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What to Expect in CAT 2021 - Date, Pattern, Registration & Other Details

Abhinav Chamoli
Abhinav ChamoliPublished On: July 23, 2021 | CAT

IIM Ahmedabad will be conducting CAT this year after a gap of 5 years. Depending on the COVID-19 situation, several changes may be expected in CAT 2021. Here is what students can expect in CAT 2021.

What to Expect in CAT 2021

CAT 2021 notification will be released soon. The exam dates for CAT 2021 will also be released along with the notification. This year, IIM Ahmedabad is conducting CAT 2021IIMA will be the conducting body of CAT after a 5-year gap. The last time it conducted CAT was in 2015.

The last time IIMA conducted the exam, it had introduced several notable changes in the CAT exam pattern. Hence, there are many speculations that the case may be repeated this year with IIMA introducing changes to the CAT 2021 exam pattern as well.

Moreover, CAT had also seen several major changes last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CAT exam duration was slashed to 2 hours and the number of questions was also brought down to 76. Students are also keen to know whether these changes to the CAT paper pattern will be reversed.

While IIM Ahmedabad is the only one that has answers to all of the questions so far, here is a quick breakdown of what students should expect in CAT 2021. Check the expected exam date, pattern and other details here.

CAT 2021 Expected Exam Date and Timings

Registrations for CAT 2021 are expected to begin in the first week of August 2021 and go on till the 3rd week of September. The expected exam date of CAT is on the last Sunday of November i.e. November 28, 2021. All eyes are currently on the IIMA, which is expected to release the notification in the last week of July 2021. Here is a tentative exam calendar for CAT 2021 and a comparison with last year's calendar to help students get an idea.


Expected CAT 2021 Date

CAT 2020 Date

CAT notification release

July 28, 2021

July 29, 2020

CAT registration begins

August 4, 2021

August 5, 2020

CAT registration ends

September 15, 2021

September 23, 2020

Availability of CAT admit card

October 27, 2021

October 28, 2020

CAT exam date

November 28, 2021

November 29, 2020

CAT 2021 Expected Exam Timings

CAT is expected to be conducted in 3 slots this year as per the timings given below.


Start Time

End Time

Slot 1

8:30 am

10:30 am

Slot 2

12:30 pm 

2:30 pm

Slot 3

4:30 pm

6:30 pm

Also Read:List of MBA Entrance Exams in India 2021-22 - Schedule, Application, Exam Pattern, Syllabus & Participating Colleges

CAT 2021 Expected Exam Pattern

Check the old vs new exam pattern of CAT in the following table.


CAT New Pattern

CAT Old Pattern

Number of questions




3 hours

2 hours

Questions per section

  • VARC: 26
  • DILR: 24
  • QA: 26
  • VARC 34
  • DILR: 32
  • QA: 34

Number of slots



Marking scheme

  • +3 marks for every correct response
  • -1 mark for every incorrect response in MCQ
  • No negative marking in non-MCQ (TITA-type questions)

Number of options per question


What will happen to the CAT exam pattern this year?

So far, there can be no confirmation about whether CAT will be reverted to its old 100-question pattern or continue with the new 76-question pattern. Going by the present situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is unlikely that the CAT exam pattern will be reverted to the old one. However, IIM Ahmedabad may revert to the old exam pattern of CAT if it adds new exam centres. Take a look at our CAT preparation articles to get a good score in the exam.

How to Prepare for CAT 2021

CAT Preparation Tips for Working Professionals - Check Study Plan & Time Table

CAT Preparation Tips for Non-Engineering Students - Check Study Plan & Strategy

50+ Important Formulas for CAT Preparation: Topic-Wise Formulas Used in CAT 2021

Toppers Tips for CAT 2021: Check How Toppers Prepare for CAT, Strategy & Study Tips to Score 99 Percentile

Common Mistakes to Avoid During CAT Preparation: Tips and Strategies

CAT 2021 Registrations and Attendance

The number of registrations for CAT was increasing steadily from 2015 to 2019. But the number took a dip in 2020. Due to COVID-19, the CAT registration and attendance was low in 2020 as compared to the previous years. Take a look at the registration data given below.


Registrations (approx.)


2.27 lakhs


2.44 lakhs


2.41 lakhs


2.31 lakhs


2.32 lakhs


2.18 lakhs

CAT 2020 Attendance Data

The attendance data for CAT 2020 was as follows.

Total registrations


Number of candidates present


Number of candidates absent


Attendance percentage


Will more candidates apply for CAT this year?

The attendance for CAT 2020 was around 83%. This means, for every 100 candidates who registered for CAT 2020, 17 were absent in the exam.

The extraordinarily large number of absentees was mostly due to the restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. CAT registrations also saw a major dip in 2020 as compared to 2019. This was also because of the same reason.

This year, a large portion of students and working professionals are expected to be partially or fully vaccinated by the CAT exam date. Hence, the number of CAT registrations is expected to see an increase as compared to last year.

Students who missed out on appearing for CAT last year might apply this year. This may lead to the number of registrations increasing significantly.

All of these speculations will be put to rest only after IIM Ahmedabad has released the CAT 2021 official notification. CollegeDekho will keep bringing you the latest news and updates from IIM Ahmedabad and CAT 2021. Stay tuned!

Also Read

CAT 2021 Preparation Tips for Beginners

Tips to Prepare for MBA Entrance Exams: Exam Pattern, Syllabus, Best Books

What is a Good CAT Percentile/ Score? - Check Here

How to Shortlist a B-School Basis CAT Percentile?

CAT Previous Year Question Paper

CAT Question Paper 2018 Slot 1

CAT Question Paper 2018 Slot 2

CAT Question Paper 2019 Slot 1

CAT Question Paper 2019 Slot 2

CAT question Paper 2017 f1

CAT question Paper 2017 F2


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