CAT 2019 Exam Pattern, Marks Distribution, Syllabus

Updated On - November 6th 2019 by AANCHAL THAKUR

CAT exam pattern has undergone changes over the years. For the past 3 years it has remained constant in terms of marks and number of questions asked.  As per the revised pattern, CAT 2019 will consist of 100 questions divided into 3 sections. It will test candidate’s verbal ability, data interpretation, logical reasoning and quantitative aptitude skills. A total of 100 MCQ and Non-MCQ type questions will be asked. The duration of exam will be of 3 hours and each section will be alloted 1 hour time limit. 

CAT 2019 Exam Pattern Updates

Latest: CAT 2019 Mock Test was released on October 16, 2019. Check Here 

  • CAT 2019 will be held on 24 November 2019.
  • Cat Syllabus is divided into three major portions: Verbal & Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning, and Quantitative Aptitude Check CAT 2019 Syllabus
  • Total 100 questions for 300 marks will be asked in exam. 
  • Each section will contain Non-MCQ questions, that are to be directly typed.
  • Unlike GMAT, CAT doesn’t have a descriptive question for e.g. analytical writing assessment Check CAT vs GMAT
  • No option will be given to move between sections. 
  • An on-screen calculator will be provided. 
  • The marking scheme for this year will remain the same: +3 for a correct answer and -1 for a wrong answer. Check  CAT Score Calculation
  • According to the previous year papers, Collegedunia has created a model paper for CAT 2019  

Download Free CAT Sample Papers

CAT 2019 Exam Pattern Key Highlights

Total Number of Questions100
Total Marks300
Number of Sections3 (Verbal & Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning, and Quantitative Aptitude)
Duration of Exam180 minutes (60 minutes per section)
Medium of ExamEnglish
Number of Answer Choices4
Mode of ExamOnline
CAT Marking Scheme+3 marks for the correct answer -1 mark for an incorrect answer
Questions with Negative MarkingMCQs-70 to 75
Questions without Negative MarkingNON-MCQs- 25 to 30

Score Better with CAT 2019 Preparation Tips

As per the analysis for CAT 2019 by Collegedunia team, DILR is expected to be the toughest, VARC to be moderate and QA should be the easiest. An attempt at total 63-67 will be considered reasonable. CAT has a success rate of 1 in 200.

Check CAT Exam Cutoff

CAT 2019 exam pattern

CAT 2019 Section Wise Exam Pattern

SectionTotal questionsNumber of MCQ questionsNumber of Non-MCQ questions
Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VARC)34 (RC-24, VA-10)


Quantitative Aptitude (Quant)3422-2410-12
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)32 (DI-16, LR-16)248

Also Check CAT Marking Scheme

CAT Exam Pattern 2019 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 34 questions in this section. 
  • They will be further divided into 27 MCQ & 7 Non-MCQs

Quantitative Aptitude sub-section exam pattern

Sub SectionNumber of Questions
Arithmetic14 questions
Algebra9 questions
Geometry7 questions
Number System2 questions
Modern Maths2 questions

Syllabus for Quantitative Aptitude 

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
Allegations and MixturesAlgebraPercentage

Check How to Prepare Quantitative Aptitude for CAT?

CAT 2018 Exam Pattern Analysis for Quantitative Aptitude

The quantitative ability section of CAT 2018 was quite lengthy, but candidates with mathematics background did not face many difficulties in getting through with it. Geometry was given more weightage this year. The overall difficulty level of the exam was moderate.

Following are the highlights of Cat 2018 QA section:

  • There were only 7 Non MCQ questions, nearly half than last year’s CAT exam
  • The square root symbol looked more like the pie symbol; this caused confusion.
  • Questions from the topics – Compound Interest, Coordinate Geometry, geometry, Mixture and Allegation, 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

Important study material/ books for Quantitative

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

Related News

CAT Exam Pattern 2019 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.

Read Best Books for CAT Preparation 2019

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 2018 Exam Pattern 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 a problem in completing this section. The trick to scoring 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 the following topics:
  1. Line Chart
  2. Table Chart
  3. Set Theory
  4. Arrangement
  5. Cube-Based Sets

Read CAT Paper Analysis for DI

CAT Books for Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

CAT reasoning books

Books for CAT ExamAuthor Name/PublisherISBN Number
CAT 2019 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 2019 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 language usage and their rules are also expected to appear in the exam. Testing the understanding of basic grammar is also a 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.

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Sub Section Exam Pattern

Sub SectionNumber of Questions
Reading Comprehension24
Sentence Correction3
Para Jumble4

Syllabus for Verbal and Reading Comprehension

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

CAT 2018 Paper Analysis for VA/RC

  • 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 2019

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 Sinha933257002

Check 5 Recommended Magazines for CAT Preparation 2019

Commonly Asked Questions

What is the difficulty level of CAT?

Difficulty level in CAT varies from section to section. Going by the trend Verbal Reasoning and Reading Comprehension are easy to moderate, Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning is on the tougher side whereas Quantitative Aptitude is moderate. The overall difficulty level of the exam is moderate. The amount of competition candidate faces in CAT makes it difficult to crack.

Does CAT exam pattern vary from year to year?

CAT exam pattern has changed over the years but since past 3 years it has been constant. CAT 2019 will have 3 sections Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC-34 questions), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR-32 questions), Quantitative Ability (QA-34 questions). Though the number of questions may slightly vary from year to year.

CAT 2019 Marking Scheme

CAT will have two types of questions– MCQs and Non-MCQs. Both the type of questions will carry equal marks. Here is the 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 2019.

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.

Changes in CAT exam pattern over the years 2015-2018

Ever since the change of CAT exam mode from offline to online in 2009, the exam has seen several changes in its pattern. Given below is the trend analysis of the CAT paper pattern for the past three years. This will help you predict the expected CAT 2019 Question Paper:

  • In 2018 Non-MCQ questions in total increased to 27 as compared to 26 in 2017.
  • Reading Comprehension were reduced to 4 from 5, each passage having 5 questions.
  • Quant had a good number of 12 Non-MCQ’s. Arithmetic questions were given a good weightage.
  • Some of the Non-MCQ questions had options also, with space provided to write the correct option.

With computer based test introduced in 2009. CAT exam pattern has undergone several changes. Prior to 2009 the exam was held in pen-paper mode. Since past 4 years the paper pattern has not gone under major alterations.

Year of ExamNumber of QuestionsVARCDILRQuantLevel of DifficultyAnalysis
CAT 2018100VARC-34 RC-24 (MCQs Only) VA-10 (2 MCQs and 7 NON-MCQs)DILR-32 DI-16 LR-16 MCQs-24 NON-MCQs-8Quant-34 MCQs-22 NON-MCQs-12Moderate to high

Same pattern like last year.

Canges in number of MCQ and NON-MCQ question in sections

CAT 2017100VARC-34 RC-24 (All MCQs) VA-10 (3 MCQs and 7 non MCQs)DILR-32 DI-16 LR-16, MCQs-24 NON-MCQ-8Quant-34 MCQ-23 Non-MCQs-11Moderate

Same pattern like last year.

Changes in number of NON-MCQ questions

CAT 2016100VARC-34 RC-24 (MCQ) VA-10 (NON-MCQs only )DILR-32 DI-16 LR-16, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8Quant-34 MCQ-27 Non-MCQs-7Moderate to difficult

Same pattern like last year.

NON-MCQ in quant reduced

CAT 2015100VARC -34 RC-24 (MCQs) VA-10 (Non MCQs)DILR-32 DI-16 LR-16 MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8Quant-34, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-10Moderate to difficult

Time limit increased to 180 minutes.

Sectional time restriction of 1 hour.

NON-MCQs with no negative marking

CAT Topper's Section Wise Preparation Strategy

Swapnil Suman scored 100 percentile in CAT 2018. His section wise strategy is as follows:

VARC- He read fiction and non-fiction text to improve reading speed, vocabulary and grammar. He also went for reading The Hindu newspaper and watched video solutions by TIME mocks.

DILR- Swapnil says solving puzzles and regular practice will make this section interesting.

Quant- It was an easy section for him as he belonged to engineering background. He went for tricks and revised the concepts often.

Manaswi Kumar scored 99.14 percentile in CAT 2018 . Here are some insights on his sectional preparation strategy:

VARC- He noted down 21 new words everyday, read newspapers and novels in addition.

DILR- Mock test proved to be helpful to him for preparing this section. He constantly reviewed his preparation level through practice tests.

Quant- He went for doubt clearing sessions and consulted previous year question papers to master quants.

Also Read: CAT 2018 Topper Siddhant Dhawan’s Success Mantra

CAT Mock Test 2019

A month before the main Exam, IIM Kozhikode which is conducting CAT 2019 will provide the facility of Mock Test in order to provide an idea to the candidates about to appear in the exam about the online exam pattern details and the way to answer in exam. CAT 2019 will be held on 24 November 2019.

It is advisable to practice 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.

CAT Exam Pattern FAQs

Ques.: When will CAT 2019 take place?

Ans. CAT 2019 will be conducted on 24 November 2019. the application process is open and candidates can fill the forms till 18 September 2019. CheckCAT 2019 Application Process

Ques.: Who will be conducting CAT 2019?

Ans. IIM Kozhikode will conduct CAT 2019 on 24 November 2019. Application forms were made available on 7 August 2019 and candidates can fill up CAT 2019 application form till 18 September 2019.

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.: Is there any change in CAT 2019 exam pattern?

Ans. As per the official notification released by IIM Kozhikode there is no major change in CAT 2019 exam pattern and syllabus. The pattern will be same as last year. The difficulty level and number of questions in each section may vary and not necessarily be the same as in previous years. Check DetailedCAT Exam Pattern

Ques.: Can I take the exam from any computer?

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

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 as Non-MCQs may vary in each section. Generally- VARC has 7 Non-MCQs and 27 MCQs, DILR has 8 Non-MCQs and 24 MCQs whereas Quants ahs 12 Non-MCQs and 22 MCQs

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 the 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 2019 exam?

Ans. The CAT exam total marks are 300.

Ques.: What is the language of the CAT 2019 paper?

Ans. The language of CAT 2019 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 2019 Practice tests and the CAT 2019 mock test.

Ques.: What are the sections in CAT 2019?

Ans. There are three sections in the CAT 2019 question paper –

Section I – Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension

Section II – Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

Section III – Quantitative Ability. CheckCAT Syllabus

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 Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension?

Ans. There are 34 questions for 102 marks for 60 minutes.

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

Ans. There are 32 questions for 96 marks for 60 minutes.

Ques.: What is the Weightage of Quantitative Ability?

Ans. There are 34 questions for 102 marks for 60 minutes.

Ques.: What is the syllabus for Quantitative Ability?

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

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

Ans. The list of CAT 2019 exam centers will be accessible on the official website Currently, applicants can see the test cities where CAT 2019 will take place.

Ques.: What are the time slots for the CAT 2019 exam?

Ans. As per the official announcement, CAT 2019 will be conducted in two sessions or time slots. Applicants will be allotted a single session time slot based on the availability of test center and city of selection.

Ques.: Can I appear for more than one slot for CAT 2019?

Ans. No, you cannot appear for more than one slot for CAT 2019. If any applicant attempts to appear for CAT 2019 in two distinctive time slots, it would be considered as a fraudulent activity. To maintain the distance from any fraudulent activity on this front, CAT 2019 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 based on 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 2019 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 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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