Common Admissions Test (CAT 2021) – A complete guide

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CAT or Common Admission Test examination is a computer-based common aptitude test which is the entry pass for 20 IIMs and over 1200 Business Schools in India. CAT is conducted by IIMs once a year.  CAT 2020, about 2.30 lakhs applications were received and the total number of candidates who took the test was 1.90 lakhs

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Important Dates for CAT 2021

The examination date for CAT 2021 will be announced by the IIM in July. CAT examination is conducted by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM). CAT examination is conducted only once a year.

The official website for CAT 2021 will be made live and the exam schedule will be announced in the last week of July 2021.

Online registrations commence for candidates to apply for CAT from the first week of August 2021.


The registration process to end for all candidates on the third week of September 2021.

CAT form correction starts from the third week of September 2021. Candidates can upload new photo and signature and edit test city choices.

The admit card is released on the third week of October, 2021. It can be easily downloaded from the CAT website until the examination day.

And lastly, the CAT examination starts from the last week of November 2021. The exam will be held in computer-based testing mode at 156 cities in multiple slots.

CAT Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility criteria for CAT is graduation. The candidate must acquire a bachelor’s degree from a recognised board or university with a minimum 50 per cent aggregate (45 per cent aggregate for SC, ST and PWD/DA category)

Candidates who have completed a professional degree (CA, CS, ICWA) are also eligible for the examination.

Candidates appearing for the final year of bachelor’s degree or awaiting the result are also eligible to apply for the CAT examination.

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Paper Pattern

The paper pattern for the CAT examination keeps on changing several times. The question paper consists of 76 questions and each question is of 3 marks making the total 228. Negative marking of 1/3 (-1) for every wrong MCQ.

The question paper is divided into three sections:

  1. Quantitative Aptitude (QA) –The Quantitative Aptitude section is a stand-alone section and comprises of only numerical based questions. This section includes 26 questions.
  2. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) –The VARC section is mainly focused to check the English language of the candidate. This section also includes 26 questions.
  3. Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) – The DILR section test the proficiency of the candidate to interpret data. This section includes 24 questions.

CAT 2021 Registration and Fees

CAT registration process will begin from the first week of August. The application forms will be available on the official website – IIMCAT. The candidates will have to fill the CAT registration and application form as per the process given below:

  • Log on to CAT website
  • Create a user ID by entering details such as name, date of birth, email ID and phone number
  • Click on ‘Generate OTP’
  • After successful registration, an OTP will be sent on the registered mobile number 
  • Verify CAT registration by entering the OTP in the given field and login again
  • Enter all the information asked- personal details, academic details, work experience
  • Upload scanned signature and photograph
  • Select test cities and preferred IIM campus for WAT-PI shortlisting
  • Make the payment of application fees via debit/credit card or net banking

The CAT exam application fees for the general category is 2,000 INR and for SC, ST, PwD category is 1,000 INR.

CAT Exam Preparation and Tips

Candidates preparing for CAT 2021 examination should start their preparation by now. A minimum of 4-6 months is required to score a good percentile in the exam.

To clear CAT examination in 1st attempt with good percentile the key elements, you must follow is Conceptual clarity,  practice and revision. Students who are giving the competitive exam for the first time and don’t know much about exam pattern should start 10-12 months prior to the exam. Make a study plan to get more effective results.

Here are some tips to prepare for the CAT exam effectively:

  • Make a list of topics that require more attention and start preparing for the first
  • Join online study groups on platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Telegram, etc.
  • Collect relevant study material and recommended books for CAT preparation
  • Make a day-wise plan and allot one topic each from VARC, DILR and QA
  • Practice two-three questions from the topic studied on the same day to assess how much you have learnt
  • Gradually, increase the speed in covering the number of topics each day
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