timer on the computer screen tells you the remaining time to complete the current section.

Highlights of CAT Exam Pattern 2018

cat exam pattern
CAT Exam Pattern Highlights
CAT Exam Date 2018November 25, 2018 
Number of sections3 (Verbal & Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning, and Quantitative Aptitude)
Duration of exam180 minutes (60 minutes per section)
Number of questions100
CAT Exam Total Marks300
Language of paperEnglish
Number of answer choices4
Mode of examinationOnline
CAT Marking scheme+3 marks for correct answer -1 mark for incorrect answer

Score Better with CAT 2018 Preparation Tips

Sectional Pattern of CAT 2018

cat section-wise exam pattern
SectionNumber of MCQ questionsNumber of Non-MCQ questionsTotal Questions
Verbal and Reading Comprehension241034
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning24832
Quantitative Aptitude27734

CAT Exam Pattern 2018 for Quantitative Aptitude

  • This section focuses on numerical problems and will test a candidate’s mathematical knowledge.
  • It is a test of speed, accuracy, and precision.
  • There are 43 questions in this section. 
  • They will be further divided into 27 MCQ & 7 Non-MCQs

Important Topics in Quantitative Aptitude 

CAT Exam Syllabus for Quantitative Ability
VariationTime and WorkTime, Speed and Distance
Linear and Quadratics EquationsSurds and IndicesInequalities
LogarithmsMensuration and GeometryTables and Case lets
Probability/ Profit or LossCritical PathAverages and Partnerships
Alligations and MixturesAlgebraPercentage

Check  How to Prepare Quantitative Aptitude for CAT?

CAT 2017 Paper Analysis

The Quantitative ability Section of CAT 2017 was quite lengthy but candidates with mathematics background did not face many difficulties in getting through with it. Geometry was given higher weightage this year. The overall difficulty level of the exam was moderate.

Following are the highlights of Cat 2017 QA section:

  • There were only 7 Non MCQ questions, nearly half than last year’s CAT exam
  • The square root symbol looked more like pie symbol, this caused confusion.
  • Questions from the topics – Compound Interest, Coordinate Geometry, geometry, Mixture and Alligation, Permutation and Combination, Partnership, Mensuration, Logarithm, Quadric Equation, Proportion and Ratio.
  • 7 questions were inclined on the tough side.

Read CAT Paper Analysis for QA

CAT Preparation Books for Quantitative Aptitude

CAT quants books
Book NameAuthor Name/PublisherISBN Number
How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for the CATArun Sharma9352602242
Quantitative Aptitude Quantum CAT Common Admission Tests for Admission into IIMsSarvesh K. Verma9311123870
Quantitative Aptitude for the CATNishit K. Sinha9332570019

CAT Exam Pattern 2018 for Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning

  • This section will focus on two aspects- Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning.
  • Questions from Data Interpretation (DI) focus on a candidate’s ability to derive conclusions from a given set of data.
  • Logical Reasoning (LR) section tests a candidate’s logical thinking and its application to everyday problems.
  • There will be a total of 32 questions from this section.
  • They will be further divided into 24 MCQ & 8 Non-MCQs.

ReadBest Books for CAT Preparation 2018

Important Topics in Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

CAT Syllabus for Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning
Bar GraphCase lets
Line GraphCombination of Graphs
Pie ChartData Sufficiency
TablesVenn Diagram
Seating ArrangementBlood Relations
SyllogismVenn Diagram
PropositionsData Arrangement
StatementsClocks and Calendars


CAT 2017 Paper Analysis for DI/LR

  • Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) was the toughest section of CAT Exam.
  • The overall difficulty level of this section was high.
  • Some candidates faced problem in completing this section. The trick to score high in this section was only to identify the easier sets.
  • If candidates identified the easier set, the calculator would have proved useful and thus an attempt of 10-12 questions will be enough to clear the sectional cutoff.
  • 4 sets of DILR questions were there including MCQ and Non MCQ questions.
  • Questions were asked from following topics:
  1. Line Chart
  2. Table Chart
  3. Set Theory
  4. Arrangement
  5. Cube Based Sets

ReadCAT Paper Analysis for DI

CAT Books for Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

CAT reasoning books
Books for CAT ExamAuthor Name/PublisherISBN Number
CAT 2018 Data Interpretation & Logical ReasoningGautam Puri9386309475
Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for the CATNishit K. Sinha933257121X
Data Interpretation & Data SufficiencyAnanta Ashisha9352039246
How to Prepare for Data Interpretation for CATArun Sharma9352602250

CAT Exam Pattern 2018 for Verbal & Reading Comprehension

  • This section will have questions from English language and grammar.
  • It tests a candidate’s language and comprehension skills.
  • The comprehension questions will test the ability to comprehend the meaning from a given passage.
  • Questions about the language usage and their rules are also expected to appear in the exam. Testing the understanding of basic grammar is also part of the exam.
  • A total of 34 questions will be asked from this section.
  • They will be further divided into 24 MCQ & 10 Non-MCQs.

Important Topics from Verbal and Reading Comprehension

CAT Exam Syllabus for Verbal & Reading Comprehension
Sentence CorrectionWord usage
Fill in the blanksPara Jumble
Para completionFact Inference Judgement

CAT 2017 Paper Analysis for VA/RC

  • The Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension section consisted of 5 passages of 400-500 words each.
  • 3 passages had 6 questions each related to them and 2 passages had 3 questions each.
  • +3 marks were given for each correct answer and -1 marks for each wrong answer.
  • The overall difficulty level of the exam was Moderate.
  • Along with this, there were Non-MCQ from the following topics:
  1. Jumbled paragraphs – 4 questions
  2. Out of context and paragraph summary – 3 questions
  3. Find odd sentences – 3 questions

Read 5 ways to Improve Reading Speed for CAT 2018

Preparation Books for Verbal and Reading Comprehension

CAT verbal ability books
Book NameAuthor Name/PublisherISBN Number
How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CATArun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay/Arihant9352602269
30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary Mass Market PaperbackWilfred Funk & Norman Lewis/ Simon & Schuster067174349X
How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CATSharma and Upadhyay9339222695
PSC for VA for CAT ExamNishit Sinha9332570027

Check5 Recommended Magazines for CAT Preparation 2018

CAT 2018 Marking Scheme

CAT will have two types of questions– MCQs and Non-MCQs. Both the type of questions will carry equal marks. Here is CAT Marking Scheme for your reference:

  • Total Questions- 100
  • Total Marks- 300
  • Marks for Each Correct Answer- +3 marks
  • Marks for Each Incorrect Answer- -1 score.
  • Negative Marking for Non-MCQs- No
  • Questions Left Blank- No mark

The table given below provides a brief of the marking scheme, expected to be followed for CAT 2018.

Type of QuestionCorrect AnswerIncorrect AnswerUn-attempted Question


  • Candidates get 60 minutes to complete each section.
  • Even if candidates complete a section before 60 minutes, they cannot switch/ start with the next section.
  • However, candidates can attempt any of the section first and can also answer the questions out of sequence.

CAT Mock Test 2018

The mock test for CAT 2018 will be released by the convening authority around the exam date. CAT 2018 will be held on November 25.

CAT Mock Test is a handy and helpful tool to understand the pattern and difficulty level of questions so that you do not get any surprises in the actual paper. It is advisable to practice CAT 2018 Mock Test along with Previous Year Question Papers as much as possible. 

Most of CAT coaching centers also release their test papers or series for MBA aspirants. Practicing rigorously is the only key to crack CAT exam. Make sure you leave no stone unturned during your preparation strategy.

Changes in CAT Exam Pattern 

Ever since the change of CAT exam mode from offline to online in 2009, the exam has seen several changes in its pattern. Whether it was reducing the number of sections or introduction of non-mcq’s, candidates has surprised most of its test-takers. 

Given below is the trend analysis of CAT paper pattern for the past three years. This will help you predict the expected CAT 2018 Question Paper:

In 2017, no changes in CAT Exam Pattern were observed. The paper was of moderate difficulty level.

Number of Questions343234

In 2016, in Quantitative Ability section, the change in the distribution of questions can be easily seen.

Number of Questions343234

In 2015, there was no particular change in the number of questions in CAT. The distribution of questions is depicted in the table given below-

Number of Questions343234

CAT Exam Day Instructions

To have a better understanding of do’s and don’ts at CAT Exam Day, you may refer to the below video:

CAT Exam Pattern FAQs

Ques. Is CAT an online exam?

Ans. CAT is not an online exam. It is a digital or Computer Based Test (CBT); not an Internet-Based Test (IBT), i.e., a candidate will not take the exam on an internet site.

Ques. Can I take the exam from any computer?

Ans. A candidate will take the exam on a workstation assigned at the test centre.

Ques. Are there negative marks for questions other than MCQs?

Ans.  No, there are no negative marks for non-MCQ type questions.

Ques. How many non-MCQs are there in each section?

Ans. The number of questions varies and cannot be disclosed.

Ques. Is there a specific order for answering sections?

Ans. You must answer the sections in a pre-specified order and this order will remain same for all the candidates.

Ques. What is the time duration of the Exam?

Ans. The time duration is 180 minutes.

Ques. What are the total marks for the CAT 2018 exam?

Ans. The CAT exam total marks are 300.

Ques. What is the language of the CAT 2018 paper?

Ans. The language of CAT 2018 is English.

Ques. What is the difference between the Computer-Based test and Pen-paper Based Test?

Ans. The Computer-based test is where the applicants read the questions on a computer terminal and click on the right answer. In the Pen-Paper based test, the applicants will be provided with a paper booklet and they are needed to use a pencil or pen and darken the ovals against the right answers.

Ques. How to know more about the CBT?

Ans. For more details on the CBT, check out the CAT 2018 Practice tests and the CAT 2018 mock test.

Ques. What are the sections in CAT 2018?

Ans. There are three sections in the CAT 2018 question paper –

Section I – Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension

Section II – Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

Section III – Quantitative Ability.

Ques.  Can I Bring a calculator to the exam?

Ans. No, the applicants are not allowed to bring in any electronic devices to the exam center. An on-screen calculator will be provided in the exam.

Ques.  How many MCQ and Non-MCQ in CAT exam? 

Ans. There are 72 MCQ and 28 Non MCQ Questions.

Verbal and Reading Comprehension241034
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning24832
Quantitative Aptitude27734

Ques. Do the MCQs and non-MCQs carry equal scores?

Ans. Yes, all the questions carry equal scores.

Ques. What is the syllabus for CAT? How should I prepare?

Ans. There is no fixed syllabus for CAT. However, applicants can check the numerous tips provided by professionals or join a coaching Institute. Also, the applicants can also check the numerous CAT preparation tips accessible online.

Ques. What is the marking scheme for CAT? Is there any negative marking?

Ans. For every right answer, the applicants will be awarded 3 marks. However, an insight answer will fetch -1 mark.

Ques. What is the weightage of the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension?

Ans. There are 34 questions for 102 marks for the duration of 60 minutes.

Ques. What is the Weightage of the Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning?

Ans. There are 32 questions for 96 marks for the duration of 60 minutes.

Ques. What is the Weightage of the Quantitative Ability?

Ans. There are 34 questions for 102 marks for the duration of 60 minutes.

Ques. What is the syllabus for Quantitative Ability?

Ans. There are the important topics for quantitative ability:

Linear and Quadratics EquationsTime and WorkInequalities
VariationMensuration and GeometryTime, Speed and Distance
Probability/ Profit or LossSurds and IndicesTables and Case lets
LogarithmsCritical PathAverages and Partnerships
Allegations and MixturesAlgebraPercentage

Ques. What is the CAT Exam Pattern for Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning?

Ans. These are the important topics to cover in Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning:

Bar GraphCase letsSeating ArrangementBlood RelationsStatements
Line GraphCombination of GraphsSyllogismVenn DiagramSets
Pie ChartData SufficiencyPropositionsData ArrangementClocks and Calendars
TablesVenn DiagramPuzzlesAssumptions-

Ques. What is the CAT Exam Pattern for Verbal & Reading Comprehension?

Ans. These are the major topics to cover in Verbal & Reading Comprehension:

Sentence CorrectionWord usage
Fill in the blanksPara Jumble
Para completionFact Inference Judgement

Ques. Is there any help for computation in CAT Exam?

Ans. In order to help applicants with general computations, a non-scientific on-screen calculator is offered. Candidates have to use the mouse to carry out computations on the on-screen calculator.

Ques.  From where can I get the list of exam centers?

Ans. The list of CAT 2018 exam centers will be accessible on the official website from the third week of October 2018. Currently, applicants can see the test cities where CAT 2018 will take place.

Ques. What are the time slots for CAT 2018 exam?

Ans. As per the official announcement, CAT 2018 will be conducted in two sessions or time slots. Applicants will be allotted a singular session time slot on the basis of availability of test center and city of selection.

Ques. Can I appear for more than one slot for CAT 2018?

Ans. No, you cannot appear for in excess of one slot for CAT 2018. In the event that any applicant attempts to appear for CAT 2018 in two distinctive time slots, it would be considered as a fake activity. In order to maintain the distance from any fraudulent activity on this front, CAT 2018 applicants will be subject to verification of Admit Cards, applicant pictures, photo IDs, and biometric verification.

Ques. Where can I select my preference for shift and test date?

Ans. The examination shift (forenoon or afternoon) is distributed to each registered applicant on the basis of the selection of the city which made at the time of application. An applicant cannot select the shift.

Ques. What are the timings to contact the Applicant Helpdesk?

Ans. CAT 2018 help desk is accessible to applicants via telephone from Monday to Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The CAT Applicant Helpdesk is shut on Sundays and on National/Public holidays.

*The article might have information for the previous academic years, which will be updated soon subject to the notification issued by the University/College


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pushpendra singh

Are there any changes in the CAT Exam Pattern?

29 Jul, 2017 14:32
Sakshi Garg Expert

Hi Pushpendra, Currently no update has been released on changes in the exam pattern. But CAT is famous for throwing surprises in the exam pattern which is not even notified before the exam. In the case of any release of notification, the same will be updated on our website. For more details, click hereDetails

29 Jul, 2017 16:05
Yashika Goel

Can I Bring a calculator to the exam?

29 Jul, 2017 14:30
Sakshi Garg Expert

Hi Yashika, No calculator is allowed in the exam hall. However, a virtual calculator would be provided for the calculation work.

29 Jul, 2017 14:45
Vivek Bansal

What are the sections in CAT 2017?

29 Jul, 2017 14:25
Sakshi Garg Expert

Hi Vivek, There are 3 sections in the CAT 2017 exam:

  • Section I: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
  • Section II: Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning
  • Section III: Quantitative Ability

29 Jul, 2017 15:00
Ruby Goyal

Where can I fill the form for a scribe/reader?

29 Jul, 2017 13:29
Sakshi Garg Expert

Hi Ruby, At the time of filling the application form, you have to indicate that you will be using a service of the scribe. Under the physical disability section, you need to fill the details regarding the requirement of a scribe.

29 Jul, 2017 15:09

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