Latest CAT Exam Syllabus

Posted By : Ria , on 21 Jan, 2021

First, you need to know that CAT exam Syllabus is not something released by the IIMs. However,by analysing the previous years’ CAT exams pattern and question sets, we can get an idea of what to expect and how to start with the preparation.

Let’s understand the Syllabus of CAT.

The CAT syllabus remains the same every year, but the distribution of questions within each section of the test varies every year. CAT syllabus is basically divided into three sections, each carrying a different weightage. Although the syllabus is divided into three sections, practically speaking, the DILR and VARC have two sub-sections each, making the total number of sections five.

  •     Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC) (34%)
  •     Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) (32%)
  •     Quantitative Ability (QA) (34%) 

Let’s go deeper:

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC) (34%)

VARC is the first section of the CAT Exam and is to be solved first. It is one of the tougher sections of CAT, and in order to score well, you need to have good command on vocabulary and language comprehension. CAT Syllabus 2021 would be divided into two sections – Reading comprehension and Verbal Ability. Total questions in this section are 34 out of which 10 questions are of Non-MCQ type which do not carry negative marking. The 34% weightage of VARC syllabus is divided into 24% to reading comprehension section and 10% to Verbal ability syllabus.

Syllabus for VARC:

  • Grammar
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Idioms
  • Jumbled paragraphs
  • Fill in the blanks
  • Para Completion and inference
  • Para jumbles
  • Verbal Logic
  • Foreign language words used in English
  • Different usage of same word
  • Contextual usage
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Sentence completion
  • Sentence correction
  • Syllogisms
  • Analogies & reverse analogies
  • Synonyms/Antonyms


  • The verbal ability section over the 3-4 years has focused majorly on 3 types of questions – Summary questions, Jumbled paragraphs, odd sentences in Paragraph jumbles. Most of these are Non-MCQ, and the answers need to be typed in. (TITA – Type-In-The-Answer). There is no negative marking.
  • Reading comprehension is generally of three types – Fact-based, Inference-based and Vocabulary based. Topics of these RCs range from science, history, politics, environment, society to literature, mythology and abstract topics Due to Covid-19, in the CAT 2020 exam, the VARC section only had 26 questions against the usual number of 34 questions. Reading-18 (All MCQs), Verbal Ability-8 (non-MCQs). Also, the allotted time was changed from 60 minutes to 40 minutes.

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)

This section is divided into two parts Data interpretation and Logical reasoning. LR sections test the ability of a candidate to understand and analyze logical assumptions and DI interpret and derive conclusions from the given data. There are a total of 32 questions in this section. Usually, both parts have an equal number of questions. Logical reasoning is the easier section of the two and the one you can score well in. On the other hand, Data Interpretation can be time-consuming and tricky.

Syllabus for DILR

  • Blood relations
  • Clocks and calendars
  • Series
  • Puzzles
  • Coding-Decoding
  • Family Tree
  • Binary logic
  • Seating arrangement
  • Sets and Caselets
  • Data Sufficiency
  • Pie charts
  • Tables
  • Data Structures
  • Data arrangement
  • Bars and line graphs
  • Venn Diagram
  • Clocks
  • Premise
  • Conclusion
  • Input and output
  • Linear and matric arrangement


  • Usually, the Data Interpretation and Logical reasoning section has 4 sets of questions each.
  • The DILR section is expected to have 24 MCQs and only 8 Non-MCQs.
  • There is negative marking for MCQs whereas no negative marking for the non-MCQ
  • You can also expect to have 8 to 9 TITA (Type In The Answer) type questions
  • Due to Covid-19, in CAT 2020, the DILR section only had 24 questions against the usual number of 32 questions. Also, the allotted time was changed from 60 minutes to 40 minutes.

Quantitative Ability (QA)

As the name suggests, Quantitative Ability is the section about Mathematics in the CAT exam. This section focuses on mathematical problems and will test a candidate’s mathematical knowledge and capacity. The syllabus for this section is pretty vast; however, the topics and questions are what you would have been generally taught in 10th to 12th standard.

There are a total of 34 questions asked in the Quantitative aptitude section. It contains both MCQs (Multiple Choice Questions) and Non-MCQs (Non-Multiple Choice Questions). The number of MCQs and Non-MCQs vary each year. It is expected to have 27 MCQs and 7 Non-MCQs. There is negative marking for MCQs, whereas no negative marking for non-MCQs.

Syllabus for QA

  • Arithmetic – Number System, HCF, LCM, Ratio & Proportion, Simplification, Percentage, Average, Age Calculation, Time & Work, Distance

  • Algebra - Theory of Equations, Quadratic Equation, Permutation & Combination, Sequence & Series

  • Geometry - Angles, Lines, Triangles, Circles

  • Mensuration - Areas and Volumes- Rectangle, Squares, Triangle, Circles, Cubes, Cones, Spheres, Pipes and Cistern

  • Calculus – Maxima and Minima, Function

  • Trigonometry - Trigonometric Ratios, Heights and Distances`


  • We recommend focusing on geometry, algebra, modern math and most importantly, arithmetic as they carry maximum weightage in the quantitative section.
  • Due to Covid-19, in CAT 2020 exam Quantitative Aptitude section only had 26 questions as against the usual number of 34 questions. Also, the allotted time was changed from 60 minutes to 40 minutes
  • It is expected to have 27 MCQs and 7 Non-MCQs

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