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CAT Syllabus 2023 – Sections, Weightage, Exam Pattern, Books & Tips to Prepare

07 August, 2023 By Artika Shah, IMS India

The CAT (Common Admission Test) is a computer-based entrance exam conducted by one of the IIMs annually in India. Candidates are evaluated on their verbal ability, quantitative ability, logical reasoning, and data interpretation. The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) began CAT to select candidates for business administration programs. The CAT exam Syllabus and exam pattern outline the types of questions and sections that will be asked in the exam. The CAT Exam syllabus has been changed twice in recent years. The candidates preparing for the CAT 2023 exam should take note of the latest CAT Syllabus.

The CAT Exam Syllabus includes three sections:

  1. Reading Comprehension and Verbal Ability
  2. Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning 
  3. Quantitative Ability 

CAT Syllabus Sections and Weightage 

CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Syllabus and Weightage 

The verbal ability and reading comprehension section comprises 24 questions. Of these, 19 questions are non-MCQ questions. Reading comprehension is the focus of most questions.

The main topics for the CAT VARC section are:


Topic Name  Expected number of Questions 

Comprehension- Passage Based Questions 

Para- Jumbles  3-4 
Para- Summary  3-4 

( Sentence Completion or Correction 


The topics that are included in the CAT syllabus for verbal ability are: 

  • Vocabulary-based (Synonyms/Antonyms)
  • English usage or grammar
  • Fill in the blanks 
  • Cloze Passage 
  • Sentence Correction 
  • Meaning- Usage match 
  • Jumbled paragraph 
  • Analogies or Reverse analogies 
  • Verbal reasoning 
  • Summary questions 
  • Reading comprehension 
  • Facts- Inferences- Judgements 

CAT Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation Syllabus and Weightage 

In the CAT section on logical reasoning and data interpretation, there are 22-24 questions and 6-8 TITA-based questions. Till CAT 2017,  DI and LR were divided equally into two sections with 16 questions each. In CAT 2018 and CAT 2019,  logical reasoning had 20 questions, and data interpretation had 12 questions. In the DI section, the questions come in 3-4 sets. The candidates must understand the data sets properly to complete the entire set. In CAT 2022, the questions and topics are mentioned below: 

Slot 1:
Topic and Questions
Arranging people into countries and categories-  6
Bar Graph- Percentages- 4
Table -3
Girls making a smoothie – 6

Slot 2:
Topic and Questions
Rating – 6
Games & Tournament- 4
Bargraph- Stacked Horizontal- 4

Slot 3
Topic and Questions
Games & Tournament (Javelin)- 6
Mixtures- 4
Gantt Chart- 4

CAT Quantitative Aptitude Syllabus and Weightage 

The anticipated number of questions from the QA section of the CAT Syllabus is listed. When preparing for CAT, it is crucial to prioritise the following topics in the QA section. 


            CAT Syllabus for QA      Expected number of Questions 
          Arithmetic        9-10 questions 
          Algebra        7-8 questions 
          Geometry        3-4 questions 
          Mensuration        3-4 questions 
          Modern Mathematics        1-2 questions 


CAT Exam Syllabus Question Break Up 

The number of questions in the CAT exam syllabus has been changing in the last two years. Below is the latest paper pattern and sectional weightage for CAT. You should devote your preparation time to CAT Syllabus sections as per the weightage.

CAT Syllabus Sections Questions MCQs Non-MCQs
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC) 24 19 5
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) 20 15 5
Quantitative Aptitude (QA) 22 14 8
Total 66 48 18


CAT Exam Syllabus for MBA – Topic-wise Weightage 

The candidates can expect the same weightage in the CAT exam Syllabus according to the previous year. Note the critical topics repeated in all three sections of the past year’s CAT syllabus. 

CAT Syllabus Section Key Topics Weightage
Verbal Ability Para jumbles, Summary Based Questions, Sentence exclusion question 8-10 questions
Reading Comprehension RC passages Out of the 24 questions in the VARC section, 16 were from RC in 2022.
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning Seating Arrangement, Reasoning Based DI, Grid-Based DI, Graphs. Tables, Data Caselets In 2022, there were two sets with a total of 10 questions in DI and two sets from LR.
Quantitative Aptitude Number System, Algebra, Geometry, Arithmetic, Mensuration Arithmetic and Algebra dominate the section with approx. Eight questions from each.

CAT Exam Syllabus – Books to study 

There are many books available for each section of the CAT Syllabus 2023 section. Below are the CAT Books to complete the exam syllabus on time:

  1. CAT Books for VARC: 

  • A Modern Approach to Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning by R.S. Aggarwal 
  • How to prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT by Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay/Arihant
  • High School English & Grammar by Wren & Martin
  • Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis
  • NCERT English Books by NCERT
  1. CAT Books for DILR: 

  • Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning by Gautam Puri or Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for the CAT by Nishit K. Sinha
  • The best way to prepare for reading comprehension for the CAT syllabus is to read novels, sample papers, and newspapers regularly
  1. CAT Books for Quantitative Aptitude: 

  • How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Arun Sharma 
  • Quantitative Aptitude Quantum CAT by Sarvesh Sharma 
  • NCERT Maths Books by NCERT


Changes in the CAT Exam Syllabus 

The CAT Exam Syllabus for MBA have remained unchanged for the past decade although the number of questions has been reduced to 66 from 100 in the last two years. Below is the table with more details:


        Components  Changes in CAT 2019 to 2020 Changes to CAT 2021 to 2022 
Total Number of Questions Reduced to 76 from 100 Reduced to 66 from 76
Total Score Reduced to 228 from 300  Reduced to 198 from 228
Questions in VARC Reduced to 26 from 34 Reduced to 24 from 26
Questions in DILR Reduced to 24 from 32 Reduced to 20 from 24
Questions in QA Reduced to 26 from 34 Reduced to 22 from 26


Tips to prepare for CAT Syllabus 

The candidates should familiarize themselves with the CAT syllabus and paper pattern before beginning their preparation. Below are some topics that one can follow to prepare for the CAT syllabus. 

  1. Choose the right books to make conceptual clarity and a strong foundation for the CAT exam. After clearing the basics, one can solve questions of varying complexity.
  2. Solve the previous year’s question paper to learn how to approach the paper correctly and improve your level of accuracy for the CAT exam.
  3. Maintain a notebook to keep track of tricks and formulas that require constant revision.
  4. Stick to IIM CAT Syllabus to avoid preparing topics that will not be asked in the exam.
  5. Test your level of preparedness by taking CAT online mock tests after completing each topic. Analyze each test afterwards and improve upon your mistakes while practising the CAT Syllabus 

Frequently Asked Questions on CAT Syllabus 

  1. CAT exam syllabus changes every year? 

The CAT exam syllabus does not change very often. The syllabus has been altered in terms of its weightage distribution in recent years. The number of questions decreased from 100 to 66 from 100, including both multiple-choice questions and non-multiple-choice questions.

  1. What are the sections in the CAT Syllabus? 

The CAT syllabus is divided into three sections:

  1. Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) 
  2. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) 
  3. Quantitative Aptitude (Q) includes various topics of Class 10 level. 
  1. What is the difference between the CAT syllabus and GMAT?

The major difference between GMAT and CAT syllabi is that the latter does not include a descriptive writing section. The CAT exam comprises three sections VARC, QA, and DILR. Meanwhile, GMAT has verbal reasoning, integrated reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing assignment. Each section of the CAT exam has a predefined sequence and must be attempted in that order. GMAT students, however, can decide which sections to answer in what order.

  1. What is the CAT syllabus for Quantitative aptitude, and what are its sections? 

The CAT exam syllabus for the quantitative section can be divided into five main sections geometry and mensuration, number system, arithmetic, modern mathematics, and algebra. The Quantitative Aptitude syllabus is the most comprehensive and well-defined of all.

  1. How can I prepare for the IIM Cat syllabus? 

Analyse and devote dedicated time to each section of the IIM CAT syllabus. Complete your preparation, select experts recommended books, and prepare a strategy. 

  1. Is it possible to complete CAT Syllabus in three months? 

Completing the CAT exam syllabus within three months is possible if you prepare efficiently and plan ahead. CAT is primarily an aptitude test, which means there are few other things to memorize besides formulas.

  1. What is the CAT Syllabus for VARC? 

The CAT exam syllabus for VARC is part of the section on VARC. The main topics asked in this section are para jumbles, reading comprehension, fill-in-the-blanks, odd one-out, and vocab-based. 

  1. Is the CAT syllabus the same as other MBA entrance exams? 

The CAT Syllabus has the same basic features as other MBA entrance exams, covering quant, verbal, and logical reasoning. Exams like CMAT have more sections like entrepreneurship and general awareness and innovation. 

  1. What are the subjects covered in the CAT exam syllabus?

There are three sections in the CAT exam syllabus like data interpretation and logical reasoning (DILR), verbal ability and reading comprehension (VARC), and quantitative aptitude (QA). 

  1. Which section of the CAT syllabus is the most challenging? 

The candidates may find the reading comprehension passages in the VARC section the most challenging. The exam authority usually assigns long and tricky passages to make the candidates confused.

  1. Is the CAT exam Syllabus difficult?

Compared to other MBA exams, the difficulty level of the CAT syllabus is high. It is essential to have a basic understanding of CAT in order to do well on it. Ensure preparing a timetable and completing all the chapters of the CAT exam syllabus on time.