CAT Exam Pattern 2018

Admin Updated On: 08 Mar, 2019 11:18 IST

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CAT 2018 Exam Pattern

IIM Calcutta has announced a few changes in the CAT 2018 exam pattern. As per an official notification, there will be less MCQs and more key-in answer type questions in this year's CAT question paper. The key-in answer type questions mean candidates will be required to type in their answers. Those who had been preparing for CAT 2018 according to the old exam pattern may have to now tweak their preparation strategy keeping the new pattern in mind.

Other than this, there aren't any changes in the CAT paper pattern. The three sections - Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning and Quantitative Aptitude, remain the same and they have to be solved in chronological order. Each section has to be answered within the time limit of 60 minutes while the total duration of the paper is 180 minutes. There is no flexibility to skip nor go back to a previous section during the paper.

Getting familiar with the exam pattern and increasing your efficiency is an important step in the exam preparation process. Following is the detailed pattern of CAT that will help you in your preparation. CAT is conducted in an online mode. The total number of questions asked in the exam is 100, which are divided into the following three sections:

Sections No. of Questions Marks Allocated Time Duration
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension 34 102 60
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning 32 96 60
Quantitative Ability 34 102 60
Total 100 300 180

Note: The sections will be displayed on your computer screen in the same order as given in the table.

CAT 2018 Pattern Highlights:



Test Duration

3 hours

Number of Sections


Total number of questions in the exam


Each question carries

3 marks

Marks deducted for each incorrect question


CAT 2018 Type of Questions:

CAT exam comprises mainly two types of questions i.e. multiple choice questions (MCQ) and non-MCQs.

MCQs – These type of questions will comprise the text that you have to read and find the answer. You will be given four options from which you will have to choose the correct answer.

Non-MCQs – These will comprise question text that you will have to read in order to understand the question and type your answer in the box provided on the screen.

Expected Number of MCQs & Non-MCQs in CAT 2018:

Name of the Section

Number of MCQs

Number of non-MCQs

Quantitative Ability



Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension



Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning






Time management throughout the exam and maintaining a good solving speed is important to score well in CAT exam. Proctored mock test will help you in understanding the pattern better. 

Points to Remember:

  • In each section, some questions may not be of multiple choice type. Instead, direct answers will have to be typed on the screen. Also, the use of the basic onscreen calculator for computation is allowed. The calculator is provided on the screen of the exam window to ease up calculations during the exam. Computations can be done by scrawling the mouse on the screen on the computer.
  • Candidates will get exactly 60 minutes for answering questions in each section.
  • Switching from one section to another while answering questions in a section is not allowed.
  • To understand the format of the test, candidates are advised to work on the tutorials, which will be available on the CAT 2018 website.

CAT 2018 Marking Scheme

Each question in CAT 2018 will carry three marks and one mark will be deducted for every wrong answer. This marking scheme is applicable only for multiple choices questions. For Non-MCQs, there is no negative marking and the marks allotted to every question is three.


* On the basis of the understanding of the detailed CAT 2018 exam pattern, one can estimate the time required to prepare for CAT exam.


1. Is CAT an online examination? 

Yes, CAT is a computer-based test (CBT). Instead of reading the questions in a paper booklet and darkening the ovals on the answer-sheet, you will have to read the questions on a computer and choose an answer by clicking on the correct option.

2. How is CAT administered? 

The test cannot be taken from just about any computer. You will have to take the test on a pre-assigned workstation. Students do not have the choice to choose their workstation.

3. Can I appear for more than one slot for CAT?

No. You cannot appear for more than one slot. It will be deemed as a fraudulent activity if one attempts to appear more than once for CAT. To ensure this, Admit Cards, Photo IDs, candidate's pictures and biometric information will be checked. Candidates who attempt to take the test more than once will be eliminated anytime during the selection process.

4. What are Testing Assistive devices?

The Testing Assistive devices or TA devices are the technical aids designed to directly enable candidates to successfully perform a particular task.

5. What is the reporting time for CAT? 

You should reach the venue at least one and a half (1.5) hours prior to the test time. If the test begins at 10 AM, you must reach the test centre no later than 8:30 AM. If the test begins at 3:15 PM, you must reach the test centre no later than 1:45 PM.

6. How is the CAT shift and test date decided? 

The exam shift (forenoon or afternoon) is allocated to each registered candidate based on the city preference mentioned at the time of the application process.

7. What are the permitted materials I can bring with me to the test centre

None. You will not be permitted to bring any personal items to the test centre, including but not limited to wristwatch, pen, cellphones, calculators, etc.

8. What is the marking/grading scheme for CAT? Is there negative marking for a wrong answer? 

For questions other than MCQs, 3 marks are assigned for ‘correct answer’ and no marks for ‘incorrect answer or no attempt'. The scoring scheme for Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs) is as follows:

  • Each correct answer is awarded 3 marks.
  • An incorrect answer fetches -1. No marks are awarded or deducted for unattempted questions.

9. Can I bring a calculator to the testing centre?

Candidates are prohibited from bringing calculators to the testing centre. You may use the on-screen calculator, which will be available throughout the exam.

10. Can I move back and forth between the two sections? 

No, each section will be timed separately. Once a section ends, candidates cannot go back to it.

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