CAT Exam Syllabus

The IIMs do not release an official CAT Exam syllabus. The syllabus is mostly limited to the mathematics and English topics learned in school. Thus, the syllabus is generalised and candidates must aim to cover as many topics as possible. Based on previous papers and analysis, the most common topics and questions can be deduced. The CAT exam syllabus is divided into 3 sections:

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

It is important to note that the current exam pattern of the CAT exam is a two-hour computer-based test. Each of the three sections is allotted 40 minutes each and candidates must respond to the answers within the given time frame.

The VARC section focuses on topics of English such as grammar, reading comprehension, inferences and verbal reasoning. On the other hand, DILR requires interpretation of data through the data provided in the form of graphs, charts and arrangements. The QA section of the CAT exam syllabus includes topics of middle school mathematics including algebra, arithmetic, geometry, modern math etc.

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CAT Exam Syllabus: Overview

The CAT 2022 Exam is a Computer Based Test (CBT). The exam pattern for the exam has changed in the previous years owing to the pandemic. So, here is a breakup of the syllabus according to the exam pattern-

Time allotted

2 hours

Total No. of Questions

66

No. of Questions Section-wise

VARC: 24

DILR: 20

QA: 22

Time allotted per section

40 minutes each

Mode of Examination

Computer-based

Medium of Examination

English

Note: For PwD candidates, the total time to complete each section of the CAT Exam is 53 minutes and 20 seconds.

Read in detail: CAT Study Material

CAT Exam Syllabus: Weightage

Given the vastness of the CAT Exam Syllabus, aspirants need to understand how to maximise their scores in each section. Therefore, picking up the right questions and ensuring that the attempt accuracy is high will ensure that you score well in the CAT Exam. Here is a list of the topics a candidate should cover in each section of the exam.

CAT Syllabus Sections

Topics

Weightage for 2022

Verbal Ability

Para jumbles, Para summary, and Inferences

10%

Reading Comprehension

RC passages

24%

Logical Reasoning

Blood Relations, Syllogism, Directions, Clocks & Calendars, Logical Connectives and Sequences

16%

Data Interpretation

Tables, Graphs, Charts and other forms of visualization

16%

Quantitative Aptitude

Geometry, Trigonometry, Averages, Percentages, Number Systems, Arithmetic, Mensuration

34%

CAT Exam Syllabus: Section-wise Analysis

The CAT 2022 Exam Pattern gives us a good idea about how to go about preparing for CAT 2022. Going through each topic that is likely to be included in the CAT Exam Syllabus will help each aspirant devise their own list of strengths and weaknesses and accordingly prepare a study plan for CAT 2022.

Syllabus for CAT VARC

The VARC section is the first section of the exam which must be completed in 40 minutes. The Reading Comprehension part of the section dominates with approximately 70% weightage of the total score of this section. Given below are the topics that should be covered for the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Section (VARC)-

Jumbled Paragraph

Reading Comprehension

Facts-Inferences-Judgements

Summary Questions

Verbal Reasoning


CAT VARC Syllabus: Analysis

Verbal Ability

For the past few years the section has focused majorly on 3 types of questions:

1. Summary Questions

  • Small passage (80-100 words) with 4 options
  • The objective is to find the best summary of the passage.
  • In these types of questions, the key is usually to find the options that do not contradict the passage in any manner.
  • Once you are able to eliminate the other options, the right answer will emerge.

2. Jumbled Paragraph Questions

  • These are usually TITA, which means that there is no margin for error.
  • In these types of questions, there are 4-5 sentences given out of order.
  • Together they form a paragraph, and the aspirant has to find the order which best suits the group of sentences. To answer these kinds of questions.
  • The first thing that each aspirant needs to do is identify the first and last sentence of the paragraph.
  • This is usually quite easy since the first sentence introduces a topic while the last sentence makes some kind of a judgment or conclusion.
  • Following this, the first sentence should lead to the second sentence, and so on and so forth.

3. Odd Sentence in Paragraph Jumbles

  • Like jumbles paragraph questions, it has also been a TITA question for the past 3-4 years.
  • The objective is to identify the sentence, which does not match the theme established in the rest of the paragraph.
  • These questions may be easy or difficult, depending on how they are presented.
  • In easy questions, the sentence will talk about something completely different from the theme of the rest of the passage.
  • In difficult questions, the sentence will be on the same topic as the rest of the passage but will slightly differ in terms of the opinion being offered or the theme being set.
  • It is also possible for the sentence to introduce a topic within the theme which is not pursued further.
Reading Comprehension
  • The Reading Comprehension consists of questions based on passages in the exam. 
  • The questions are generally of three types: Fact-based, Inference-based, and Vocabulary-based. The vocabulary-based questions have already been discussed above.
  • The CAT 2021 RC section included more inferential questions than CAT 2020, which made the section slightly more complex in terms of the level of difficulty. The same can be expected from CAT 2022.
  • The fact-based questions, as the name suggests, demand answers on the basis of facts mentioned in the passage. They are usually the easiest questions in the section.
  • The Inference-based questions are slightly trickier since the aspirant has to deduce the tone and theme of the author before answering these questions. In CAT 2018 and CAT 2019, these types of questions have been fairly limited.

Syllabus for CAT DILR

The second section of the CAT exam, the DILR section is the most undefined as compared to the other sections in the CAT Exam Syllabus. The two sub-sections of the DILR Syllabus are:

Data Interpretation: Data will be presented in the form of a graph, chart, or another form of visualisation and you will be required to solve the questions given based on the information given.

Logical Reasoning: Here you may be given information in a non-structured manner and you may be required to structure it and derive the outcome to solve the questions given.

Given below are the major topics that are covered under this section-

Tables

Caselets

Logical Sequence

Bar Graphs

Line Charts

Syllogism

Column Graphs

Venn Diagrams

Logical Connectives

Pie Charts

Calendars

Blood Relations

Number and Letter Series

Clocks

Binary Logic

Cubes

Seating Arrangement

Logical Matching

The number of questions in the DI and LR sub-sections are generally equally distributed, which means that the students who are more comfortable in one of the sub-sections can still clear the cut-off if they attempt that part of the CAT 2022 Paper well.

However, the CAT DILR Section has been changing slightly in recent years. The questions are a combination of DI and LR rather than the regimented, separate DI and LR questions that were tested earlier.

CAT DILR Syllabus: Analysis

DILR was the trickiest section for aspirants in CAT 2016, CAT 2017 and CAT 2020, but the difficulty level was reduced in CAT 2018 and CAT 2019. One of the reasons for this difficulty is the unpredictability of the sections in terms of where the sets could be taken from. The CAT syllabus for the DILR section for CAT 2022 is:

CAT Syllabus 2022 Data Interpretation
  • The DI section of the CAT Syllabus consists of caselets and tables. These caselets have data in the form of bar graphs, column graphs, Venn diagrams, lines and pie charts.
  • In this section of the CAT Exam Syllabus, the aspirants will be asked to solve questions that are posed based on the data given in the above formats. In order to solve these questions, the data has to be structured in the most intuitive manner so that the questions can be solved.
  • In certain questions, there will be variables that have to be left untouched since they may be provided in the questions.
  • The only way to prepare for this section in the CAT exam is to solve as many problems as possible and go through the previous years’ CAT Exam Papers.
CAT Logical Reasoning Syllabus 2022
  • The topics for Logical Reasoning in the CAT syllabus across the years consist of numbers and sequences, arrangements, syllogisms, logical sequences, blood relations, calendars, cubes, and clocks.
  • The questions are usually arranged with a combination of the other topics. 
  • The number of topics for reasoning is quite numerous and the combination can lead to very tricky sets. This can be one of the reasons that CAT 2015 and CAT 2016 were considered to have difficult DILR sections. The reasoning topics can lead to very complicated sets when combined with each other.
  • The major concern with solving LR questions is not to solve them, but to solve them as expeditiously as possible.

Syllabus for CAT QA

The CAT QA Syllabus has the maximum portion since it covers everything related to mathematics that one studies till school. Some of the major topics in the CAT QA Syllabus are:

  • Arithmetic: This topic covers the maximum number of questions in most of the CAT Exams and is a topic that all students should prepare for.
  • Algebra: This topic has the second-highest weightage in terms of the questions asked in the CAT Exam.
  • Numbers: These are topics that are regularly tested in the CAT Exam and every aspirant should be clear about the basics of the topics to not lose out on easy marks.
  • Geometry: This is another regularly tested topic that consists of Geometry, Coordinate Geometry and Mensuration. Having a basic knowledge of the topic will allow aspirants to attempt at least a few questions from the topic in the CAT 2022 Exam.

Number Systems

HCF & LCM

Profit, Loss and Discount

Speed, Time & Distance

Percentages

Simple and Compound Interest

  • Averages

Ratio & Proportion

Time & Work 

  • Linear Equations

  • Quadratic Equations

  • Complex Numbers

  • Logarithm

  • Sequence and Series

  • Inequalities

  • Surds & Indices

  • Probability

  • Permutation and Combination

  • Set Theory & Function

  • Coordinate Geometry

  • Geometry

  • Mixtures and Alligations

  • Mensuration

  • Trigonometry

CAT DILR Syllabus: Analysis

The vast number of topics in the CAT syllabus means that it needs to be broken up into more manageable chunks. The sub-sections in the CAT Exam Syllabus of QA may be broken down to:

  • Commercial Maths
  • Arithmetic
  • Geometry
  • Algebra
  • Trigonometry
  • Alligations and Mixtures

Here are a few tips about each of the topics-

  • Commercial mathematics is reasonably easy to prepare for since the number of questions is limited and the formulae to be learnt are fairly straightforward.
  • Arithmetic is also fairly basic and should be easy to prepare for. Most of the topics in Arithmetic are of Class X level and the only trick is to solve them as fast as possible.
  • Geometry has several rules, and finding the most important geometry rules would allow the aspirant to solve these problems as fast as possible.
  • Algebra and Trigonometry may be used in conjunction with other topics or may be tested in the CAT 2022 Exam. Sequence and Series is a topic that is occasionally tested in CAT and regularly in other MBA Entrance Exams. With practice, the questions in this topic can be easily solved.
  • Alignments and mixes are similar to sequences and mixes in the sense that they are occasionally tested in CAT. It is fairly easy to solve problems of this type with the right guidance.

Best Books For CAT Preparation

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In-Depth Look at The CAT 2022 VARC Syllabus

Let us look at the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension section by breaking it into its components and understanding the CAT Syllabus for each subsection. Some of the significant details about the CAT Syllabus of the VARC section are:

CAT Syllabus 2022 Verbal Ability

The Verbal Ability section over the past 3-4 years has focused majorly on 3 types of questions:

  • Summary Questions
  • Jumbled Paragraphs
  • Odd sentences in Paragraph Jumbles.

The Summary questions usually consist of:

  • Small passage (80-100 words) with 4 options
  • The objective is to find the best summary of the passage.
  • In these types of questions, the key is usually to find the options that do not contradict the passage in any manner.
  • Once you are able to eliminate the other options, the right answer will emerge.

The jumbled paragraph questions are usually TITA, which means that there is no margin for error.

  • In these types of questions, there are 4-5 sentences given out of order.
  • Together they form a paragraph, and the aspirant has to find the order which best suits the group of sentences. To answer these kinds of questions,
  • The first thing that each aspirant needs to do is identify the first and last sentence of the paragraph.
  • This is usually quite easy since the first sentence introduces a topic while the last sentence makes some kind of a judgment or conclusion.
  • Following this, the first sentence should lead to the second sentence, and so on and so forth.

The Odd Sentence in Paragraph Jumbles has also been a TITA question for the past 3-4 years:

  • The objective is to identify the sentence, which does not match the theme established in the rest of the paragraph.
  • These questions may be easy or difficult, depending on how they are presented.
  • In easy questions, the sentence will talk about something completely different from the theme of the rest of the passage.
  • In difficult questions, the sentence will be on the same topic as the rest of the passage but will slightly differ in terms of the opinion being offered or the theme being set.
  • It is also possible for the sentence to introduce a topic within the theme which is not pursued further.

CAT Exam Syllabus for Reading Comprehension 2022

The Reading Comprehension consists of questions based on passages in the exam. The questions are generally of three types: Fact-based, Inference-based, and Vocabulary-based. The vocabulary-based questions have already been discussed above. However, the CAT 2021 RC section included more inferential questions than CAT 2020, which made the section slightly more complex in terms of the level of difficulty. The same can be expected from CAT 2022.

The fact-based questions, as the name suggests, demand answers on the basis of facts mentioned in the passage. They are usually the easiest questions in the section.

The Inference-based questions are slightly trickier since the aspirant has to deduce the tone and theme of the author before answering these questions. In CAT 2018 and CAT 2019, these types of questions have been fairly limited.

An in-depth examination of the CAT 2022 DILR Syllabus

DILR was the trickiest section for aspirants in CAT 2016, CAT 2017 and CAT 2020, but the difficulty level was reduced in CAT 2018 and CAT 2019. One of the reasons for this difficulty is the unpredictability of the sections in terms of where the sets could be taken from. The CAT syllabus for the DILR section for CAT 2022 is:

CAT Syllabus 2022 Data Interpretation

The DI section of the CAT Syllabus consists of caselets and tables. These caselets have data in the form of bar graphs, column graphs, Venn diagrams, lines and pie charts.

In this section of the CAT Syllabus, the aspirants will be asked to solve questions that are posed based on the data given in the above formats. In order to solve these questions, the data has to be structured in the most intuitive manner so that the questions can be solved. In certain questions, there will be variables that have to be left untouched since they may be provided in the questions. The only way to prepare for this section in the CAT exam is to solve as many problems as possible and go through the previous years’ CAT Exam Papers.

CAT Logical Reasoning Syllabus 2022

The topics for Logical Reasoning in the CAT syllabus across the years consist of numbers and sequences, arrangements, syllogisms, logical sequences, blood relations, calendars, cubes, and clocks. The questions are usually arranged with a combination of the other topics. As can be seen, the number of topics for reasoning is quite numerous and the combination can lead to very tricky sets. This can be one of the reasons that CAT 2015 and CAT 2016 were considered to have difficult DILR sections. The reasoning topics can lead to very complicated sets when combined with each other.

The major concern with solving LR questions is not to solve them, but to solve them as expeditiously as possible.

In-Depth Look at CAT Syllabus 2022 for Quantitative Ability

The QA syllabus for CAT 2022 is quite vast and has been compiled according to CL's experts:

  • 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

The vast number of topics in the CAT syllabus means that it needs to be broken up into more manageable chunks. The sub-sections in the CAT Syllabus of QA may be broken down to:

  • Commercial Maths
  • Arithmetic
  • Geometry
  • Algebra
  • Trigonometry
  • Sequences and Series
  • Alligations and Mixtures

Commercial mathematics is reasonably easy to prepare for since the number of questions is limited and the formulae to be learnt are fairly straightforward.

Arithmetic is also fairly basic and should be easy to prepare for. Most of the topics in Arithmetic are of Class X level and the only trick is to solve them as fast as possible.

Geometry has several rules, and finding the most important geometry rules would allow the aspirant to solve these problems as fast as possible.

Algebra and Trigonometry may be used in conjunction with other topics or may be tested in the CAT 2022 Exam. Sequence and Series is a topic that is occasionally tested in CAT and regularly in other MBA Entrance Exams. With practice, the questions in this topic can be easily solved.

Alignments and mixes are similar to sequences and mixes in the sense that they are occasionally tested in CAT. It is fairly easy to solve problems of this type with the right guidance.

Best Books For CAT Preparation

CAT 2021 Evaluation

Apart from the basic CAT exam syllabus, it might be useful to have a look at the CAT 2021 and CAT 2020 to set a benchmark.

  • The CAT 2020 Exam Pattern was modified due to the COVID Pandemic. The time limit for CAT 2020 was reduced to 2 hours with 40 minutes given to each section. Thus, CAT 2021 also followed the same pattern as CAT 2020.
  • However, the number of questions in CAT 2021 was modified slightly, with 24 questions in VARC, 20 questions in DILR and 22 questions in QA. The difficulty varied across the slots based on the different sections.
  • The exam pattern for CAT 2020 had a total of 76 questions, with 26 questions in VARC, 24 questions in DILR, and 26 questions in QA. The difficulty level varied somewhat with each slot.
  • The overall difficulty of CAT 2021 was higher than CAT 2020. The VARC was trickier in CAT 2021 as compared to CAT 2020 while DILR and QA shared a similar pattern and level of difficulty for both years.

Detailed Analysis of CAT 2021 & CAT 2020

In Conclusion

There is no CAT Exam Syllabus which is explicitly mentioned on the CAT Official Website due to the fact that CAT does occasionally pull a surprise on the candidates. However, every question in the CAT Exam is solvable since it tests the candidates' knowledge of the basics. Therefore, every candidate should ensure that they are thorough in terms of their preparation for the basics. If the aspirant prepares according to the CAT syllabus, the room for unpleasant surprises is greatly reduced.

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