What is CAT?

Common Admission Test or CAT is an online examination conducted by IIM for pursuing MBA in 20 IIMs and about 1200 B-schools in India. This exam, held in the month of November is conducted in two slots- forenoon and afternoon. The question paper has a total of 100 MCQs from three main sections- Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) and Quantitative Ability (QA). More than 2 lakh candidates appear for CAT each year. In 2019 about 2, 09,926 candidates appeared for the CAT exam held at 156 cities across India. Notification for CAT 2020  will be released in the month of July and registrations will commence from the first week of August.

CAT Eligibility Criteria

  • The applicant must possess a bachelor’s degree with a minimum of 50 percent marks or equivalent CGPA ( 45 percent for SC, ST, and PWD/DA category) from a recognized board or university
  • The candidate must have completed a professional degree (CA/ CS/ ICWA) with required percentage
  • Candidates in their final year of bachelor’s degree/equivalent qualification or awaiting results are also eligible to apply for CAT exam 2020

Read more: CAT Eligibility Criteria

CAT 2020: Exam Highlights

Features Details 
Exam NameCommon Admission Test (CAT) 
Conducting BodyIIMCAT
CAT convening bodyIIM
Exam LevelNational
Exam ModeOnline
Exam FrequencyOnce a year
Exam Duration180 Minutes
Exam Syllabus(1) Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)
(2) Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)
(3) Quantitative Ability (QA)
Exam Pattern100 questions in MCQ and non-MCQ format
LanguageEnglish
Number of Applications Received 2.44 lakh
Exam Fees-General Category: INR 1900
-Reserved Category: 950
Exam PurposeAdmission into IIMs, SPJIMR, FMS, MDI, IMT and over 1200 B Schools in India
Course OfferedMBA / PGDM
No. of Test Cities156
Exam Helpdesk No. 0495-2809219
Exam Website https://iimcat.ac.in

CAT 2020 Exam: Important Events and Dates

The answer key for CAT 2019 will be released on November 30th and the result is slated to be declared by January 6, 2020. Note the important dates with reference to CAT 2019 below.

CAT 2020 EventsCAT 2020 DatesMain Features
CAT 2020 Notification Release4th Week of July, 2020CAT 2020 Schedule and related details will be announced by IIM soon.
Starting of CAT Exam Registration 20201st Week of August, 2020Opening of Online Registration window,
Registration process and registration fee will be same as 2019.
End of registration4th Week of September 2020Registration process ends for all applicants
Correct of CAT Exam Form4th Week of September 2020The new photo and signature can be uploaded. Candidates can not update any other information.
Release of CAT Mock Test2nd Week of October, 2020The CAT Mock Test will be available in online mode.
In official mock test, number of questions will be 100 and total time duration be 3 hours
Release of CAT official Tutorial2nd Week of October, 2020A video including the information about exam day guidelines, will be released
Release of the CAT Admit Card3rd Week of October, 2020The aspirants can download the admit card by visiting the official website of CAT 2020
Exam Date of CAT 20204th week of November, 2020CAT exam 2020 will be held in forenoon and afternoon sessions in 156 test centers.
Release of CAT answer key4th week of November, 2020The answer key can be downloaded from the official website of CAT. If there is any objection, it can be raised.
Starting of answer key challenge process1st week of December 2020Aspirants can raise objections, INR 1000 to be paid per question
End of answer key challenge process1st week of December 2020Window for submitting objections will be open till 5:00 PM only.
Declaration of CAT Result1st Week of January 2020By 9 AM, Scorecards will be released on the official CAT website

Also read: CAT 2019 Analysis

CAT Cut Offs

The cut-off mark to secure a seat in IIM differs from one IIM to the other and is set category- wise. Though the qualifying cut-offs usually range between 80 and 90 for the general category, the final cut-offs are much higher. The qualifying cut-offs of 2018-19 for different IIMs are mentioned in the table below.

IIMQualifying Cut-Off
IIM Bangalore80
IIM Ahmedabad80
IIM Calcutta85
IIM Kozhikode85
IIM Lucknow90
IIM Rohtak90
IIM Indore90
IIM Visakhapatnam90
IIM Trichy95
IIM Udaipur90
IIM Ranchi95
IIM Amritsar90
IIM Shillong75
IIm Kashipur90
IIM Sambalpur90
IIM Jammu95
IIM SIrmaur95
IIM Nagpur90
IIM Raipur95
IIM Bodhgaya95

*The above-mentioned percentiles are of General category. 

CAT 2020 Selection Procedure        

The selection process for admission in IIM is initiated after the results are announced. Each IIM sets a cut off percentile and candidates who meet the criteria are eligible for admission. The following is a brief of the selection process at IIMs and Non- IIMs.

IIM Admission Process

The selection process for all IIMs has the following steps

  1. Candidates are screened based on the CAT 2019 score
  2. Written Ability Test/Group Discussion/Personal Interview (WAT/GD/PI)
  3. The final selection is based on the aggregate score

Non-IIM Admission Process

Other B- schools apart from the IIMs also conduct GD/PI rounds after shortlisting candidates based on their CAT scores. However, certain colleges use only the CAT score for admissions to their MBA programs.

CAT Exam Pattern and Test Structure

CAT question paper has three sections: VARC, DILR and QA of 60 minutes each. There are MCQ and Non- MCQ type questions, both of which are expected to be solved by the candidates. The questions are generally of moderate difficulty level with the QA section being the toughest of the lot. The CAT exam pattern is given in detail below.

CAT question paper pattern and structure

FeatureDetails
Number of exam sessionsTwo:
(1) Forenoon
(2) Afternoon
Number of sectionsThree:
(1) VARC
(2) DILR
(3) QA
Duration of exam-60 Minutes per section
-Total of 180 Minutes
Number of Questions-Total: 100
-Section-wise:
(1) VARC: 34
(2) DILR: 32
(3) QA: 34
Full Marks300
Question Paper LanguageEnglish
Answer choices per question4
Question typesMCQs and Non-MCQs
Difficulty level(section-wise)-VARC: Easy to moderate
-DILR: Moderate to difficult
-QA: Difficult
Marking Scheme-1 correct answer: 3 Marks
-1 incorrect answer: (-1) 1/3rd of the mark awarded for the right answer

Changes in CAT exam pattern over the years: 

CAT exam, earlier conducted offline became an online exam from 2009. From then on, the exam has undergone several changes with regard to test structure, time and the total number of questions. In 2010, a total of 60 questions from three sections- QA, DILR and VARC had to be answered in 150 minutes. Over the years, the exam duration and the number of questions increased to 180 and 100 respectively. From 2011 to 2014, the question paper was divided into two sections only – QA & DI and LR & VARC. However, from 2015, it went back to the previous pattern of three sections. 

CAT Mock Test

IIMCAT has released the official CAT mock test which can only be accessed by those who will register for CAT 2020. This test can be attempted by logging on to the IIMCAT website using the login IDs.

CAT Application numbers year-wise

CAT Application numbers year-wise

In 2019, about 2.44 lakh candidates applied for the CAT exam, which has been the highest since 2010. Last year, the number of applications received was 2.40 lakh.

CAT Test Cities and Exam Centers

CAT exam will be held at various exam centers in 156 cities across India. In the CAT application, candidates can choose up to four preferences for test city allocation, one among which will be allotted based on the availability of seats.

CAT Exam Day Guidelines

The following are the list of documents to be brought to the exam center:

  • Admit card: Candidates have to necessarily bring their admit cards for CAT 2019 without which they will not be allowed to take the examination. 
  • Identity Proof: Along with the admit card, candidates need to bring a valid ID proof such as Aadhaar card, College ID (must be supported with a valid debit/credit card), driving license, voter ID, PAN card, passport, employee ID.
  • Name change document: In case a candidate has changed their name, they are required to carry a name change degree document. 

The following are the list of items prohibited inside the exam hall.

  • Calculator, watch, phone, iPad or any electronic item
  • Bags and purses
  • Eatables
  • Jewelry and accessories that contain metal
  • Jackets and clothes with pockets
  • Closed footwear 

Note: Candidates with a metal implant, pacemaker, etc. in their body have to produce a medical certificate of the same at the Test Centre. 

Here’s an overview of the CAT exam day:

CAT Exam process

CAT Exam process

Top Colleges Accepting CAT Exam Score

CAT scores are accepted by 20 IIMs and numerous B-schools across the country. The list of top colleges is as follows:

IIM CalcuttaIIM Ahmedabad
IIM BangaloreIIM Lucknow
IIM KozhikodeIIM Indore
IIM ShillongIIM Rohtak
IIM RanchiIIM Nagpur
IIM RaipurIIM Udaipur
IIM TiruchirapalliIIM Visakhapatnam
IIM KashipurIIM Bodhgaya
IIM AmritsarIIM Sambalpur
IIM JammuIIM Sirmaur

IIM Fees- Campus Wise

 Given below is the PGP/MBA program fee(in lakhs) for two years at each IIM.

 IIM campusPGP/MBA seats*PGP fees (total fee - in INR-Lakhs)
IIM Ahmedabad38523
IIM Bangalore43021
IIM Calcutta21021
IIM Lucknow43614
IIM Kozhikode37517
IIM Raipur21012
IIM Udaipur26013
IIM Rohtak24012
IIM Visakhapatnam6010
IIM Trichy18010
IIM Sambalpur12010
IIM Ranchi24010
IIM Bodhgaya12011
IIM Sirmaur6010
IIM Jammu12010
IIM Amritsar609
IIM Shillong12013
IIM Kashipur21010
IIM Nagpur13010
IIM Indore45116

 *The fees have been rounded off to the nearest lakh and may be increased in the next academic year.

FAQs Regarding CAT Exam 

Q. How often is the CAT exam held every year?

A: CAT exam is held once a year. It’s an online exam conducted in two sessions – forenoon (9 am – 12 pm) and afternoon (2 pm – 5 pm).

Q. How much is the application fee of CAT exam?

A: The application fee is Rs 1,900 for General category and Rs 950 for reserved category students.

Q. What is the age limit for CAT exam?

A: No, there is no restriction on the age limit. Any Graduate or a candidate in the final year of Graduation are eligible to apply for CAT.

Q. What are the scholarship schemes available for candidates upon admission in IIMs?

A: Scholarships are given to meritorious candidates as well as to those hailing from an economically weaker background.

Q. I am in my second year of graduation. Can I appear for CAT for practice purposes?

A: No, you must fulfil the minimum eligibility criteria to appear for the exam.

Q. How many time slots are available for CAT 2019 examination?

A: The exam has two slots: forenoon (9 am to 12 pm) and afternoon (2pm to 5 pm) and will be held on Sunday, November 24, 2019.

Q. Can I appear for the CAT exam in more than one slot?

A: No, your exam can be taken only in one slot which is allotted by the exam authority. Thorough verification of admit cards, photo IDs, candidate photo and biometric records are done to ensure that every candidate attempts the exam in only one slot.

Q. Are there any special provisions for PWD candidates?

A: Yes, scribe assistance and extra exam hours are provided for PWD candidates.

Q. Is the extra one hour for PWD candidates distributed among 3 sections of CAT question paper?

A: Yes, the extra hour is equally divided among the three sections. The entire exam is for 240 minutes and each section is allotted 80 minutes.

Q. I belong to the EWS category, what supporting documents do I need to upload with CAT form?

A: You are required to upload a duly filled, self-attested EWS category form which is available on the CAT website.

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

A: For every correct answer, three marks will be awarded and for each incorrect answer, one mark will be deducted. The total marks for the exam are 300.

Q. Do I have a choice of shift timing and test date?

A: The CAT exam is conducted only on one day in two shifts. The candidate cannot select their preference for the shift as it is allotted based on availability by the exam authority. 

CAT 2019 Contact Information

CAT Centre

Admissions Office

Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode

IIMK Campus P.O.

Kozhikode 673570 CAT Centre

Phone and email:

0495-2809219

[email protected]

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