CAT Exam Eligibility 2021

MBA is quite a sought after degree for many people. Some people view it as an escape to greener pastures, while others see it as an opportunity to learn more and explore different fields before making their final career decisions.

The CAT 2021 Notification has been released! For more information: Click here

An entry to the MBA world requires the candidates to appear for Entrance Exams of which the most popular is CAT or Common Admission Test. The CAT Score allows the candidate to be eligible for most of the best B-Schools in India including the IIMs which hold the CAT Exam.

The CAT Exam 2021 will be convened by one of the prestigious IIMs following CAT 2020 which was convened by IIM Indore. The CAT Exam eligibility is generally not changed too much by any of the IIMs so as to allow the maximum number of candidates in the exam. This also automatically means that the more worthy candidates will be able to qualify for further rounds. One more reason for this relatively conservative strategy is that the institutes have a backup to the CAT Exam Eligibility Criteria in the form of the Eligibility Criteria of the individual institutes.

CAT Exam Eligibility Criteria 2021

In order to appear for the CAT Exam, the candidates have to be eligible for it according to the CAT Exam Eligibility Criteria of 2021. The official CAT 2021 Eligibility Criteria has been released along with the CAT 2021 Notification:

  • In order to be eligible for the CAT Exam, the candidate has to pass at least their Bachelor's degree with at least 50% (for General Category and for candidates from the NC-OBC caste). For SC/ST and Differently Abled (DA) candidates, the percentage required is 45%.
  • For the Degree to be counted, the University who has awarded the degree has to be recognized by the MHRD.
  • If the University awards grades or CGPA instead of marks, the conversion factor given by the University has to be used. If there is no conversion factor specified by the University, the CGPA has to be converted into percentage by direct conversion i.e., divide the CGPA received by the highest CGPA possible and multiply the result by 100.
  • Candidates who have completed their professional degrees with over 50% (45% for SC/ST/PwD) are also eligible for CAT.

Note: For candidates who are appearing for their final year in 2021 (graduating in 2021 or 2022), a promotion/pass certificate in the previous year will make them eligible to appear for CAT 2021.

For Candidates who passed out in 2020 or 2021, the minimum percentage of marks in the undergraduate course has been waived.

CAT Exam Eligibility for Final Year Students

A common doubt amongst final year students planning on giving CAT is regarding their eligibility for the CAT Exam. The final year students of all Bachelor's degrees are welcome to give CAT with the caveat that they will clear their Bachelor's with the required percentage (45% or 50%). If the candidate is unable to clear their Bachelor's with the required percentage, their results in the further admission processes will be rendered null and void.

Note: For candidates who are appearing for their final year in 2021 (graduating in 2021 or 2022), a promotion/pass certificate in the previous year will make them eligible to appear for CAT 2021.

Key Points about CAT Exam Eligibility

  • There is no age limit on the CAT Exam according to the CAT Exam Eligibility Criteria.
  • While the current eligibility criteria states that the candidate should have a Bachelor's Degree of at least 3 years, the older Bachelor's degree lasting 2 years will also be eligible as long as the University is recognized by the UGC.
  • The percentage of marks obtained is calculated according to the practice of the University.
  • For further admission processes in IIMs, the candidate should maintain a unique and valid email ID as well as phone number for official communications.

Contradictions between the CAT Exam Eligibility 2021 and IIM Eligibility 2022-23

While the IIMs convene the CAT Exam, their eligibility Criteria is not exactly the same. There are some small points of contradictions that every candidate dreaming of studying at the IIMs should be aware of. While there is no age limit for both the CAT Exam eligibility as well as the IIM eligibility, the 2 years Bachelor’s degree which is accepted by CAT Exam Eligibility Criteria is not accepted by the IIMs which require a 3 years Bachelor's degree for their Management Programs.

Apart from this, there are no contradictions between the CAT Exam Eligibility and the IIM Eligibility.

CAT Exam Eligibility: Factors which Disqualify a Candidate

  • If the candidate has not appeared for their bachelor's degree and is in progress of completing their Professional Degree (CA/CS/ICWA)
  • If the candidate is pursuing both their bachelor's degree as well as professional degree but has yet to complete both of them.
  • If the graduation is not recognized by the UGC/AICTE/MHRD, the candidate will be considered ineligible to appear for the CAT Exam.

Reservation of Seats

After the CAT Exam Eligibility and the CAT Exam itself is cleared, the goal of every student is to enter the IIMs; the highest regarded MBA Colleges in India. However the IIMs are government-run institutions which mean that they follow the government policies about reservations for the under-privileged categories.

The Reservation also consists of reservation for Differently Abled Individuals or Persons with Disability. In order to avail of the Caste Based Reservation, the candidates are required to provide proof in the form of the SC/ST/OBC Certificate in the application form. Following this, the original may be required during the final admission process. The standard formats for the caste certificates are provided on the official CAT website so that there is some uniformity and verification of the certificate can be done relatively easily.

These reservations are as follows:

Category Reservation
Scheduled Caste15%
Scheduled Tribe7.5%
Other Backward Classes of NC-OBC27%
Person with Disability5%

This reservation means that a general category candidate has just over 54% (54.5% to be exact) seats available to him/her. The total number of seats available in the various IIMs is around 4000. With the reservation status as it is, the number of seats available to candidates from the general category is just over 1900. With the addition of 20 or so top Institutions, the General Category candidates have approximately 4000 seats to compete upon.

This shows the level of competition for each seat in the top B-Schools for a candidate in the General Category.

CAT Exam Eligibility: Person with Disability Classification

The PwD will include candidates who have the following problems/disabilities:

  • Candidates having hearing impairment
  • Candidates with low vision/blindness
  • Candidates with locomotive disability or cerebral palsy

These conditions make the candidates eligible for the PwD category in all the colleges under CAT. There is however a caveat that the candidates should have at least 40% of the handicap mentioned above to be eligible. The candidates with disability are also given 20 minutes more per section keeping in mind their condition. For candidates with vision related issues, a scribe will be provided at the center along with a wheelchair for candidates who have locomotive disability or blindness.

CAT Exam Eligibility for Final Year Students: Documents Required

The breakup between freshers and candidates with Work Experience in CAT generally oscillates between 40% and 60%. Thus, the number of final year students appearing for CAT each year is quite significant. For these candidates, the first step that they need to clear is the CAT Exam Eligibility 2021. In order to comply with the CAT Exam Eligibility Criteria, the candidates need to furnish some additional documents such as:

  • Since the candidate does not possess their final degree certificate with the total grade obtained, the candidate has to furnish an additional document with the signature of the Principal/Head of Department/ Registrar/ Director of the Institute verifying that the candidate has over 50% marks in the course currently.
  • Post their admission in any of the B-Schools, the candidates will be required to furnish their final certificate from their graduation in order to continue in the institute.


It is essential for every student to go through the CAT Exam Eligibility Criteria before they start the CAT Preparation in earnest. The reason for this is that some candidates may be ineligible for the CAT Exam which would mean that the CAT Preparation would be a waste of the candidate's time. More importantly, the candidate should be aware of the documents that he/she may be asked to furnish during the CAT Registration Process as well as the further admission processes. The documents required for the further processes of different colleges can be easily found online and the candidate would be well advised to keep those documents ready for inspection at the time.

The CAT 2021 Notification was released on 31st July, 2021 while the CAT 2021 Registration has begun from 4th August 2021. The CAT Registration Deadline is set for 15th September 2021 with a correction window expected to be announced post the deadline. The CAT Exam will be held on 28th November 2021 with the results being declared in the first week of January, 2022. This is the timeline that has been confirmed in the CAT 2021 Notification. More information about the CAT Notification along with an overview of all the basic aspects of the CAT Exam can be found on this page.