CAT 2021: Exam Pattern | Expected Cut-off | Preparation Tips

Know how to prepare for the CAT 2021 exam from our Expert as he discusses the CAT Exam Pattern, the difficulty level of questions, and expected CAT Cut-Offs for this year. Get some handy tips on how to build a constructive preparation plan for CAT 2021.

Created On: Aug 4, 2021 15:18 IST
Modified On: Sep 27, 2021 15:23 IST

With CAT 2021 dates already announced, MBA aspirants have started preparing for the most important MBA Entrance Exam in India. But, before you chalk out your CAT Preparation strategy, you must know and understand if there are any key changes or surprises that you must be ready for. To help you figure this out, invited Mr. Alok Bansal – Ex-Director of IMS, to discuss all the important aspects of the CAT 2021 Exam. Mr. Bansal discussed the CAT 2021 Exam Pattern, the difficulty level of questions, and expected CAT Cut-Offs for this year. He also shared about the selection process of IIMs and how candidates should prepare for the exam according to the IIM Selection Policy. In addition, he also shared some handy tips to help you build a constructive preparation plan for CAT Exam 2021.

CAT Exam Pattern

Mr. Bansal enlightened the students by sharing the fact that for the CAT exam, each aspirant has to face competition from approximately 2 Lakh students who vie to get a seat in the premium colleges, precisely IIMs. Therefore, it becomes important for the aspirants to understand every detail about the CAT MBA entrance exam. The registrations for the CAT exam commenced from 4th August and will last till mid-September i.e. 15th September 2021. This year the CAT exam is scheduled to be held on 28th November and it will be conducted in two slots.

As far as the morning or evening slot is concerned, there won't be any difference in the CAT exam in terms of the difficulty level of the questions to be asked in the exam. Candidates cannot choose the slots in which they wish to appear for the exam. The slots are allocated as per the discretion of the exam conducting body.

Coming to the exam pattern, Mr. Bansal shares that the CAT exam comprises of three sections namely VA and RC, which is Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension. The VA&RC section comprises 34 questions followed by the Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning section, comprising 32 questions. The last is the Quantitative Aptitude section that carries 34 questions. Candidates cannot switch between the sections and have to attempt the sections in the sequence shared above.

To attempt each section, 60 minutes will be allotted to the candidate. This implies that overall 180 minutes will be allotted to the candidate to attempt the CAT MBA entrance exam.

Each question asked in the CAT exam is of 3 marks each. If the candidate chooses an incorrect option, there is 1/3rd negative marking in the exam. The marking scheme mentioned above is for the objective type questions (MCQs) that carry four options for each question. However, there is another section in the exam that carries 'TITA questions'. For the ‘TITA’ questions, no options will be provided. These are descriptive questions for which you will have to type the answer. The good news is, for TITA questions, there is no negative marking. Therefore, candidates must prepare and attempt these questions to score a high percentile in the exam.

CAT 2021 Expected Cutoff

Apart from the CAT exam pattern, another important aspect that Mr. Alok focused on is the CAT Expected cut-off. Candidates who appear for the exam are curious to know the cut-off score at which they will receive a call from the IIMs. In this regard, Mr. Bansal shares past trends of CAT 2017, 2018 where candidates with 100 percentile scored around 220 to 230 marks in the CAT Exam.

However, the marks scored in the CAT Exam to get 100 percentile also depend upon the year in which the candidate attempted the exam and the level of difficulty of the CAT Exam. Candidates aiming to score 95 percentile should aim to score around 150 -160 marks in the upcoming CAT exam.

About IIM Selection Process

This year, CAT 2021 is being organized by IIM Kozhikode. All the Indian Institute of Management - IIMs have specified that apart from the performance of the candidate in the CAT exam, aspects such as diversity factor, and past academic performance will also be taken into consideration. Mr. Alok shares that IIM Ahmadabad looks at the 10th Score, 12th Score, and graduation score of an applicant and also considers the stream in which they have graduated.

Candidates will also be assessed on the basis of their performance in the WAT (Written Ability Test) and personal interview (PI). Therefore, candidates should read the instructions carefully when applying for the CAT exam and the IIMs.

Tips to prepare for the D-Day

Mr. Bansal gives a valuable piece of advice to the CAT aspirants saying that "as a CAT aspirant, go with a mind and attempt the paper very well to ensure that you get a seat at these premium colleges and you give wings to your dreams."  

If you like this video, then please share it with your friends and the ones preparing for CAT 2021. For more such videos, keep visiting the MBA section of

Mr. Alok Bansal is a reputed Career Counsellor and Study Abroad Expert in the field of Education. He has a demonstrated history of working in various verticals of the education sector for over 15 years. His areas of expertise include Test Prep, College Admissions, eLearning, and Executive Education. He currently leads Alethia Education Services - an executive education solutions company, as Founder and CEO. In the past, he has led IMS Learning Resources – a leading MBA Test Prep Portal, as a Director and Business Partner.

Use CAT Percentile Predictor 2021 to know your estimated CAT cut offs and predict calls from IIMs and Non-IIMs accepting CAT score for admission.

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