CAT Exam (Common Admission Test)
CAT Exam (Common Admission Test)

CAT Exam: A Complete Guide for CAT Aspirants

Are you a CAT aspirant? Then this is the right place for you to know what CAT Exam is! CAT Exam (Common Admission Test) is a computer-based selection test conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs). Being a computer-based standardized exam, this stands prior to the Business Administration Programs. Not only for the IIMs but CAT stands as a mandatory examination for the admission into India’s most reputable Institutes. Before 2009, CAT was just a paper-based test which was conducted on a single day for all the aspirants from all over the country. The duration of the exam, as well as the patterns, have changed over the years.

Eligibility for CAT Examination:

To be able to get eligible for CAT, candidates must fulfil the following criterion:

  • The mandatory condition for the candidate is to hold a bachelor’s degree with a minimum of 50% marks or an equivalent percentage. While there is a requirement of 45% marks for any of the reserved categories like Scheduled Tribe (ST), Scheduled Caste (SC), and Persons with Disability (PWD) or Differently Abled (DA).
  • The aspirant must hold the degree that is awarded by any university included by an act of the central or a state legislature in India. Or it can be any other educational institution that is ascertained by an act of Parliament or is acknowledged to be deemed as a University under Section 3 of the UGC Act, 1956. Otherwise, it can be any institution that has an equivalent qualification recognized by the MHRD, India.
  • The application for the exam is open for even those candidates who are waiting for their graduation degree final results. The candidates who are going to appear for their final year of the bachelor’s degree are also eligible for this exam. If such candidates get selected, the will only be approved to join the program if they present a certificate from the principal/registrar of their institute conveying that the candidate has finished every one of the prerequisites for acquiring four-year or three-year college education capability on the date of the issue of the certificate.

Eligibility Verification:

If an applicant is shortlisted for Written Ability Test (WAT) and Personal Interview (PI) by any of the IIMs, the candidate has to fulfil with the following eligibility verification:

  • Mark sheets and Degree Certificate: Shortlisted candidates must maintain their original mark sheets and submit attested photocopies of the documents in support of their eligibility at the time of interview. If the candidate is selected for a particular programme, there is a requirement of mark sheet of all semesters and original degree certificate.
  • Reservation Category Requirements: If any candidate falling under the category of SC, ST, NC-OBC or DA, they are required to show their original caste, class or any disability document and are even required to submit the copy for the same prior to the interview. Also, a candidate selected for a programme will have to submit the original certificate of qualifying degree and attested copy of the same for verification.
  • Candidates in the Final Year of Graduation: The candidates which are going to appear for their final year examination for the bachelor degree are required to produce an original certificate from the Principal/Registrar/Director of the University/institution certifying that the candidate has obtained 50% marks or equivalent and if the candidate is from a particular category then, 45% for the SC, ST, and DA category candidate based at the time of interview.

The pattern for CAT Examination:

Like any other competitive exam, this examination has also multiple forms and versions. Therefore, two scores are involved in the assessment for CAT which is The Raw score and The Scaled score.
Raw score depends on the questions that are to be answered by the candidates. Every correct answer is given +3 points whereas 1 point is deducted from the existing points for every incorrect answer. Unanswered questions are not evaluated. Then the raw score is adjusting through the Equating process. The evaluated Raw score is placed on a common scale to ensure appropriate interpretation of the scores. This is termed as Scaling. The total number of questions, as well as questions falling under every section, may vary in the pattern But there are 100 questions for all sections combined. CAT Exam consists of three sections:

  • Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VARC): The very first section which is Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension has a total of 34 questions for which Verbal Ability has 10 questions and Reading Comprehension has 24 questions. Time allowed for the section is 60 minutes.
  • Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DI & LR): The second section is data interpretation and logical reasoning which contains 32questions, in which 16 questions are for data interpretation and 16 questions are for logical reasoning. Time allowed for DL & LR is 60 minutes.
  • Quantitative Ability (QA): The third section contains 34 questions and the time allowed is 60 minutes. The total marks for the examination is 300 whereas the total exam duration is 3hours (180 mins). The questions can be in the form of MCQs as well as none MCQs. The candidates can attend the examination only through online mode.

Syllabus for CAT Exam:

CAT Syllabus is divided in three major sections. These sections are further divided into subsections. The syllabus could be referred through topics below:

I. Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VARC):This section tests the English language skills of the candidate. The main purpose is to have the idea that how well the candidate can analyze any content to conclude the core idea of the topic. In this section, comprehension passages are given which are further followed by a few number of questions. Also few grammar-based questions like sentence completion, jumbled sentences etc.are also included in this section The main areas from where the questions are derived for verbal ability are

  • Para jumbles (12% of the section’s total)
  • Sentence Correction and Completion (9%of the section’s total)
  • Summary based (9%of the section’s total)
The reading comprehension involved questions that are title based or vocabulary based. (70% of the section’s total).

The overall range of this section is moderately difficult and time-consuming.

II. Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DI & LR): The logical reasoning and data interpretation section test the proficiency of the candidates to interpret data and their ability to understand logical assumption. In this section, Logical reasoning is considered to be highly scoring who has questions having generic variety based on the seating arrangement, direction sense test etc. Therefore questions vary from inequalities to symbol operations, direction sense test, etc. Whereas, the data interpretation section is a bit complicated and time-consuming section including questions based on case lets and graphs.

Several confusing data case lets are incorporated in this section and candidates are required to understand the data sets thoroughly to be able to answer the full questions. This section is considered to be difficult but could be high scoring if attempted being cautious.

III. Quantitative Ability (QA): This section only contains different numerical based questions from different topics of mathematics like algebra, geometry, number system. The section revolves around 5 topics which are:

  • Basic Arithmetic (23%of the section’s total)
  • Number System (15% of the section’s total)
  • Geometry (29%of the section’s total)
  • Algebra (24% of the section’s total)
  • Modern Maths (9% of the section’ total)

Geometry is the important topic of quantitative ability carries of 8 to 10 questions in the section. There are non-MCQs type questions where candidates have to type their answers. This section ranges from easy to moderately high level.

Registration for CAT Exam:

Applicants can register for the CAT Examination only through online mode. The application form is released by the conducting IIM on the official website prior to the exam. The candidates are instructed to fill their necessary details in the application form. The process of registration is usually done between the months of August and September. The candidates must fill their application being very careful as the application form stands to cancel due to the presence of any discrepancy.

Admission Process:

The IIM appoints candidates for the second stage of selection independently. This process includes a Written Ability Test as well as a Personal Interview (WAT & PI). The performance of the candidate in CAT Examination plays a vital role in the overall process of selection. IIMs need to rank the candidates at various stages to which there is a necessity for IIM to consider previous academic records and work experiences for the same.

The processes, academic cut-offs and the weights allocated to the evaluation parameters may vary across IIMs. The candidates are required to be prepared certainly well as this stands to be one of the most difficult exam in the country.

How to select books for CAT preparation

Candidates should keep the following in mind while choosing books for preparation of CAT exam:

  • Candidates should always select the books which are published recently. These books have the most relevant and latest content. CAT Exam syllabus gets changing and updating time to time. So if a candidate selects the latest edition books, he/ she would be able to prepare according to the updated version of the syllabus.
  • The candidate must always select those books that have exam preparation strategy and teaches the skills for achieving high scores for the exam. Also, the books must include previous year question papers and sample papers as well.
  • Candidates should prepare from the books written by renowned authors and are published from reputed publishing houses. Only popular books must be considered for preparation as they have pertinent and good content, and have helped candidates in past years with the most authentic content to facilitate the preparation process.
  • Candidates should always go for a comparison between different books before selecting them, only to have the best books in hand for preparation purpose.

Important books for preparation of CAT Exam

The Common Admission Test is a national level entrance exam conducted by IIMs on a rotational basis. It is considered to be one of the difficult examinations of the country. In order for candidates to get selected, they must be completely prepared for this exam and the first step for this is to prepare according to a strategy which would help them to select best books for their preparation. Here is a complete list of books section wise:

I. Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VARC): The list of books for VARC which candidate can refer to:

  • Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension by Arihant Publication
  • R.S. Aggarwal’s A Modern Approach to Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning
  • Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay’s How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT
  • The Pearson Guide to Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning by Nishit Sinha

II. Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DI & LR): List of books for this section:

  • Arun Sharma’s How to Prepare for Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning for CAT
  • Nishit K. Sinha’s Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for the CAT
  • NCERT books
  • Word Power Made Easy by NORMAN LEWIS

III. Quantitative Ability (QA): For this section, a candidate can refer to the following:

  • Arun Sharma’s How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for CAT
  • Sarvesh K Verma’s Quantum CAT
  • Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT by Nishit K. Sinha
  • NCERT Mathematics books for Class 8, 9 & 10

Admit Card for CAT Exam

Admit cards are available online for every candidate that have registered for the exam on the official website. Candidates need to download or print their admit cards through their login credentials. Admit cards carry candidate’s following details:

  • Name of the Candidate
  • Venue for the examination
  • Complete Address for CAT Exam venue
  • Date and time for the Exam

It is important for the candidate to carry the Admit Card while appearing for the examination. Several documents are also required with the Admit Card such as Voter ID, Driving License, Aadhaar Card etc. Without these documents, the candidate is not allowed to prepare for the examination. Along with the admit card of CAT 2020, candidates will have to bring any one of the following photo ID proofs:

  • PAN card
  • Voter ID card
  • Aadhaar card
  • Passport
  • Driving License

Hope this information would have explained the entire CAT procedure, further queries could be asked through the comment section.

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About Shagun Sharma

Keep your dreams alive. Achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe. Gail Devers

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