Aspirant's Guide to CAT Exam: Syllabus, Registration, Exam Dates, Eligibility, Pattern, Preparation (2021)

Calender Icon CAT Exam Date: 28th Nov 2021

Common Admission Test (CAT) is a competitive management entrance exam. It is conducted at the national level. CAT 2021 is conducted for admissions in following courses for the 20 IIMs –

  • Post Graduate Programmes in Management (PGP)
  • Fellow Programmes in Management (FPM) [Doctoral]

There are around hundred CAT participating institutions. The various management institutions are pan-India.

CAT 2021 exam is an important entrance exam for MBA aspirants. CAT Notification has been out 31st July 2021. CAT 2021 exam will be conducted on 28th November 2021.

Even when the exam conducting body for CAT changes, the dates have mostly been the last Sunday of November. Keeping this trend in mind, CAT 2021 exam will be on November 28, 2021.

CAT Exam

CAT Exam Date

CAT 2021

November 28, 2021

CAT 2020

November 29, 2020

CAT 2019

November 24, 2019

CAT 2018

November 25, 2018

CAT 2017

November 26, 2017

CAT 2021 will have 3 sections –

  1. Quantitative Aptitude
  2. Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning
  3. Verbal Ability Reading Comprehension (VARC).

The CAT 2021 exam tests a candidate –

  • quantitative skills
  • analytical skills
  • language skills
  • comprehension skills.

CAT 2021 is computer-based test. Since 2009 the CAT exam is conducted online. It is expected that aspirants have basic computer operating skills. They should be able to manage the speed and time because the duration of the CAT 2021 exam is 120 minutes or 2 hours.

Check out this interesting video. It gives a clear understating of the CAT test day guidelines - CAT Test Day Guidelines

CAT Study Material- The Complete Guide [2021 Book PDF]

CAT 2021 Exam Details

CAT 2021 Exam Mode

Online or Computer-Based Exam

CAT 2021 Exam Duration

2 Hours or 120 minutes

CAT 2021 Maximum Marks


CAT 2021 Exam Sections

  1. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)
  2. Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)
  3. Quantitative Ability (QA)

CAT 2021 Exam Sections Questions




CAT 2021 Sectional Time Limit

VARC – 40 Minutes

DILR – 40 Minutes

QA – 40 Minutes

CAT 2021 Maximum Questions


CAT 2021 Question Type

Multiple Choice Questions 

Non – MCQs or TITA (Type in The Answer)

CAT 2021 Marking Scheme

Correct Answer: +3

Incorrect Answer (MCQs): -1

Incorrect Answer (Non-MCQs): No Negative Marking

CAT 2021 Exam Slots

Single Day Session:

3 Slots

CAT 2021 test centres are spread across 150+ test cities. Candidates have the option to select any four test cities in order of their preference. Test site is allotted after the last date of registration over. It will be one among the four preferred test cities.

Until 2013, CAT exam was held over a 15 to 20 day long testing window. Starting 2014, the IIMs shortened the CAT testing window. It was reduced to a single day.

CAT 2021 exam will be conducted in three sessions in a single day. The session is mentioned in the CAT 2021 Admit Card.

CAT 2021 Important Dates

Notification release date

31st July 2021

Registration commencement

4th August 2021

Last date for Online Registration

15th September 2021

Issue of Admit Card

27th Oct - 28th Nov 2021

CAT 2021 Exam date

28th November 2021

Result Announcement

2nd week of January 2022

Eligibility for CAT Exam 2021

CAT 2021 Eligibility - Complete Details

The Candidates wanting to appear for CAT Exam 2021, must fulfil the following Eligibility Criteria:

  1. The candidate must hold a Bachelor’s Degree in any discipline. They should have minimum of 50% marks, or equivalent CGPA.
  2. The candidates belonging to the reserved categories – Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST), and Differently Abled (DA) – need minimum 45% marks.
  3. Candidate who have graduated in the old system of the 2 years graduation, is allowed to appear for CAT 2021. The degree must be UGC recognized.
  4. Final year Graduation students can also apply for CAT 2021. If selected, these students will be allowed to join the Programme provisionally. He/she must submit a certificate from the Principal/Registrar of the College. It should state that the candidate has fulfilled all the requirements of obtaining the Bachelor’s Degree, or equivalent qualification on the date of the issue of the certificate.

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CAT Exam Pattern 2021

CAT question paper is a computer-based exam. It tests a candidate across three sections –

  1. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)
  2. Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DI & LR)
  3. Quantitative Ability (QA).

IIM Indore has announced the major changes in exam pattern, the total test duration is reduced 2 hours.

Get Detailed Pattern and Procedure for CAT 2021 Exam 

The Sectional Marks and Time distribution, for CAT 2021 is given in the Table below:

CAT 2021 Exam Sections

CAT 2021 Exam Questions

CAT 2021 Time Allotted (In Minutes)

CAT 2021 Maximum Marks Allotted

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)




Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DI & LR)




Quantitative Ability (QA)








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CAT 2021 Exam Format

  1. Duration of the examination is 2 hours or 120 minutes.
  2. Some questions in each section (Quantitative Ability, Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning and Verbal and Reading Comprehension) are non-multiple-choice type. Direct answers must be typed on the screen.
  3. Candidates are allowed to use basic on-screen calculator.
  4. Candidates will be allotted exactly 40 minutes for answering questions. Sectional jump is not allowed.
  5. The on-screen timer will mark remaining minutes for the test.
  6. Trend suggests 25 percent questions are Non MCQs and 75% are MCQs.
  7. The Non MCQs will have no-negative penalty.
  8. Three (3) points will be awarded for each correct answer; one (1) point will be deducted for each wrong answer.
  9. There is no penalty for questions that are left unanswered.
  10. The candidate is not allowed to leave the examination in between.

CAT Exam Syllabus 2021

CAT 2021 includes 3 sections. CAT 2021 does not have a predefined syllabus. However, CAT syllabus and questions paper covers below topics:

  1. Section: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)

Topics: Critical Reasoning; Paragraph Forming; Grammar Vocabulary Synonyms, Antonyms , Odd Man Out, Analogies; Reading Comprehension etc.

  1. Section: Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)

Topics: Tables; Graphical Representations; Charts and any diagrammatical Representation- Bar Charts, Pie Charts, Cases, X-Y Charts involving Line Series etc.

  1. Section: Quantitative Ability (QA)

Topics: GeometryTrigonometryProbability; Number System- GCD, LCM, Divisibility, Base System, The Remainder Theorem; Permutation & Combination; Speed; Time and Distance; etc.

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CAT Exam 2021 Marking Scheme

CAT 2021 Exam Duration

120 Minutes

CAT 2021 Exam Sections

Three Sections

1. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)

2. Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)

  1. Quantitative ability (QA)

CAT 2021 Marking Scheme

  1. MCQ / Non-MCQ Correct Answer: +3
  2. MCQ Incorrect Answer: - 1
  3. Non-MCQ Incorrect Answer: No Negative Marking
  4. No marks are given or deducted for un-attempted questions.

CAT 2021 Registration/Application Process

CAT 2021 Registration is an online process. There is no offline registration facility available for CAT 2021 exam.  The CAT 2021 Application Form is part of the CAT 2021 Registration form. The candidates can apply for CAT 2021 online.

A CAT registration id is generated after the completion of online registration of CAT 2021. The unique CAT 2021 Registration ID enables the candidates to log in. They can fill the CAT 2021 exam online application form. It is a combined CAT 2021 Online Registration and Application Form process.

The Registration and Application Form for CAT 2021 requires the candidates to fill up following details:

  • Academic Details
  • Photograph
  • Scanned Signature
  • Category certificates (for category candidates as prescribed by the IIMs)

In case the candidates make errors in filling the CAT 2021 Application Form it cannot be rectified. The candidates must re-register in that case.

The Online Application Form for CAT has Programme details on all the 20 IIMs. The candidates filling up the CAT 2021 Online Application can mark the relevant Programmes as per their interest.

Over the last decade, the CAT registration trend has been as below:

CAT 2009

2.42 Lakhs

CAT 2010

2.06 Lakhs

CAT 2011

2.05 Lakhs

CAT 2012

2.14 Lakhs

CAT 2013

1.95 Lakhs

CAT 2014

1.70 Lakhs

CAT 2015

2.18 Lakhs

CAT 2016

2.32 Lakhs

CAT 2017

2.31 Lakhs

CAT 2018

2.41 Lakhs

CAT 2019

2.44 Lakhs

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Steps to Apply for CAT 2021 Online

  1. The candidate must log on to the official website for CAT 2021:
  2. The candidate must register with a valid Email ID and Phone Number.
  3. Application fee for Foreign candidates is $125 (+ Bank charges as applicable)
  4. The IIM conducting bdy sends the Login Credentials via mail or SMS to the candidates.
  5. On receiving the Login credentials, the candidates must log in the Application window. Fill up the Online CAT 2021 Application Form. Details required are:
    1. Personal Details
    2. Contact Details
    3. Academic Details
    4. Work Experience
    5. Selection of IIMs to apply for
    6. Selecting the Test Centers and the Interview Cities
  6. Upload the necessary documents with the form:
    1. Scanned copy of Candidate’s Photograph in jpeg format
    2. Scanned copy of Candidate’s Signature in jpeg format
  7. The candidates must ensure that Photograph and the Signature are clear and appropriate.
  8. It is advisable for the candidates to review the Application Form.

CAT 2021 Application Fees

Candidates must pay application fee online. Complete and save the CAT 2021 Application Form. Click on the PAY tab. Pay the CAT 2021 Application Fee via Credit Card, Debit Card, Net Banking, ATM-cum-Debit Cards, Cash Card & Wallet.

  1. The CAT 2021 Registration Fee for the General Category is INR 2200.
  2. The CAT 2021 Reserved Category (SC, ST, PwD) is INR 1100.

CAT 2021 Mock Test

Candidates can write the official CAT 2021 mock test. A test link is published on the official website

There is separate mock test link available for PwD candidates with low vision. Check out the link here - CAT Mock Test For PwD Candidates.

CAT 2021 Admit Card

CAT 2021 Admit Card is a mandatory document. It must be carried on the day of exam to the CAT Examination Hall

CAT 2021 Admit Card is issued by the IIM conducting body. It is available on the official CAT 2021 website. NO hard copy of the CAT 2021 Admit Card will be sent to any candidate.

To download the Admit Card, the candidate must log in to the official Website- Take print out of the CAT 2021 Admit Card. The Admit Card is available for download till the exam day

The Admit Card will be released from 27th October to 28th November.

Steps to download, CAT 2021 Admit Card:

  1. Log on to the official website of the Indian Institute of Management-
  2. Click on the ‘Download ADMIT CARD 2021’ tab.
  3. Enter login credentials.
  4. Review all the details on CAT 2021 hall ticket.
  5. After reviewing click on the Download Admit Card Tab
  6. Save and Print the CAT 2021 Admit Card
  7. Preserve it till the examination day.
  8. CAT 2021 Admit Card will contain the following details:
    • The candidate’s name, as entered in the registration/application form of CAT 2021.
    • The Examination date of CAT 2021, along with the slot of exam.
    • The candidate’s User ID/Registration Number.
    • The candidate’s Test System Number. It is an important information. The candidate is authorized to use only the allotted test system. It will display the candidate’s particulars.
    • The CAT Exam 2021 Test Centre address
    • The candidate’s PWA/DA Status.
  9. Candidate must carry a photo ID Proof to the Examination Hall. Only CAT 2021 Admit Card and a valid photo ID Proof is allowed inside the Examination Hall.
  10. The Candidate must report 90 minutes before the CAT 2021 exam.

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CAT Exam 2021 Test Centres

CAT 2021 is conducted for admissions to MBA/PGDM Programmes in 20 Indian Institute of Managements, and more than hundred participating management institutions in India.


Get Complete Info on CAT Exam Centres

Candidates can select up to 4 preferred cities from the drop-down menu. The authorities allot an exam center in the city of the candidate’s first preference. In case it is available the next preferred city is allotted.

On a rational basis candidate must register as soon as the Registration Form is released.

Exam State

Exam Cities

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Port Blair

Andhra Pradesh

Chittoor, Kurnool, Nellore, Tirupati, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam

Arunachal Pradesh



Dibrugarh, Guwahati


Aurangabad, Gaya, Muzaffarpur, Patna, Purnea




Raipur, Bhillai


New Delhi


Madgaon, Verna


Ahmedabad, Anand, Gandhinagar, Rajkot, Surat, Vadodara


Ambala, Bahadurgarh, Faridabad, Gurgaon, Palwal, Panipath, Rohtak, Sonipath

Himachal Pradesh


Jammu and Kashmir



Dhanbad, Jamshedpur, Ranchi


Belgaum, Bengaluru, Bidar, Chikballapur, Davanagere, Hasan, Kolar, Mandya, Mangalore, Mysore, Ramnagara, Shimoga, Tumkur, Udupi


Kasaragod, Kochi, Kollam, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Thrissur, Trivandrum

Madhya Pradesh

Bhopal, Gwalior, Indore, Jabalpur, Sagar


Ahmednagar, Amravati, Aurangabad, Jalgaon, Kolhapur, Mumbai, Nagpur, Nanded, Nashik, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Ratnagiri, Satara, Solapur, Thane




Balasore, Berhampur, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Rourkela, Sambalpur




Fatehgarh Sahib, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Mohali, Pathankot, Patiala, Ropar, Sangrur


Ajmer, Alwar, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Kota, Sikar, Udaipur

Tamil Nadu

Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Namakkal, Thanjavur, Tiruchirappalli, Tirunelvelli


Hyderabad, Karim Nagar, Khammam

Uttar Pradesh

Agra, Allahabad, Bareilly, Ghaziabad, Gorakhpur, Greater Noida, Kanpur, Lucknow, Mathura, Meerut, Noida, Varanasi


Dehradun, Roorkee

West Bengal

Asansol, Burdwan, Durgapur, Hooghly, Howrah, Kalyani, Kolkata, Siliguri

CAT 2021 Result

The Result of CAT 2021 is sent to the candidates in the percentile format. CAT score can be received via SMS as well.

CAT 2021 Score cards are available online. Candidates can check CAT 2021 result by logging in to the official website-  The portal can be accessed via unique IDs and Passwords.

The steps to download the Scorecard is as follows:

  1. The candidate must Log in with his/her respective credentials, on the official website:
  2. Click on ‘Download Score Card for CAT 2021’.
  3. ‘Login to View/Download Application Form/Scorecard’ tab on the Website.
  4. The candidate is then be directed to the Results Portal, where he/she shall fill in his/her Login credentials.
  5. The respective result will appear on the screen, which can be downloaded and saved by the candidate for future use.

The Scorecard of CAT 2021 Result, will bear the following information:

  1. Scores section-wise
  2. Overall scaled percentiles.

CAT 2021 Result will only be Online. IIM conducting body will not send any hard copy of the CAT 2021 Score cards. 

CAT 2021 Percentile Prediction

Percentile represents the rank of the candidate in an examination. It is relative to the rest of the candidates who appeared for the same examination, in the same time frame.

For example, there were 10 students who gave an exam, including you. If you ranked 1st, then there are 9 students behind you. 90% of the test-takers are ranked after you. This implies you have 90 percentile score. If you stood 3rd, then there are 7 test-takers ranked after you. You will have a 70%tile score in this case.

Similarly, if 1000 people appeared, including yourself. You ranked 75th, then there were effectively 925 test-takers who were ranked below you. As they scored lesser marks than you did. In this case, your percentile score will be:

(925/1000) x 100 = 92.5 percentile.

If 2,00,000 people appear for CAT exam in a certain year. The net score for all candidates will be calculated. All test-takers will be sorted in descending order of their marks in CAT. If you rank 1,500 your percentile score will be:

(198500/200000) x 100 = 99.25 %tile.

CAT Previous Year Exam Analysis

After the completion of the CAT 2021 exam, the CAT convener provided slot-wise statistics on the total number of candidates appearing for the exam.




Present %

Candidates Absent

Shift 1





Shift 2





Shift 3











List of Courses Offered under CAT 2021


CAT 2021 Exam Preparation

Everyone aspires to be enrolled in the IIMs and other top MBA Institutes. A decent percentile and a strong profile can help you get into the IIMs. Preparing for CAT 2021 exam is not as tricky as it sounds.

CAT is a tough exam. It requires sound conceptual knowledge and a positive attitude. The pattern for CAT exam is consistent. However, the difficulty level varies. Competitiveness of CAT is augmented with negative marking. For every incorrect answer, one mark is deducted.

Each of three section comes with its own set of challenges. A few points to keep in mind while planning and preparing for CAT 2021:

  1. Go in with a pre-decided strategy of the order in which you will attempt the sections. The best bet is to start with the section you are most comfortable with - Quantitative Ability, Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning or Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension.
  2. Make sure you set a time limit for each question. If a question is time consuming, skip it. Come back later if you have time. The overall time for each section is same i.e. 60 minutes.
  3. The Non-MCQs have no negative marking. But they can be tricky. Make sure you attempt all. There is nothing to lose even if your answer is incorrect.
  4. Practice using mock tests. They are a clear reflection of how well you are prepared.
  5. Spend time solving RCs, DI and LR sets on a daily basis.

Top 20 tips for CAT 2021 Exam Preparation | Beginners and Toppers
Tips for Reading Comprehension Combination

Life at IIMs

It is said that there is just one life and it changes its dimensions as per the surroundings and circumstances. It is you, who needs to adapt and change your life as you wish so.

Life at IIM is no different from all so-called nuisances of life but positively, the moment you realize that you are at the Gurukul of management teachings, you go ahead with day dreaming and that really puts you on cloud 9. Invariably you attend classes in embedded format of learning 24 x7 x 18 months. You dream day and night of learning.

Right in the morning after having a quick breakfast at the mess, you are in the class room by 8.30 am to deliberate on issues on a case study which would have been given by the professor last night at 11 pm. Process of deliberations on pros and cons continue till mid night and you surely get time to place yourself in learning the resources of IIM, wherein you watch inspiring / motivational videos.

At all IIMs, the libraries have been aptly named as learning resource centers and are equipped with latest books, journals, latest happenings at corporates, movements of top honchos, Brands etc.

You get time to share your concerns with your companions of growth at the campus and you too recreate yourself with sports amenities available in the campus. The best part of the life at IIM is that you are able to listen live top Honchos, practically who is who of the various industries and indeed that is one of the exceptional parts of learning which sparks you to go ahead and nourish your dreams of becoming one day like them.

How to secure an MBA scholarship ?

Scholarships for MBA students are available for those who deserve monetary support but can avail under various schemes which are predetermined under Institute's prerogative but have easy approach with intent to help deserving students.

Financial assistance under aegis of Scholarship can be need based and also for bright students who can avail from Alumni or Industry besides under government rules for certain categories.

Since scholarship is financial assistance hence, one has to find rules and regulation which vary from institution wise. it is better not only to visit websites of institute but to meet admission head and apply for scholarship eligibility wise in time.

CAT Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ1. Is CAT preparation as tough as GMAT?
Ans. The CAT and GMAT syllabus are similar. Click here to check out. The difficulty level of any exam is subjective. However, many students find CAT tougher than GMAT.

FAQ2. What courses can I apply with CAT 2021 score:
Ans. The list of courses offered at IIMs are:
In addition, you can also apply for other PGDM, MBA courses offered by a 100 other b-schools. Check list of CAT participating colleges here

FAQ3. How can I get in touch with CAT authorities if I have any queries?
Ans. Toll-free number: 1-800-266-3549 | Email

FAQ4. What items must be taken to CAT 2021 exam center?
Ans. You are advised to carry the following items ONLY:

  1. CAT 2021 Admit Card Print Out
  2. Valid Photo Id Proof.

Nothing else can be taken inside.

FAQ5. When will the CAT 2021 Notification be out?
Ans. The CAT 2021 notification is out on 31st July 2021.

FAQ6. Does CAT 2021 accept transgender applicants?
Ans. Yes. Starting 2015 CAT authorities updated the CAT eligibility criteria. It now accepts transgender candidates as well.

FAQ7. Are there any reservations for the CAT 2021 exam.
Ans. As per the legal requirements, 15% of the seats are reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) and 7.5% for Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates. 27% of the seats are reserved for Other Backward Classes candidates belonging to the “non-creamy” layer (NC-OBC). Up to 10% of the seats are reserved for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) candidates. Click here to find out more.

FAQ8. Can I take digital admit card for CAT 2021?
Ans. No. You need to carry a print out of the CAT 2021 admit card. You must also carry a valid photo id proof.

FAQ9. What is the marking scheme for CAT 2021?
Ans. The marking scheme for CAT 2021 is:

MCQ Correct Answer: +3

MCQ Incorrect Answer: -1

Non-MCQ Correct Answer: +3

Non-MCQ Incorrect Answer: 0

Any Unanswered Question: 0

FAQ10. What is the don’ts to be followed on the CAT 2021 exam day?
Ans. As per the official website, candidates must:

  1. Avoid attempting to appear for CAT 2021 Exam more than once. Candidature will be cancelled if a candidate is found to appear for the test multiple times.
  2. Do not request entry into the Test Centre post 8:45 a.m. for the Forenoon Session and post 2:15 p.m. for the Afternoon Session.
  3. Do not carry any prohibited items such as electronic gadgets etc. inside the Exam Lab.
  4. Do not attempt to cheat or copy answers from others during the Exam
  5. Do not involve yourself in any arguments with other Candidates or Test center staff. Decisions of concerned authority will be treated as final on the test day.
  6. Do not use the keyboard at any point of time; this will lock your computer system.
  7. Do not disturb other Candidates.
  8. Do not request for a bio-break while inside the Exam Lab unless it is a Medical emergency.
  9. Do not have friends and relatives accompany you beyond the Test Centre gate.
  10. Do not request for change of Test Centre/Exam Lab/Console on the Exam Day.
  11. Do not wear any jewellery (or any item(s) containing metal), jackets and footwear inside the Exam Lab.
  12. Do not use Mobile phones, Electronic Gadgets, Watches, Calculators, own Stationery items, Wallets, and/or Goggles.
  13. Do not provoke any other Candidate to commit or participate in any form of malpractice.
  14. Do not waste Writing pad pages as it is distributed only once per Candidate the during course of the Exam. Do not carry any page from the Writing Pad outside the Exam Lab after the test.

FAQ11. What are the important test day instructions for CAT 2021?
Ans. Please click on the link - CAT 2021 Test Day Instructions. This PDF gives all important information you need to follow on the day of the CAT 2021 exam.

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