CAT Exam Pattern 2024: Sections, Slots, and Marking Scheme

Updated on 16th December 2023 | 4:34 pm | #CATExamPattern

The CAT exam pattern 2024 is expected to be along the same lines as CAT 2023. Based on past trends, the notification for CAT 2024 will be released in the last week of July 2024 and the exam will tentatively be held on the last Sunday of November 2024.

The CAT Exam is split into three sections and each section has an individual time limit of 40 minutes.

  • Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension: 24 questions
  • Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning: 20 questions
  • Quantitative Aptitude: 22 questions

A strong understanding of the CAT Exam Pattern 2024 will allow candidates to identify the different sections for preparation and formulate the best exam strategies. This will 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.

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CAT 2024: Exam Highlights

Some of the major points to keep in mind with regard to the CAT exam pattern are:

Key Components


No. of Questions


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 Exam Pattern 2024

The CAT 2024 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 2024 Exam Pattern is given below:

Sections of Exam (in that order)

No of questions


Non - MCQs

Important features





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

8 Questions of Verbal ability - Parajumbles, para completions, parasummary and odd sentence out





4 sets of 5 questions each

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





Dominated by questions of Arithmetic and Algebra.





CAT VARC Exam Pattern

The VARC section in CAT comprises 24 questions in total. In the verbal section, the CAT exam pattern of the past years indicates that the section consists of two primary components, i.e. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension.

Reading Comprehension:

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

Verbal Ability

  • Relatively small subsection with only 8 questions
  • The expected division of the questions, as per CAT 2023, is 2 parajumbles, 2 para completions, 2 parasummary, and 2 odd sentence out

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. It is advisable to be very careful when it comes to the selection of the questions.

Based on the CAT DILR exam pattern, here are the changes as per CAT 2023:

  • The section will have 4 sets comprising 5 questions each.
  • Each set lends a maximum of 15 marks.
  • 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 2024 will be 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

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 2024-

Type of Question

Correct Response

Incorrect Response

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)



Type in the Answer (TITA)



Marking the Answers: CAT 2024

As mentioned before, the CAT 2024 exam will be 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. The exam pattern for CAT 2021 comprised 66 questions to be completed in 2 hours. However, before this, the exam pattern remained the same for five consecutive years till 2019. Here is a view of the exam pattern across the past few years.



No. of Questions

2021- 2023

2 hours



2 hours



3 hours



3 hours



3 hours



3 hours



3 hours



2 hours 50 minutes



2 hours 20 minutes


CAT Preparation Tips 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 analyze 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


No, calculators are not allowed inside the examination hall. Candidates should memorize ad practice the basic equations and formulae required for CAT.

The IIMs do not provide a CAT exam pattern or syllabus and as the CAT exam pattern changes every year, it is not possible to define the exact questions that are asked from each section. However, based on the CAT papers from the past few years, it can be deduced that three topics of QA i.e. arithmetic, algebra, and geometry dominate the section.

TITA or Type in the Answer are questions in which the candidate will not have any options to choose from. Instead, as the name suggests, the candidate is required to type in the answer for the given question based on their understanding. Based on past trends, the VARC section will contain around 5 non-MCQ or TITA questions.

CAT 2024 comprises 66 questions that must be answered in 2 hours. For each section, candidates are given 40 minutes. Given below are the the sections:

  • Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension: 24 questions
  • Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning: 20 questions
  • Quantitative Aptitude: 22 questions


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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