4 out of 5
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Common Admission Test or CAT is a national level conducted by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) for admission to its 20 campuses. The CAT exam scores are accepted by over a 1000 business schools across the country for admission to their MBA/PGDM programmes. CAT is an online exam conducted once a year (in the last week of November or first week of December) at about 4000 exam centres in 140+ cities across the country.


CAT exam is conducted by the IIMs on rotational basis. In 2018 it was conducted by IIM Calcutta. CAT 2019 is likely to be held by IIM Kozhikode


The CAT exam tests the candidates on his/her general aptitude, mathematical abilities and problem-solving skills, essential for a manager. The CAT question paper includes questions from Quantitative Aptitude (QA), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) and Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension.


Overview of the CAT exam pattern:

SubjectsQuantitative Aptitude (QA), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) and Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension
Number of sections3
Total number of questions100
Total marks300
Exam modeOnline
Exam duration180 minutes
Question typeMCQs and Key-in answers
Negative markingYes
Difficulty levelHigh


Who can appear for CAT?

Any candidate who wishes to make a career in the field of management or set up their own business can apply for CAT exam. The minimum eligibility criteria is Graduation.

CAT Eligibility Criteria:

●        The candidate must possess a bachelor’s degree in any stream with at least 50% marks or equivalent CGPA (45% for SC, ST and PWD/DA category) from a recognized board or university

●        The candidate must have completed professional degree (CA/CS/ICWA) with required percentage

●        Candidates appearing for the final year of bachelor’s degree/equivalent qualification or awaiting result are also eligible to apply for CAT

●        Percentage obtained in bachelor’s degree would be calculated on the basis of practice followed by the concerned university/institution. In case of grades/CGPA, the conversion would be based on the process defined by the concerned university/ institution. In absence of any percentage conversion scheme, candidate’s CGPA will be divided by maximum possible CGPA and multiplying the result with 100

●        There is no age limit for appearing in the CAT exam

Reservation criteria for IIMs and other institutes accepting CAT scores

15% of the seats are reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) and 7.5% for Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates. 27% of seats are reserved for Other Backward Classes candidates belonging to the “non-creamy” layer (NC-OBC). 5% seats are reserved for Persons with Benchmark Disabilities (PwD).

Since the CAT exam is open for candidates from all streams of education, the number of participants is quite high. On an average, over 2 lakh candidates take the exam every year, which includes graduates, undergraduates in their final year as well as working professionals. Given the competition and the difficulty level of the exam, it is imperative for an aspirant to plan about it in advance, about a year before.

Although it is up to the aspirant that when he/she is ready for CAT, appearing in it while still in the final year of graduation has its own advantages.

Starting Course

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After Intro

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