CAT 2020: Exam Dates, Eligibility, Syllabus & Preparation Tips

  • By Christy J. Varghese
  • 7 September 2020

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The CAT exam remains one of the most popular exams in the country to seek admission into a PGP or a fellowship program in an MBA. CAT is not only a gateway to secure a seat in well-known institutions like IIM’s (Indian Institute of Management), IIT’s(Indian Institute of Technology), IIsc, etc. but it could also make you eligible for admission into a multitude of other respected management Institutions across India. The CAT full form is - Central Ability Test. CAT exams commenced in the year 1950 and remain one of the foremost choices for MBA aspirants.

CAT 2020: Important Dates 

  • According to CAT notification, the CAT exam date 2020 is 29th, November 2020.
  • The Exam will be conducted in two slots i.e. morning and evening.
  • CAT 2020 registration started at 5th, August 2020
  •  CAT last date to apply 16th, October 2020
  • Admit card download starts at 28th, October 2020
  • CAT exam time for morning slot ie. slot 1 is 9 AM to 12 Noon.
  • Timing for slot 2 is 2:30 PM to 5:30 PM.

CAT 2020 Eligibility 

  • Anyone with a valid graduation degree with a minimum of 50%[45% for students belonging to Scheduled Caste(SC), Scheduled Tribe(ST) or Persons With Disability (PwD) category] or an equivalent qualification recognized by Ministry of Human Resource Department(HRD) can apply for CAT exam.
  • Candidates who will be appearing for final year exams of their bachelor's degree are eligible for CAT 2020. Also, students who have taken their final year exam and awaiting their result can apply.

CAT 2020 Fees

SC/ST/PWD Rs 1000/- 

What is the CAT 2020 Syllabus? 

CAT Exam syllabus is not codified or particularly defined by IIM’s, so it can only draw inference from CAT previous year papers. For students appearing for various competitive exams, it remains necessary that they thoroughly make themselves acquainted with the pattern and syllabus of the examination concerned. CAT exam pattern Is structured in such a manner so that the verbal ability, quantitative aptitude, and mathematical skill of the aspirants can be efficiently tested. These are tested through an exam that is conducted online, where students can use the calculator on the computer.

 Mode Of Examination  Online
 Number Of Questions  100
 Nature Of Questions  Both MCQ and Non-MCQpractising 
 Time Allotted  180 Mins
 Medium Of Examination  English

Certain other pointers that students must in mind for CAT syllabus 2020 are-

  • 3 marks are awarded to students for each correct answer
  • 1 mark is deducted for each wrong MCQ questions
  • However, no marks are deducted for non-MCQ questions.
  • No negative marking is there for unattempted questions in CAT marking scheme.

In the CAT examination, there is sectional allotment of time. This means that different time slots are provided to attempt different sections. There are a total of three sections in total, that being-

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

60 minutes are provided to each student to answer each of the sections. When it comes to the CAT exam pattern the distribution of marks and number of questions in each section is given below in the tabular form.

Section Number of Questions  Time Allotted 
Quantitative Aptitude 34 60 Minutes 
Data Interpretation And Logical Reasoning 34 60 Minutes 
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension  32 60 Minutes 

NOTE- More than 20 questions are expected to be non- MCQ’s and they could be asked from any of the four sections.

Section Wise Syllabus For CAT 2020

For students appearing for the CAT exam 2020, it is highly imperative to get to know the CAT course of each section in detail. They must prepare separately for each section. As preparations differ from student to student depending upon their capability and knowledge, students must self-analyze and start working on their weaker parts right away.

  1. Data Interpretation And Logical Reasoning Syllabus
    DILR is the section that must grab the attention of the students in the initial part of their preparations as it requires a lot of practice and students can reasonably expect to master this section if sufficient time and effort are devoted to it. This section is known to be the section that could decide the fate of the candidate and students must also expect surprises in this section.

Usually, it had 2 sets, with 2 sets each devoted to data interpretation and

logical reasoning topics. However, last year 4 sets were from Data

Interpretation while 3 sets were related to reasoning syllabus, and 1 set was

devoted to each set. Here we have framed a list of important topics relating to:

  • Data sufficiency
  • Graph related
  • Seating arrangements
  • Data arrangements
  • Clocks and calendars
  • Syllogism
  • Venn diagram
  •  Assumption
  •  Binary logic
  • Tables
  • Blood relations
  • Puzzles
  • Pie charts
  • Caselets

Expected Level Of Difficulty- An analysis of previous year CAT exam question paper shows that students must expect a difficulty level ranging from moderately hard to difficult exam.

Preparation Tips For Data Interpretation And Logical Reasoning

  • Read Newspapers And Periodicals- Students must develop the habit of reading newspapers and other relevant business periodicals regularly. It would not only make them familiar with the ongoing trends but would also make them capable of analyzing various pie charts, graphs, etc. business periodicals often contain meticulous analyses of these statistics which would prove useful for the students.

  • Practice Mock Tests-Students must outrightly start to regularly practice CAT mock tests and CAT exam sample papers. It not only proves to be a useful and efficient way of acquainting students with the pattern of the examination but would also equip them to learn time management during the examination.
  • Read Question Paper- While solving CAT mock tests DILR section, students must not immediately start by attempting the questions but should initially devote at least ten minutes of their time to go through the CAT exam paper. It would prove to be helpful when students finally start to solve the paper as a student can mentally take note of the sections that would need more of their attention.
  • Avoid Getting Stuck- Another important thing to keep in mind while solving a mock test is to try to avoid getting stuck while solving it. If they are not able to solve some particular parts, they must skip it without wasting their time.
  • Identify Sets- When attempting the DILR section, students must start by identifying the sets that are easier to solve. They must start by solving these sets as would help them to build confidence when they start to solve the paper.
  • Self Analyze- After practising previous year papers students must self analyze themselves. They must mark there weak points as well as their strengths. Start by categorizing the type of questions you find yourself at ease with the most. It would help you to provide direction to your preparations.

  1. Quantitative Aptitude Syllabus

    Quantitative aptitude is the section that students usually find themselves most apprehensive about. Though this section is a tough nut to crack, nonetheless students can prepare an effective strategy and must constantly practice to ace this part of the examination. Very little change has been observed in the syllabus of this part of the examination. Quantitative aptitude meaning relates to the ability of the student to handle numbers and analysis of various quantities.

  • Quant questions are mostly based on mathematics till the level of 10th class, however, a few divergences are there.
  • It is speculated that this section will carry around 5-7 non MCQ, and the rest will be objective type questions.
  •  It is a test that aims to assess the mathematical skills as well as the speed and accuracy of the students.

Quantitative aptitude topics are provided below. 

                  TOPICS                             SUB-TOPICS
Arithmetic HCF, LCM, Time And Work, Distance, Percentage, Number System
Calculus Functions, Maxima-minima
Trigonometry Distance And Heights
Mensuration Area And Volume Of Triangle, Square, Spheres Etc.
Geometry Angles, Triangles, Squares, Lines
Algebra Permutation And Combination, Sequence And Series Theory Of Equations

In CAT quantitative ability there are going to be 34 questions from this section. Analysis of previous year trends makes it apparent that most weightage is given to arithmetic. After this more weightage is given to modern maths followed by topics like geometry and algebra. Students must focus more on these sections. Most of the questions are
limited to general topics like profit and loss, work and time, number system, etc.
Expected Level Of Difficulty: Most of the questions in this section are of moderate difficulty. However, there are a few difficult questions for couples with easy ones.

Preparation Tips For Quantitative Aptitude

  • Clear Your Basics- Students must start their preparations with the brushing up of the basics. All of the questions are based on certain basic concepts. So when you start practising make sure that you devote time to solving different types of questions and try to assess which mathematical principles are they based upon. If students approach it this way they would not only save a lot of their time but would also make them much more efficient in solving questions. Being thorough with the basics is a base for the strong foundation to build in quantitative aptitude.
  • Practice Regularly- Once students get their basic concepts clear they must start practising moderately difficult questions. It would prove to be effective not only because the majority of questions asked in this section are of moderate difficulty but it would also bridge the gap between easy and difficult questions. Scores are computed in percentile, so you must perform better than other students. So practising constantly would provide you with the extra edge over other students.

  • Work Smartly- Once you have developed an approach for solving different types of questions, you must start incorporating shortcuts and tricks. It would help you to save a great amount of time Employing the logical approach, along with important shortcuts, tricks, and formulae will ensure that you solve the problems in a quick & efficient way.
  • Focus On Weak Areas- After a considerable amount of time devoted to practising students must mark the areas they find themselves weak at. They must devote more of their time and effort to these parts. You don’t have to develop expertise in these parts but should be able to solve questions of moderate difficulty with ease.
  •  Practice Mock Tests- An essential part of the preparation for any competitive exams involving various mock tests. Numerous such mock tests can be found online. Practising mock tests would ensure that you do well with time management and gain more accuracy.

  1. Verbal Ability And Reading Comprehension

  • This section tries to assess students' verbal ability and language comprehension skills. Many students could find difficulty acing CAT English; however, they can reasonably expect to master this section by regular practice.
  • VARC section can be divided into two parts i.e. verbal ability and reading comprehension. Analysis of previous year paper shows that considerably more weightage is given to reading comprehension.
  • Here we shall make a detailed analysis of various sub-topics in this section-
    1. Reading Comprehension

While attempting this section, students must not rush and must focus on reading every passage very carefully. Students can score impressively well in this section.

- Fact-Based Questions- In these types of questions, students are given a passage based on which certain factual questions are asked which students are required to answer correctly. These questions are the easiest in this section. Students must avoid making careless mistakes while attempting this part. These questions are generally in the form of –

  • According to the passage…
  • The passage states that…
  • Which out of the following is true or false?
  • According to the author, what is…..?

·       - Inference Based Questions- Inferences can be best described as

indirect conclusions i.e. they are not explicitly stated. These questions require reading between the lines and correct comprehension of the passage. This section particularly requires more exercise as questions can be complex in nature and accuracy must be achieved through consistent practising.

These questions are generally in the form of –

  • It can be inferred from the passage…..
  • The sentence implies that “……….”
  • The passage uses ______ to imply that ______"
  • What can be inferred when the author states_____?"

- Central Idea Questions – Central idea refers to the central idea of the

passage. This section again would require consistent practice. These questions are generally in the form of-

  • In the passage, the author is primarily interested in:
  • The passage is chiefly concerned with:
  • The primary focus of this passage is on which of the following?

b. Verbal Ability

Much less, weightage is given to this subsection than reading comprehension however; this section can be easily mastered with a well-prepared strategy. Questions can be broadly categorized into the following categories-

  • Para Summary Questions- These questions are similar to Central idea based questions in RC. This section requires a one-line summary of the given paragraph.
  • Critical Reasoning Questions- These questions are similar to inference based questions asked in RC. This requires a thorough understanding of the given paragraph. Students must sharpen their skills to analyze language.
  • Odd One Out- Odd one out questions are the one in which a student needs to pick an option from the five given options which does not fit into the paragraph, formed by the other four statements.
  • Getting the correct answer students must focus on the logical flow of ideas.
  • Vocabulary Based Questions-  These questions are usually dreaded by the students. These questions involve complex words, which students find difficult. Students must develop a habit of reading a lot and writing down words they find difficult.

Preparation Tips For Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension 

  • ·Develop Reading Habit- For CAT English preparation, the most effective way of effectively tackling your apprehensions relating to VARC is to read a lot. Students must develop a healthy ready habit for reading at least for an hour. They can read through a lot of diverse material ranging from periodicals to novels.
  • Diversify Your Study Material- For effectively answering CAT English questions students must try to read from a lot of different sources. IT would be a golden opportunity to get acquainted with a lot of new words.
  • Read Carefully – While attempting questions students must read the passage meticulously and carefully before jumping on to the questions. This would avoid you from leading into confusion. You should focus on trying to analyze what the writer is trying to convey.

What Does It Take to Crack CAT 2020? 

We would like to re-emphasize that students must carefully understand the CAT 2020 syllabus, in detail for each of the sections. Students must evolve an efficacious strategy, depending upon their strengths and weaknesses. They should introspect as to which section would require the most of their time and which sections they find themselves at ease with. No section or topic should be left out, to ace the CAT exam 2020.

For more CAT exam details, students can visit the CAT official website here.

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