CAT Exam Pattern 2023: Latest Section-Wise Paper Pattern, Total Marks, Marking Scheme, Duration, Weightage

CAT Exam Pattern 2023: Latest Section-Wise Paper Pattern, Total Marks, Marking Scheme, Duration, Weightage

ByVijay Kumar  |  Updated on: Nov 27, 2023
IIMCAT will declare CAT Exam Pattern 2023 tentatively by the last week of July 2023. Know the section-wise CAT Exam Pattern, marking scheme, and sectional weightage for VARC, DILR & QA.

CAT Exam Pattern 2023 will be released tentatively by July 2023 last week. The conducting authority will declare the CAT Exam Pattern 2023 and other details along with the exam notification. The IIM CAT designs the CAT paper pattern to evaluate the aptitude and logical reasoning skills of the candidates easily. CAT Exam Pattern has been revised many times in previous years by IIMs.

Earlier, the CAT exam time was 180 minutes along with 100 questions in total. But, due to covid-19 in 2020, the total number of questions was reduced to 76. The CAT exam duration was also reduced to 120 minutes. In 2021, CAT Exam Pattern was again modified and a total of 66 questions were asked.

This same CAT Exam Pattern was followed in 2022. So, you can expect the same paper pattern for the upcoming exam. Read the section below to download the latest CAT Exam Pattern 2023 PDF, including the paper structure, sections, time, marking scheme, and many more.

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What is CAT Exam Pattern 2023?

The exam conducting body designs CAT Pattern every year to test candidates' ability to solve reasoning and mathematical problems accurately in the least amount of time. As per the official CAT Exam Pattern, there are 3 exam sections:

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

Last year, a total of 66 questions were asked and the total exam duration was 120 with 40 minutes sectional time limit. CAT Exam Pattern is designed in such a way that authority can easily test candidates' logical and mathematical skills. So, if you are appearing for the upcoming exam must check CAT Paper Pattern 2023 and understand it well.

The candidates who are appearing in CAT Exam 2023, should be well-versed with all the details of exam pattern, sections, topic-wise weightage, marking scheme, and more. As per the official CAT Exam pattern, you will face both MCQs and TITA questions. There will be CAT Negative Marking also: For every incorrect answer, a -1 mark will be deducted, and +3 marks will be awarded for every correct answer (both MCQs and TITA)

CAT Exam Pattern PDF

The PDF contains all the details about the CAT Paper Pattern & syllabus. Check the number of questions in each section, marking scheme, sectional marking and time, and negative marking.

CAT Exam Pattern 2023 PDF Download

CAT Paper Pattern Highlights

We have tabulated an overview of the expected CAT Exam Pattern 2023 below. You can expect the same paper pattern for the upcoming exam.

CAT Exam Pattern - Highlights

Exam Section

3 Sections:

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)

Quantitative Ability (QA)

Time Duration as per CAT Exam Pattern

2 Hours (40 Minutes CAT Sectional Timing)

Section-wise CAT Exam Time Limit

40 Minutes for each section / 53 Minutes 20 Seconds for each section for PwD candidates

Slot-wise Session timings

Slot 1: 8:30 am - 10:30 pm (Morning Session)

Slot 2: 12:30 pm - 2:30 pm (Afternoon Session)

Slot 3: 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm (Evening Session)

Number of Questions

66 Questions (48 MCQs and 18 Non-MCQs)

NOTE: Expected to be 66 questions as per CAT pattern 2021

CAT total marks

198 Marks (Expected)



Question types


Mode of the CAT Exam

Computer-Based Mode (CBT)

CAT Marking Scheme

For every right answer, +3 will be awarded

For every wrong answer in MCQs, -1 will be deducted

No Negative Marking - Non-MCQs (TITA Questions)

[Important Note: Due to covid-19 pandemic, the total number of questions was reduced to 76 in 2020. However, in 2021, the number of questions was again reduced from 76 to 66, which remained unchanged in 2022]

☛ Go through the previous years' CAT Cut Off and get an idea of the range of marks that you need to score to be selected for the final selection round.

CAT Marking Scheme

The marking scheme is different for both MCQ and TITA questions. As per the official CAT Exam Pattern, for every correct answer, +3 marks will be awarded for both MCQs and Non-MCQs. But, negative marking is only applicable for MCQ questions and a -1 mark will be deducted for every wrong answer. There is no negative marking for TITA and unattempted questions.

Take a look at the table below for a detailed overview of the CAT Exam Pattern marking scheme

Type of Questions

CAT Marking Scheme

Negative Marking







Unattempted Answers

Not Applicable

Not Applicable

CAT Exam Pattern: How to Mark Answers?

Students should have a basic understanding of how to mark their answers in the CAT. When answering questions, candidates should consider the following options, as per the official details of the CAT Exam Pattern:

  • Save and Next: Candidates should choose one answer, save it, and then go on to the next one. The candidates must check their CAT Results and whether they have cleared the exam.
  • Clear Response: Candidates can delete their responses to the question they answered. Know Is CAT Exam Tough?
  • Mark for Review and Next: If a candidate is unsure about an answer, they can mark it for review, answer it, and then move on to the next question.

[Important Note: Please use the provided mouse when answering questions. The computer screen will be locked if you use the system keyboard.]

☛ Solve CAT Previous Year Papers to get a clear idea of the pattern, sectional weightage, and topics to be studied.

What's New in CAT Exam Pattern 2023?

The conducting authority did not make any changes to CAT Paper Pattern in 2022 and it was the same as the 2021 exam. As per the latest CAT Pattern, there were 3 sections, including

CAT Exam Pattern: Section-wise Weightage (Expected)

As per the latest official data, there are 3 sections in CAT Exam. The total time duration is 120 minutes, with 40 minutes sectional time limit. The candidates must note that they cannot change the sequence of questions because the CAT Exam Pattern follows a set chronological order for three sections: VARC, after that DILR, followed by QA.

☛ Download the CAT Answer Key once it is released and check your performance in the exam.

You must complete each section of the CAT within the allotted time. Once the time is over, the screen will automatically move to the next segment. At a later point, no corrections or revisions will be permitted between the sections. Note the table below to be to get an idea of the overview of section-wise details of the expected CAT Exam Pattern 2023.

CAT Exam Pattern- sections

CAT Total Questions



Maximum Marks

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)





Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)





Quantitative Aptitude (QA)










[Important Note: For CAT 2022, this was the official section-by-section weightage. IIM Bangalore did not make any modifications to it in 2022]

Watch Videos on CAT Exam Pattern

Click on the video below to get a detailed analysis of the CAT pattern, conducted by our experts. It will help all the aspirants to know the latest CAT paper pattern along with the changes, that have been made in the past years.

CAT Exam Duration

There is a sectional time limit for each CAT exam section. Below are the sectional timings and slot-wise detail, as per the latest CAT Exam Pattern. Check expert tips for CAT Preparation to complete all the chapters and important topics of the syllabus on time.

The following are the three sessions and times for the exam:

  • Morning session (8:30 am - 10:30 pm)
  • Afternoon session (12:30 pm - 2:30 pm)
  • Evening session (4:30 pm - 6:30 pm)

Sections as per the CAT Exam Pattern

CAT Sectional Time

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)

40 Minutes

Quantitative Aptitude (QA)

40 Minutes

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)

40 Minutes


120 Minutes

[Important Note: 53 Minutes 20 Seconds for PwD candidates for each section.]

CAT Paper Pattern: Changes Over the Years

You may know that this computer-based test was launched in 2009, and earlier CAT Exam was conducted on pen and paper mode. Due to COVID-19, many adjustments were made to the CAT Exam Pattern, including the total number of questions and a shorter period of 40 minutes per section instead of 60 minutes.

From 2015 to 2019, the CAT Exam Pattern was slightly different. In the table below we have listed a short overview of the year-wise changes in the official CAT Paper Pattern.

☛ Get the list of CAT Books as per the expert's recommendation and complete the syllabus on time.


CAT Exam Pattern 2022

CAT Exam Pattern 2021

CAT Exam Paper Pattern 2020

CAT Exam Pattern 2019



Number of shifts as per CAT Exam Pattern

3 shifts

2 shifts

CAT Time Duration

40 Minutes

60 Minutes

Types of Questions

Both MCQ and TITA


CAT Exam Pattern Sections

Number of Questions




CAT Total Marks




CAT Marking Scheme

+3 Marks for every correct answer

No marks for unattempted answers

-1 mark for every wrong answer in MCQs.

No Negative Marking for Non-MCQs.

CAT Paper Pattern: Previous Year’s Trends

The changes in the CAT Exam Paper Pattern from 2011 to 2019 were made in terms of the number of questions and CAT time duration. But in 2020, the total number of questions was reduced to 76 and the exam duration was 2 hours. In 2021, the total number of questions was again reduced to 66 and this same CAT Exam Pattern was followed in 2022.

CAT Exam Year

Number of Question


CAT Conducting IIM



2 hours

IIM Bangalore



2 hours

IIM Ahmedabad



2 hours

IIM Indore



3 hours

IIM Kozhikode



3 hours

IIM Calcutta



3 hours

IIM Lucknow



3 hours

IIM Bangalore



3 hours

IIM Ahmedabad



2.50 hours

IIM Indore



2:20 hours

IIM Indore



2.20 hours

IIM Indore



2.20 hours

IIM Calcutta

CAT Exam Pattern: Important Points

Keep the below points in your mind while analyzing the CAT 2023 Exam Pattern.

  • The candidates can use an on-screen calculator for computation during the CAT.
  • There will be an onscreen clock to help the candidates keep a check on the time.
  • Rough sheets will be provided for rough work. The candidates have to submit before leaving the CAT exam hall.
  • As per the official CAT Exam Pattern, the candidates were not allowed to start the test before time. The computer screen will open only after the invigilator's announcement.
  • Candidates had to sit at their designated seats.

Navigate Between Sections while Answering in CAT

Candidates should answer the questions in CAT 2023 by following the directions on the computer screen. According to the CAT Exam Pattern, you must answer the sections in a predetermined order, which will be the same for all candidates. The timer clock in the upper right corner will beat as soon as the candidate checks in to answer the questions. All the sections will be locked after 40 minutes separately, and applicants will not be able to answer any more questions. The candidates must check CAT Notification 2023 for recent official announcements for the exam.

As one of the most difficult exams in the country, the CAT necessitates candidates to be exceptionally well-prepared and familiar with the CAT Exam Pattern 2023. This covered everything you needed to know about the CAT Paper Pattern. We hope you find this information helpful. Check CAT Eligibility before applying for the exam to avoid last-minute cancellation of your candidature.

CAT Paper Pattern Important Topics

The candidates must cover the topics below to prepare for the upcoming CAT 2023. All these chapters are important and compulsory. Go through the CAT Syllabus detailed study and be prepared accordingly.

Exam Sections

CAT Exam Pattern Important Topic

Verbal Ability

Para jumbles, Summary Based Questions, Sentence exclusion question

Reading Comprehension

RC passages

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning

Seating Arrangement, Reasoning Based DI, Grid-Based DI, Graphs. Tables, Data Caselets

Quantitative Aptitude

Number System, Algebra, Geometry, Arithmetic, Mensuration

CAT Exam Pattern vs Other MBA Exams

Candidates must understand the differences between the Pattern of the CAT and other MBA exams. There are significant differences between the CAT Exam Pattern with the other management exams. In the table below, we have tabulated the differences between the CAT Exam Pattern with other exams to help you in your preparation. Go through the previous years' CAT Analysis to gain conceptual clarity regarding exam difficulty level, question types, and section-wise topics covered.

MBA Exams

Number of Questions

Marking Scheme


Exam Duration



+3 for every correct answer

-1 for every incorrect answer

Quantitative Ability, Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)

2 hours


105+1 Essay

+1 for every correct answer

-0.25 for every incorrect answer

Verbal and Logical Ability, Decision Making, Quantitative Ability, Data Interpretation, General Knowledge

3 hours 10 minutes


110 (Not Fixed)

Correct Answer is +0.5 to 1, and the Incorrect Answer is -1/3 of the marks for the correct answer

Logical Reasoning, Data Interpretation, Verbal Ability, General Knowledge, Reading Comprehension, Quantitative Aptitude

2 hours



The GMAT uses computer adaptive testing with variable scoring scales for various sections.

Quantitative Aptitude, Integrated Reasoning, Verbal Ability, Analytical Writing Assessment

3 hours and 30 minutes

FAQs on CAT Exam Pattern

  • As per the latest official update, the CAT Exam Pattern is based on both MCQs and TITA questions. In total, 66 questions have to be completed within 120 minutes time schedule, which is further divided into a 40-minute sectional time limit. The total marks were 198. 

    • MCQs: 49 Questions
    • TITA: 17 Questions
  • As per official CAT Exam Pattern, negative marking is only for the MCQs. For every incorrect answer, -1 will be deducted. On the contrary, there is no Negative Marking in CAT for TITA questions and blank questions.

  • Yes, there are 40 minutes of sectional timing for each section as per the CAT Exam Pattern. It means that the aspirants will not be permitted to select any of the sections as per their choice. They have to follow the chronological order of the question paper. The chronological order is as follows:

    • VARC: 40 Minutes
    • DILR: 40 Minutes
    • QA: 40 Minutes
  • The candidates can expect 198 total marks in the CAT exam.  As per the CAT Marking Scheme, for every correct answer, they will be awarded +3, while -1 will be deducted for every incorrect answer.

  • Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, CAT Paper Pattern has changed in the past years in terms of the number of questions and time duration. In the year 2020, the total number of questions was 76, which was again reduced to 66 in 2021, and the total time duration was 120 minutes. Additionally, from 2016 to 2019, the total number of questions was 100, with a total time duration of 180 minutes.

  • There are 3 sections as per CAT Exam Pattern 2023, including VARC, DILR, and QA. Questions are asked from all these sections, and the aspirants need to complete them within a stipulated time. Note the below points for expected sectional weightage for the upcoming exam:

    • VARC: 24 Questions
    • DILR: 20 Questions
    • QA: 22 Questions
  • As per exam authorization, the CAT Paper Pattern is set by conducting IIM. In 2021, it was set by IIM Ahmedabad and in 2022, it was set by IIM Bangalore.

  • As per the previous year's exam analysis, there were 3 slots in the CAT exam. The exam will be held in three shifts: morning, afternoon, and evening on the same day.

  • The aspirants can find the questions in CAT Exam Pattern in the following sequence."

    • VARC
    • DILR
    • QA

    There is a sectional time limit for each of these sections. So, you have to answer the questions in this order, and you cannot move to the next section until the time gets over for the current section.

  • As per the previous year's analysis, the aspirants can expect 18 TITA questions in the CAT exam. However, the number of questions in each section may vary. Note the below points to get an idea about the section-wise number for TITA questions.

    • VARC: 5 Questions
    • DILR: 5 Questions
    • QA: 8 Questions
  • As per the official updates, CAT Exam Pattern was revised for the 2021 examination. IIM has decreased the total number of questions from 76 to 66, with the following changes in the total number of questions in each section:

    • Verbal Ability and Reading comprehension- 24.
    • Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning- 20.
    • Quantitative Aptitude- 22.
  • Yes, CAT Exam has a trend of negative marking. The candidates will be penalized one mark for each incorrect response to the objective questions. There are no negative marks for non-MCQ-type questions. So, be prepared well to avoid CAT Negative Marking for the objective questions.

  • TITA questions are the Type in answer-type questions as per CAT Exam Pattern. The candidates have to type the answer using the keyboard, as there will be no options to choose the correct answer.

  • No. CAT is not only MCQ based. As per the official CAT Exam Pattern, the candidates have to answer both MCQs and Non-MCQs questions.


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