CAT Exam Pattern 2022

The official CAT exam pattern will soon be released by the IIM conducting CAT 2022 this year. It is likely that the CAT exam pattern 2022 will be along the lines of CAT 2021. The CAT paper has undergone various changes in the past few years due to the pandemic. Thus, a strong understanding of the CAT Exam Pattern 2022 will allow candidates to identify the different sections and formulate the best personal strategies.

The CAT Exam is split into three sections and each section has an individual time limit. Thus, it is essential that candidates are well versed with the CAT exam pattern 2022 to be able to tackle each section and get a good percentile. To maximise chances of getting admissions into prestigious institutes like the top IIMs, FMS New Delhi, IMT Ghaziabad,SPJIMR Mumbai, etc candidates will be required to score well in each section and get above 99%ile.

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CAT Exam Pattern Highlights

Some of the major points to keep in mind with regards to the CAT Exam Pattern are:

Key Components


No. of Questions

66 (tentative)

Sections in Exam

3; VARC, DILR and QA

Exam Duration

2 hours

Time Allotted per Section

40 minutes

Slots for Exam


Mode of Exam

Computer-based Exam

Medium of Instruction


Types of Questions


CAT Marking Scheme

+3 for every right answer

-1 for every wrong answer

TITA has no negative marking

CAT 2022 Notification

CAT Exam Pattern 2022

The CAT 2022 Exam Pattern will constitute 3 sections:

  • Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)
  •  Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)
  • Quantitative Ability (QA)

The CAT Exam is held as a Computer Based Test (CBT) with a duration of 2 hours. Each section has an individual time limit of 40 minutes each. Given below is the tentative breakup of the section-wise exam pattern.

Sections of Exam (in that order)

No of questions

Multiple Choice Questions

Non - MCQs

Time Limit





40 mins





40 mins





40 mins





120 mins

CAT 2022 Exam Date

CAT VARC Exam Pattern

The VARC section in CAT 2022 is expected to have 24 questions in total. In the verbal section, the CAT exam pattern of the last 3 years indicates that the section consists of two primary components, i.e. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension.

Many aspirants were caught off guard by the difficulty level of the section in CAT 2021 which should be a warning for CAT 2022 aspirants. This section of the CAT Exam Pattern should not be written off simply based on the lower difficulty level in some of the previous years.

Reading Comprehension:

  • This section accounts for over 67% of the question (16 questions out of 24)
  • Question Format: MCQs with a few TITA (Type in the Answer) questions
  • Reading Comprehension will have 4 passages comprising 4 questions each.

Verbal Ability

  • Relatively small subsection with only 8 questions
  • The expected division of the questions is 3 questions of parajumbles, 2 questions of odd sentence parajumbles and 3 parasummary-based questions.

CAT DILR Exam Pattern

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning is the second section of the CAT Exam. Candidates will be able to attempt it only after they submit the VARC section in the CAT Exam. It is by far the most dynamic section in CAT with new types of questions being introduced almost every year. Due to each set lending around 12-18 marks, it is advisable to be very careful when it comes to the selection of the questions.

Based on the CAT DILR exam pattern, here is the breakup of the sets:

  • 2 sets will have 6 questions each.
  • The other 2 sets will include 4 questions each.
  • The most common areas questioned include bar graphs, arrangements, missing data and puzzles (games).

CAT Quant Exam Pattern

This is the section that most candidates prepare extensively. This is because the CAT exam pattern and syllabus for this section are the most fleshed out among all the other sections. It is the section that can make or break the exam for most candidates.

  • The quant section has a total of 22 questions.
  • As the CAT quant exam pattern has no sub-sections all the questions are focused on the mathematical skills of the candidates.
  • Based on past trends, the questions are dominated by arithmetic and algebra and also include geometry.

CAT Exam Pattern: Important Points to Remember

  • Candidates cannot choose the order of the sections or move back and forth between sections. The fixed order of the exam is- VARC, followed by DILR and then Quant.
  • CAT has two types of questions- MCQ-based and TITA (type in the answer). The MCQ type has a negative marking of 1 for every wrong answer. The TITA questions have no negative marking.
  • In the MCQs, candidates will be given 4 options and in the Non-MCQs, the answer must be typed.
  • An on-screen calculator will be provided to the candidates during the exam.
  • Candidates can check the time with the help of the on-screen clock provided.
  • A sheet will be provided to the candidates for rough work. Candidates must submit the sheet upon the completion of the exam.

CAT Exam Pattern: Slot-Based Division

CAT 2022 is divided across three slots throughout the day. Candidates will have the slot they must appear for mentioned on their admit cards. Here is the slot-based division of the paper-

  • Morning: 8:30 am to 10:30 am
  • Afternoon: 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm
  • Evening: 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm

All three slots have the same exam pattern and syllabus. However, based on previous trends, the level of difficulty can vary across the slots.

CAT Exam Pattern and Syllabus

Understanding the exam pattern is effective only if the candidate is familiar with the syllabus of CAT 2022 as well. The strategy that the candidate will employ to take on CAT will be influenced by both, the exam pattern and syllabus. Given below are the most commonly covered topics in CAT.

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension

The VARC section focuses on the English language. The most important topics covered in this section include:

  • Jumbled Paragraphs
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Summary Questions
  • Facts-Inferences-Judgements
  • Reading Comprehension

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

The second section of CAT 2022, DILR is divided into two parts, i.e. data interpretation and logical reasoning. This is the most challenging section according to the CAT exam pattern for the last 3 years. The most frequently covered topics include:

  • Bar graph
  • Venn diagram
  • Seating Arrangement
  • Caselets
  • Syllogism
  • Blood Relations

Quantitative Aptitude

The candidates have to go through the entire syllabus in order to be confident of scoring well in this section. The CAT exam pattern and syllabus for the Quantitative Aptitude section consist of:

  • Number Systems
  • Algebra
  • Arithmetic
  • Modern Maths
  • Trignometry
  • Alligations and Mixtures
  • Sequence and Series

Exam Pattern: CAT Marking Scheme

Similar to the previous year's exam pattern, the marking scheme for the MCQ and TITA questions is different. Here is an overview of the marking scheme for CAT 2022-

Type of Question

Correct Response

Incorrect Response

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)



Type in the Answer (TITA)



Marking the Answers: CAT 2022

As mentioned before, the CAT 2022 exam is computer-based. Therefore candidates will be required to input their responses into the computer. Candidates will have to select one of the given options when putting in the answers-

  1. Save and Next: Candidates will select the answer, save it and then move to the next question.
  2. Clear Response: Candidates can delete the response to the question they answered.
  3. Mark for Review and Next: For answers that candidates are unsure about, they can mark it for review, answer it and then go to the next question.

CAT Exam Pattern Analysis: Changes Over the Years

Owing to the pandemic the CAT exam pattern saw some major changes. The number of questions and time allotted have both been reduced since the arrival of covid-19. In CAT 2019, candidates had to attempt 100 questions within 3 hours. At present, the exam pattern for CAT 2022 comprises 66 questions to be completed in 2 hours. However, before this, the CAT exam pattern remained the same for five consecutive years. Here is a view of the exam pattern across the past 10 years.



No. of Questions


2 hours



2 hours



3 hours



3 hours



3 hours



3 hours



3 hours



2 hours 50 minutes



2 hours 20 minutes



2 hours 20 minutes


How to prepare based on the CAT Quant exam pattern?

CAT 2022 Exam Mock

Ahead of the CAT exam, the institute conducting the CAT Exam will launch a CAT 2022 Mock Test in order to familiarize the students with the exam interface but not necessarily the CAT 2022 Exam Pattern. It will also help the students identify the placements of the timer and the on-screen calculator so that there is no time wastage in that aspect.

The level and number of questions are usually no indicator of the actual CAT paper since they are generally found to be extremely easy compared to the actual CAT exam questions.

Learnwhy you should write CAT Mocks

CAT 2021 Paper Analysis: Exam Pattern

CAT 2021 followed the CAT 2020 exam pattern of reduced time (2 hours) with 40 minutes allotted to each section. The examination was divided into 3 slots i.e Morning Slot, Afternoon Slot and Evening slot. The overall LOD (level of difficulty) for slot 2 was slightly higher than slot 1 while slot 3 had a similar LOD to both slots. However, the LOD varied for the three sections across the slots slightly. Here is the perceived level of difficulty for all the three sections of the slots:

CAT 2021 VARC Slot 3 >= CAT 2021 VARC Slot 2 >= CAT 2021 VARC Slot 1
CAT 2021 DILR Slot 3 < CAT 2021 DILR Slot 2 >= CAT 2021 DILR Slot 1
CAT 2021 QA Slot 3 > CAT 2021 QA Slot 2 > CAT 2021 QA Slot 1

The overall level of difficulty for CAT 2021 slot 1 was slightly higher than that of CAT 2020. The level of difficulty for the three sections was also relatively the same as that of CAT 2020.

All in all, CAT 2021 was moderate in its level of difficulty. Here is a section-wise analysis of CAT 2020 for your better understanding.

2021 Analysis: CAT VARC Exam Pattern

The difficulty of the VARC section of CAT 2021 was slightly higher than that of 2020. There were a total of 24 questions which ranged from easy to difficult across the questions. According to the CAT VARC exam pattern, the reading comprehension had 16 questions with 2 easy-to-read paragraphs and 2 tricky ones. Around 8 questions were focused on Verbal Ability i.e para jumble, odd one out and para summary; they were moderate to difficult in the LOD across the slots. The questions following an RC passage were rarely fact-based and more inferential. As per our deduction, the CAT 2021 slot 1 cut-off for the 99 percentile would hit somewhere around 35-38. In terms of exam pattern, questions in all three slots of CAT resembled each other.

Check how to improve the VARC section

2021 Analysis: CAT DILR Exam Pattern

The DILR section's LOD (level of difficulty) was at the same level as that of CAT 2020 and was moderate to difficult. The section had 20 questions, broken down into 4 sets with two sets of 6 questions and two sets with 4 questions. Slot 3 had 2 easy sets in comparison to only 1 easy set in slots 1 and 2. Overall, slot 3 was slightly easier than the other two slots and a raw score of 30-33 is considered ideal for a 99+ %ile in the CAT 2021 DILR section.

Check out: How to Improve DILR

2021 Analysis: CAT Quant Exam Pattern

The questions constituting the QA section were easier but tricky. Similar to CAT 2020, the level of difficulty kept on increasing as per the slot progression. Arithmetic dominated all the sections with algebra also close behind in slot2 and 3, which was a respite for the candidates as most of the candidates start their CAT QA preparation with arithmetic topics. There were questions related to the number system, modern math, geometry, arithmetic and algebra. On reviewing the CAT Quant exam pattern, it showed that the section had 22 questions across 40 minutes. Overall, a score of 40-42 and 34-36 would fetch a 99%ile in slot 1 and slot 3 respectively.

Explore: Prepare for CAT in 1 month

Overall Analysis

The overall paper difficulty of CAT 2021 was moderate. Across the sections, the Verbal Ability and DILR sections were slightly difficult as compared to the QA section. The overall cut-off for the 99%ile decreased to 92-95 in slot 3 and 97-98 in slots 1 and 2 due to the rise in the difficulty level of the overall CAT Paper.

CAT 2021 Exam Analysis

Other CAT Exam Patterns

Before this format, the CAT exam had gone through several different CAT exam patterns and syllabi. Looking at these can also help in preparing in case there is a change in the pattern: Here is a detailed analysis of the CAT 2014 - CAT 2021 exam which would help you draw correct inferences in order to prepare wholeheartedly for the upcoming exam:

CAT Years


CAT 2014 Detailed Analysis

View Info

CAT 2015 Detailed Analysis

Slot 1, Slot 2

CAT 2016 Detailed Analysis

Slot 1, Slot 2 

CAT 2017 Detailed Analysis

Slot 1, Slot 2

CAT 2018 Detailed Analysis

Slot 1, Slot 2

CAT 2019 Detailed Analysis

Detailed Slots 

CAT 2020 Detailed Analysis

Detailed Slots 

CAT 2021 Detailed Analysis

Detailed Slot

  • In CAT 2014, there were only two sections: VARC-LR and QA-DI. Both sections consisted of 50 questions each and the total time limit was 170 minutes. There was no sectional time limit in this paper despite having a sectional cutoff.
  • From CAT 2009 to CAT 2013, there were only 60 questions with 150 minutes allocated to solve the questions.
  • For CAT 2009 and 2010, there were three sections in the form of VARC, DILR and QA. There was no sectional time limit applied to the different sections in this type of paper.
  • For CAT 2011, 2012 and 2013, the number of questions was kept constant however the sections were modified to be converted into two sections: VARC-LR and QA-DI. The number of questions in each section was limited to 30 each.

General Tips on CAT Preparation as per CAT Exam Pattern

The CAT exam pattern gives the candidate a brief idea of how to prepare for the exam:

  • Each section has roughly equal weightage which indicates that while studying the basics, each section has to be given equal importance.
  • Following this, mocks play an important role in determining the route that the CAT preparation will take. It will enable the candidate to analyse their performance and identify their weaknesses & strengths.
  • The section in which the aspirant is scoring the most marks is the clearest for him in terms of concepts. Thus, the amount of time spent on that section can be reduced while the section where the aspirant is scoring the lowest has to be focused upon.
  • After a while, the performance in the mocks has to be taken stock of again. The aspirant needs to ensure that the section where he/she was strongest is not slipping and that there is some improvement in the section where he/she is focusing.

This milestone-based approach to the CAT preparation will allow the aspirant to focus on the right areas as the exam draws near.

CAT Preparation tips

Also read: How to start preparing for CAT?


CAT 2022 will have a blend of MCQ and non-MCQ questions. The MCQ questions will have 4 options while the non-MCQ answers will have to be typed. According to the expected CAT exam pattern, there will be 48 MCQs and 18 non-MCQ-type questions in CAT 2022.

CAT 2022 has two types of questions- MCQs and non-MCQs. An incorrect answer in MCQ questions will result in a marking of -1. On the other hand, non-MCQ questions will not have any negative marking.

According to the CAT exam pattern, the paper has three sections, which are as follows

  • Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
  • Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning
  • Quantitative Aptitude

Candidates are not allowed to carry their own calculators. An on-screen calculator will be provided to the candidates and it can be used for basic calculations. .

CAT 2022 is a 2 hours long paper which will be conducted across three slots in a single day. The paper is divided into 3 sections and each section has a time limit of 40 minutes.


As you can see, CAT is completely capable of shifting the paradigm of the CAT exam pattern and has done so over the years. In order to counter this, the candidates need to prepare for each topic in the syllabus and hone their test-taking skills. With the help of these two skills in their armory, any curveball thrown by CAT would not be much more than a temporary hesitation on the part of the candidate.

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