A Complete Guide for Common Admission Test or CAT 2020

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A Complete Guide for Common Admission Test or CAT 2020

Common Admission Test or CAT exam is a common aptitude test which is a gateway to 20 IIMs and over 1,200 B-schools in India. CAT is conducted in online mode in over 156 cities. The exam is held in two slots and the question paper comprises 100 MCQs & non-MCQs from Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) and Quantitative Ability (QA). Over two lakh candidates appear in the CAT exam every year. In 2019, the number of candidates who registered for the exam was 2,44,190 lakh and the number of candidates who appeared in the exam was 2,09,926. 

CAT 2020 aspirants who plan to pursue MBA in 2021 must check all the details related to the exam to be able to plan their preparation and the next two years in academics. CAT exam is conducted annually and the competition in this exam is high, so they must make sure they are fully prepared to take the test. Read more about the CAT exam below. 

Changes in CAT 2020

  • CAT application fee has been increased from Rs 1,900 to Rs 2,000 for General category students. For SC/ST/PwD candidates, the fee has been increased from Rs 950 to Rs 1,000.
  • This year, the candidates can select upto six cities for allotment of CAT exam centre.Till last year, the number of preferred test cities was limited to four.
  • There is no increase in the number of CAT test cities. The exam will be conducted in 156 cities across India like last year.
  • There has been no change in the exam pattern and syllabus. CAT will be conducted in Computer Based Test mode. The exam should take 180 minutes to finish.

CAT Eligibility Criteria

The minimum eligibility criteria for the CAT exam is graduation. Read below for more details on CAT eligibility criteria.

  • The applicant shall obtain a bachelor’s degree from a recognised board or institution with a minimum of 50 percent aggregate or comparable CGPA (45 percent aggregate for SC , ST and PWD / DA category).
  • The applicant must have earned a technical degree with appropriate percentage (CA/ CS/ ICWA).
  • Candidates who qualify for the final year of the bachelor’s degree / equivalent certification or the pending test are also qualified for the CAT review.

CAT 2020 Important Dates

CAT exam date 2020 was announced on July 29 by IIM Indore. Take a look at the table below for the schedule of CAT 2020.

CAT 2020 EventsCAT 2020 DatesSalient Features
CAT 2020 notification release29-July-2020CAT 2020 official website made live and exam schedule announced
CAT 2020 registrations start05-Aug-2020Online registrations commence for candidates to apply for CAT
Registrations end16-Sep-2020The registration process to end for all candidates
CAT form correctionTo Be AnnouncedCandidates can upload a new photo and signature. No other information can be edited
CAT mock test releaseTo Be AnnouncedThe official mock test will be released on the official website. Only registered candidates can take the mock test.
CAT official tutorial release16-Oct-2020The exam conducting body will release a video to help candidates understand exam day guidelines
Admit card release28-Oct-2020To be downloaded from CAT 2020 website
CAT exam 202029-Nov-2020To be held in 156 cities in two slots – morning and afternoon
CAT answer key releaseTo Be AnnouncedTo be downloaded from CAT website. Candidates can raise objection (if any)
Answer key challenge process beginsTo Be AnnouncedCandidates can challenge official responses online by paying Rs 1,000 per question
Last date to challenge answer keyTo Be AnnouncedOption to challenge answer key will be available for three to four days
CAT result 2020 declarationSecond week of January, 2021Release of scorecard on official website by 9 AM

CAT 2020 Exam Pattern

Scoring a good percentile will require extensive preparation of CAT 2020. The exam pattern of CAT 2020 will be prescribed by IIM Indore for the academic year admissions 2021-2023. Candidates who will fill the CAT 2020 application form must check the exam pattern beforehand in order to prepare well. The exam pattern of CAT 2020 will be almost the same as CAT 2019. The below is a provisional CAT 2020 exam template which will be revised if any improvements for CAT 2020 are brought in by IIM.

S. No.ParticularsDetails
1.Exam Duration3 hours
2.Total no. of questions100 MCQs
3.Mode of CAT 2020CBT i.e. computer-based
4.Marking schemeA correct response carries three points.One mark will be removed for an incorrect response.
5.Sections (3)Quantitative EnergyInterpretation of evidence & critical reasoningVisual understanding and literacy skills.

Syllabus of CAT 2020

Candidates must also have an understanding exactly-how the CAT 2020 syllabus in advance, in addition to the exam sequence. Six months of dedicated planning will move you ahead toward your target of becoming a CAT topper according to some management experts.

As suggested you must complete the CAT syllabus latest by August. Go through all the topics, theorems, formulae, and questions and be thorough with the concepts. Take a look at some important topics and patterns from all the three sections of CAT Syllabus, below:

1. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension:

  • Total No. of Questions = 34
  • Total Maximum Marks = 102
  • Total MCQs with negative marking = 24 to 27
  • Total Non-MCQs without negative marking = 7 to 10

2. Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

  • Total No. of Questions = 32
  • Total Maximum Marks = 96
  • Total MCQs with negative marking = 24
  • Total Non-MCQs without negative marking = 8

3. Quantitative Ability

  • Total No. of Questions = 34
  • Total Maximum Marks = 102
  • Total MCQs with Negative Marking = 23 to 27
  • Total Non-MCQs without negative marking = 7 to 11
CAT SectionsImportant Topics
Verbal Ability & Reading ComprehensionPara-Jumbles, Para Summary, Antonyms, One Word Substitution, Sentence Completion
Data Interpretation & Logical ReasoningSyllogism, Seating Arrangement, Tables, Charts, Graphs, Caselets
Quantitative AptitudeGeometry, Algebra, Mensuration, Time and Work, Number System

How and When to Start Preparation for CAT 2020

When the candidates are informed of the syllabus, will they split their training to address the query of when to begin planning for CAT 2020? It’s very normal for candidates to get lost even though they know the exam format and syllabus and end up losing a lot of precious time from CAT 2020. Good results than others would open the portal to top B-Candidate Schools that can split their training into 3 phases as seen below

Strategy When and Where to Begin Preparation for CAT 2020:

Month-wise Strategy DivisionTarget Points
6 MonthsTime Management.Join Coaching/FB groups.Concept clarity with shortcuts.
3 MonthsBreak preparation into sections.Work on areas of improvement.Practice sample paper/past year questions.
1 MonthMock tests.Focus on Strong Topics.

CAT Preparation: Section Wise Strategy

1. Study the CAT Exam Pattern

As is widely established, the Common Admission Test or CAT contains three major parts, namely ‘Quantitative Aptitude (QA),’ ‘Information Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR),’ and ‘Verbal Capacity and Reading Comprehension (VARC).’ At CAT 2019, there were 34 questions on the verbal segment (VARC), 32 questions on data analysis (DILR), and 34 questions on the quant portion (QA).

2. Study the Syllabus for CAT 2020

Major areas to be covered:-

  1. CAT Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension Syllabus:-

CAT Verbal Capacity is one region that has undergone the greatest thematic and systemic improvement in the last three years. You would need to review the following subjects after evaluating the topics that appeared in the CAT 2019 exam:

  • Reading Comprehension: This is a major component of the CAT analysis and 24 of the 34 questions in the VARC segment were from this field.
  • Paragraph Summary: This is another subject that has gained attention in the past few years which is testing the logic and intellectual skills of a pupil.
  • Para-jumbles & Misfit Sentences: Tons of queries have emerged from this field in the last couple of years. One should keep in mind that the sentences can often be lengthy and assembling them may be a time-consuming job.

A) There are few other topics which you need to study and they are mentioned below:-

  • Critical Reasoning .
  • Paragraph Completion.
  • Grammar & Use (including Common Grammar Failure, Confusing Terms, & Phrasal Verbs) questions.
  • Questions focused on words (mainly Fill in the blanks).

B) A list of other verbal topics which are important in other MBA entrance exams is suggested below:-

  • Vocabulary topics: queries focused on synonym-antonym, cloze movement, analogies or reverse analogies, sense-use match, idioms and phrases, secondary context colours, use, related terms, antonyms, etc.
  • Verbal reasoning: Judgement on fact-inference.
  • Grammar: Refer to Sentence.

ii. CAT Software Interpretation & Syllabus Logical Rationale:-

The list of topics that should be studied well for the CAT 2020 exam is listed below:-

Caselets, Figures, Bar Graphs, Column Graphs, Line Charts, Venn Diagrams, Pie Charts, Combining two or three forms connected to each other Games & Tournaments, Number and Letter Series, Calendars; Cubes, Clocks, Venn Diagrams, Linear Logic, Seating Arrangement; Syllogism; Logical Sequence; Logical Connections; Blood Relationships.

iii. CAT Quantitative Ability Syllabus:-

Number Systems; LCM and HCF; Gain, Cost, and Discount; Percentages; Velocity, Space, and Distance; Space and Work; Simple and Binary Interest; Ratio and Proportion; Averages; Quadratic Equations; Linear Equations; Complex Numbers; Logarithm; Binomial Theorem; Sequences and Series; Surds and Indices; Probability; Permutation and Combination; Set Theory; Functions; Geometry; Mixtures and Alligations; Trigonometry; Coordinate Geometry; and Mensuration.

3. Strengthen your basics

Once you have gone through the syllabus and exam pattern, start working on the fundamentals of each topic. With strong analytical consistency, in less time, you can gain greater precision. Regular reading is essential to get a hold on the verbal ability section. The other two sections demand you to invest a good amount of time practicing the concepts. After getting yourself well-versed with the basics, start solving sections and chapter wise test papers.

4. Give CAT Mock Tests regularly

CAT training is deemed insufficient because you have not used the mocks. The object of these simulated CAT mocks or CAT sample papers or CAT test series is to help the students understand the paper stage. Moreover, the mock results give a clear indication of the CAT aspirant’s strengths and weaknesses as regards the subject areas of the CAT entrance exam. Also, you will have ample time to improve your weak areas and simultaneously strengthen your strong areas to improve your score.

5. Analyze the Mock Tests thoroughly and prepare a study plan

This is a step which most CAT aspirants skip in their journey of the entrance exam. This exercise of assessing the mocks will provide a clear picture as to where one stands and also give you a guideline to formulate test strategy. You should bear in mind the importance of each section and its relevance to the CAT exam while designing the study plan.

Books to help For your CAT Preparation

A good review planning depends primarily on the books you are learning from, so take a look at CAT’s list of best reads, section-wise:

  1. Great books for CAT: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
Books for CATAuthor Name/Publisher
How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CATArun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay/Arihant
30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary Mass Market PaperbackWilfred Funk & Norman Lewis/ Simon & Schuster
How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CATSharma and Upadhyay
PSC for VA for CATNishit Sinha
High School English Grammar & CompositionWren & Martin
  1. Best Books for CAT: Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning
Books for CATAuthor Name/Publisher
CAT 2018 Data Interpretation & Logical ReasoningGautam Puri
Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for the CATNishit K. Sinha
Data Interpretation & Data SufficiencyAnanta Ashisha
How to Prepare for Data Interpretation for CATArun Sharma
  1. Best Books for CAT: Quantitative Aptitude
Books for CATAuthor Name/Publisher
NCERT Mathematics Books (Class 6 to 10)NCERT
How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for the CATArun Sharma
Quantitative Aptitude Quantum CATSarvesh Sharma
Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations.Abhijit Guha
Quantitative Aptitude for CATNishit Sinha

Expert Tips on CAT Exam 2020

CAT is such an exam which does not look for intelligence, it only asks from an aspirant for proper planning and preservation during preparation. The whole preparation strategy revolves around maximizing the candidate’s ability and potential by focusing on their strong areas and taking its advantage in the best way.

Today, we are sharing some of excellent expert preparation tips for CAT 2020:

  1. Value your time and analyze your speed by practicing a lot of mock tests, and plan your sections according to the available time in the exam.
  2. Start with fundamental questions in the beginning as it will help you to increase your confidence and will also save your time.
  3. Nail your Verbal Ability Section by getting indulged in extensive reading and practicing during your preparation days to excel.
  4. Do not panic while practicing lengthy and complicated sections and if you get stuck on any question, then it is advised to move on rather than wasting your time.
  5. Get well versed with Vedic Mathematics as quantitative ability requires highly tedious calculations in no time. Even CAT provided a calculator during the exam, but you can save a great time if you have good practice in “Vedic Mathematics.”
  6. Practice a lot of questions in logical reasoning and data interpretation to grasp the problem immediately.
  7. Enhance your reading speed and comprehension ability through books, articles, newspapers, blogs, etc.
  8. Give proper attention to words like “all,” “some” or “none” while reading the factual information that a question gives you. These words can play a critical role in precisely specifying the facts to be used in your reasoning.

How to Clear CAT Exam 2020 In First Attempt

In the last one month period, focus on evaluating your progress, and stop experimenting with new types of questions. It is time to finalize your overall strategy. By revising the previously written mocks to understand how much improvement is required. In the last week before the exam, take time to relax as a lot of stress will affect your health and performance. Take meditation and Yoga practice to reduce your anxiety and meet with your friends to fresh your mood.

Alas, but not the least, stay calm during the exam and do not lose hope or pressurize yourself in any situation to perform well on paper. A fresh and cool mind will help you to attempt problems in a smarter way than a stressed mind. Do not try to panic during exam hours. Skip the questions you are not sure of, as you will get scored on an accuracy basis.

So, keep yourself, mentally, emotionally, and physically best to get the best out of you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can I prepare for CAT 2020 in three months?

A: CAT preparation in three months is difficult but not impossible. Three months of exam preparation for CAT should be exam centric. Focus on solving mock tests and sample questions.

Q: When is CAT 2020 expected to be conducted?

A: CAT 2020 is expected to be conducted on November 29. Registration process is expected to begin from August 3.

Q: Will the CAT exam be conducted in IBT mode this year?

A: There is no indication of CAT 2020 being conducted in IBT mode yet, but if the COVID-19 situation persists, the examination authority may opt for it.

Q: Which is the toughest section of the CAT exam?

A: All the three sections of CAT  – VARC,  DILR and QA are tough. While VARC consists of lengthy and dense RC passages, the DILR section consists of tricky questions and puzzles. QA on the other hand, has calculation intensive questions.

Q: Are CAT RC passages more difficult than other MBA entrance exams like XAT or IIFT?

A: CAT RC passages are usually considered tougher than that of XAT or IIFT because they are mostly inference based which requires candidates to give more time to select the right answer. In CAT 2019, the RC passages were lengthy.

Q: What is the marking scheme of the CAT exam? How many marks are deducted for wrong answers?

A: In CAT, for each right answer, three marks are allotted and one mark is deducted for each wrong answer.

Q: Which of the three sections of CAT is the most scoring?

A: Both QA and DILR sections are highly scoring. Some students in the past have even scored 100 percentile in the section.

Q: What should be my last month exam preparation strategy for CAT?

A: In the last month of CAT preparation, candidates should focus on mock tests and revision as CAT is all about speed and accuracy.

Q: Does CAT have a General Awareness section?

A: No, CAT does not have a General Awareness section. However, candidates should study current affairs to prepare for GD/PI.

Q: I did not have Maths in plus two and graduation? Can I score well in CAT?

A: Yes, candidates who did not study Maths in higher secondary or graduation can still perform well in CAT, because the QA section of the exam consists of advanced level topics of Class 9 and 10 Maths, which can be perfected with guidance and practice.  

Q: How many mock tests should I practice for CAT preparation?

A: On an average, each aspirant should attempt 25-30 CAT mock tests for exam preparation.

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