CAT 2022 Exam Pattern

The CAT Exam Pattern for the year 2022 is expected to be along similar lines to CAT 2021. The Notification for CAT 2022 will be out in July 2022. It is essential for aspirants to understand all the aspects of the CAT 2022 Exam Pattern to formulate a section-wise detailed strategy. CAT 2022 Exam Pattern is the first and the foremost step towards streamlining the action plan according to the CAT syllabus in order to score a 99%ile and maximize their chances of getting shortlisted by stalwart institutes like the top IIMs, FMS New Delhi, IMT Ghaziabad, SPJIMR Mumbai, etc which have carved a niche for themselves in the domain of management education.

Download the CAT Syllabus PDF

CAT 2022: Exam Highlights

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

Exam Duration

2 hours

No. of Questions

66 (tentative)

Slots for Exam


Mode of Exam


Medium of Instruction


Types of Questions


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. The CAT 2021 Exam Pattern is given below which should give you an idea about what you can expect in CAT 2022.

Sections of Exam (in that order)

No of questions

Multiple Choice Questions

Non - MCQs

Important features





16 questions of RC - 4 passages of 4 questions each.

8 Questions of Verbal ability - 3 Parajumbles, 2 Odd Sentence Parajumbles and 3 Parasummary questions.





4 sets of questions-

2 sets of 6 questions each.

2 sets of 4 questions each.

Areas questioned - Bar Graph, Arrangements, Missing Data and Puzzles (Games)





Dominated by questions of Arithmetic and Algebra.

4 Questions of Geometry appear across all slots






CAT 2022 Exam Date

CAT Exam Pattern: Slot and Section-Based Time

The CAT exam 2022 is divided across three slots throughout the day. All three slots have the same exam pattern but based on previous trends, the level of difficulty among slots can vary. 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

Further, the CAT exam pattern divides the paper into three sections and each has a time limit. Candidates cannot choose the order in which they can attempt the sections. They can also not go back and forth between sections. Thus, it is essential to understand the time limit of each section to attempt the paper accurately.


No. of Questions

Time Allotted



40 minutes



40 minutes



40 minutes

CAT Exam Pattern: 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 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


CAT Exam Pattern Analysis: Section-based Syllabus

In order to analyze the CAT Exam Pattern, we need to look at each section of the CAT exam individually.

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Section: CAT Exam Pattern

In terms of topic-wise weightage, the CAT 2022 VARC section pattern would be on the expected lines of CAT 2021. CAT 2021 VARC section was of 40 minutes in duration and the exact number of questions was 24.

  • As the VARC section faces unpredictable changes in terms of syllabus every year, it is appropriate to incorporate topics from the previous year's CAT question papers and combine the current as well as the previous syllabus to reach the 99%ile milestone.
  • The level of difficulty of the CAT VARC section fluctuates each year due to which aspirants need to be prepared for all alternatives.
  • Verbal Ability and Reading comprehension are one of the major sections of the CAT 2022 examination. To know how to improve Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT, harken back to the past when the traditional concept of "diverse reading” was practised. The more you read, the more enlightened you would be regarding VARC preparation. 

In this coming topic, we would discuss everything there is to know about Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT separately and together.

How to improve Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension

VARC Syllabus

In the verbal section, the CAT exam pattern of the last 3 years indicates that the section consists of two primary components:

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Verbal Ability

Many aspirants were caught out 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:

  • Accounts for over 67% of the question (16 questions out of 24)
  • Question Format: MCQs with a few TITA (Type in the Answer) questions
  • There are usually 5 passages in this section (3 larger ones and 2 smaller ones)

Verbal Ability:

  • Relatively small subsection with only 8 questions
  • The CAT exam pattern and syllabus for this section have included questions in the form of:
    • Jumbled Paragraphs
    • Verbal Reasoning
    • Summary Questions
    • Facts-Inferences-Judgements

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning Section: CAT 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 up to 15 marks, it is advisable to be very careful when it comes to the selection of the questions.
  • DILR has always been one of the trickiest sections to crack. However, there is some sunshine hidden behind dark clouds in this section. The questions at first seem tricky, but as the candidate progresses with the question and connects the missing dots, everything becomes fairly simple. 
  • Another major advantage of this section is that the difficulty level of the section means that solving 3-4 sets out of the 6 generally given should be sufficient to achieve a 95%ile.

How to improve DILR for CAT?

DILR Syllabus

This has been the most challenging section according to the CAT exam pattern for the last 3 years. As the name suggests, the section consists of two parts:

  • Data Interpretation
  • Logical Reasoning

Data Interpretation Section:

  • Consists of 4 sets which individually have 2 sets of 4 and 6 questions each.
  • These questions can be based directly on data that can be extracted from tables/graphs shown in the set or may require further calculation
  • MCQs and TITA Questions with usually 3 MCQs and 1 TITA Question per set

Logical Reasoning Section:

  • Consists of 4 sets
  • Based on Blood Relations, Arrangements, and combinations of other topics
  • ┬áThere is a combination of MCQs and TITA questions with one TITA question being part of each set

This section usually puzzles candidates. But, getting a high percentile in this section can be relatively easy as the aspirant only needs to solve 16 questions correctly in order to break into the 99%ile bracket. This has been the CAT exam pattern for at least the past three years. However, the amount of effort that is needed to break down each set before solving the questions means that most people struggle with time when solving this question.

Another important factor that each candidate must keep in mind is the proper selection of questions. This is because with the difficulty of the sets and the time taken to organize the data, the number of questions that each candidate can attempt is very limited and spending your time on the wrong questions can lead to dire consequences for the score in this section.

CAT Score vs Percentile

Quantitative Aptitude: CAT Exam Pattern

This is the section that most candidates prepare for 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.

  • It consisted of 22 Questions in total with 8 non-MCQs in CAT 2021.
  • There is no specific division in terms of topics that carry higher weights compared to their compatriots.
  • Thus, candidates have to go through the entire syllabus in order to be confident of scoring well in this section.

QA Syllabus

The CAT exam pattern and syllabus for the Quantitative Aptitude section consist of:

  • Number Systems
  • HCF & LCM
  • Profit, Loss and Discount
  • Simple and Compound Interest
  • Percentages
  • Speed, Time & Distance
  • Time & Work
  • Ratio & Proportion
  • Averages
  • Quadratic Equations and Linear Equations
  • Complex Numbers
  • Logarithm
  • Sequence and Series
  • Inequalities
  • Surds & Indices
  • Probability
  • Permutation and Combination
  • Set Theory & Function
  • Coordinate Geometry
  • Geometry
  • Mensuration
  • Mixtures and Alligations
  • Trigonometry

In the past, the CAT used to be famed for their difficult QA section but recently the IIMs have reduced the difficulty level of this section in order to accommodate non-engineers. This has also led to higher scores and cutoffs in this section. But recently, there has been a dip in the complexity of QA questions. The questions have been witnessed to be fairly simple in terms of difficulty, the only thing is that they are scattered throughout the section. Here is an informative video for you to understand in detail how to identify the easy QA questions which would lead you to a 95-99%ile.

Easy Questions in CAT Quantitative Aptitude: 

CAT Syllabus has remained more or less constant since inception, siding aside a few variations. CAT 2022 syllabus is also expected to be like CAT Syllabus 2021. The official syllabus has not been released by the test administrator yet.

How to prepare for CAT QA?

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.

check : Why write CAT Mocks?

CAT 2021 Paper Analysis: Exam Pattern and Syllabus

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 the 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:

VARC Section 2021 Analysis: 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. 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.

DILR Section 2021 Analysis: 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+ %percentile in the CAT 2021 DILR section.

QA Section 2021 Analysis: 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. 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 syllabus. 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 on 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. 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?


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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