CAT Syllabus 2021- CAT Exam Detailed Syllabus(VARC, DILR, QA)

CAT Syllabus 2021

CAT Syllabus 2021:Common Admission Test (CAT) is one of the most popular and desirable entrance tests in the country. The syllabus for CAT is virtually very fundamental and broad, which is done to make sure every candidate has an equal opportunity, irrespective of the field in which they have completed their studies. A large part of the CAT syllabus is thus based on middle school (classes 8 & 9) mathematics and English.

All the candidates willing to sit for CAT 2021, must have a thorough knowledge of the syllabus in order to excel in this test. Hence, in this article, we have done a breakdown of every aspect of the CAT Syllabus 2021, which will surely help candidates kickstart their Let’s take a detailed look at the CAT Exam syllabus 2021.

CAT exam Syllabus 2021

CAT Syllabus 2021 – Overview

Before delving deep down into the analysis, it’s better to have a rough idea of the structure of the CAT exam 2021 syllabus. The table below lists all the sections and important topics with duration, number of questions, and marks as per CAT (2020).

SectionsMajor TopicsSectional DurationNo. of questionsMarks
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)      Para-jumbles,    Sentence completionInterferenceQuestions based on reading comprehension and etcFor General: 40 minutesFor PwD: 53 Minutes 20 Seconds 2678
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)GraphsTablesSeating ArrangementSyllogismBlood RelationData Caselets and etcFor General: 40 minutesFor PwD: 53 Minutes 20 Seconds24

Quantitative Aptitude (QA)Time and WorkGeometryAlgebraMensurationNumber SystemFor General: 40 minutesFor PwD: 53 Minutes 20 Seconds2678

NOTE: Only a few main topics from each section have been listed in the table, we have penned down all the topics section wise below. 

CAT Syllabus 2021 – Section Wise Analysis 

Here we have discussed, all the topics of the CAT Exam Syllabus under each section. It will help candidates to plan their preparations well. They can get an idea of the topics that will consume more time compared to others, and accordingly allot time during preparation. In addition, they can also idea of the topics that they might fall short in and need to focus more on.  

1. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)

The VARC section is the first section of the CAT question paper and is to be solved first. Vocabulary has been an integral part of VARC however there have been timely changes in the way it is asked in the question paper. They are now asked through comprehension passages. 

Apart from this, one-word substitutions, fill-ups, synonyms-antonyms, jumbled sentences etc. possess a major chunk of marks in this section, so they are to be prepared really well.   

Grammar or English UsageSynonyms Antonyms (Vocabulary Based)Fill in the blanksMeaning/Usage MatchJumbled Paragraph and Close PassageVerbal Logic
Verbal ReasoningReading ComprehensionAnalogies and Reverse AnalogiesSummary QuestionsFacts Inferences JudgmentsOne-word substitution

a) Verbal Ability

  • Jumbled Sentences 
  • Summary Questions
  • Odd sentences in Paragraph Jumbles.

The jumbled paragraph questions are from TITA, which means there is no margin for error.

  • Together they form a paragraph and the candidates must find the most appropriate order for the sentence group. In order to solve these types of questions.
  • In these types of questions, 4 to 5 sentences are out of order.
  • The first thing every candidate should do is identify the first and last sentence of the paragraph.
  • This is usually much easier because the first sentence introduces a topic, while the last sentence makes some sort of judgment or decision.
  • Following this, the second sentence should lead to the first one.

Summary questions are usually as follows:

  • Small passages with 4 options (around 80-100 words).
  • The goal is to find the best summary of the paragraph.
  • Usually, in these types of questions, it is important to find options that do not conflict with the passage in any way.
  • Once you have eliminated the other options, the correct answer will appear.

An odd sentence in paragraph jumps TITA questions for the last 3 to 4 years:

  • The purpose of this type of question is to identify the sentence that does not match the theme established in the remaining paragraph.
  • These questions can be easy or difficult depending on how they are presented.
  • For easy questions, the sentence will talk about something completely different from the theme of the rest of the paragraph.
  • On difficult questions, on the other hand, the sentence will be on the same topic as the rest of the paragraph but will differ slightly depending on the concept or theme presented.
  • It is also possible for a sentence to introduce a topic within an unrelated theme.

Key points related to Verbal Ability for CAT 2021

  • The total number of questions asked is usually 8 to 10, and a similar weightage is given for this section.
  • As part of the syllabus of CAT 2021, in the Verbal Ability section, Non-MCQ questions will be asked.
  • Negative marking to any question was not answered incorrectly as most of the questions asked were of the non-MCQ type.
  • Going by past year trends and as per CAT exam syllabus in VA section usually, questions are asked from para-jumbles, error correction in a para, out of context sentence in para, and vocabulary.

The number of topics and expected questions in CAT Verbal Ability.

TopicsNumber of questions expected
Sentence Completion & Correction2-3
Odd Sentences1-2
Others (Fill in the blanks, Vocabulary Based, etc.)1-2

b) Reading Comprehension 

As per the CAT 2021 syllabus, Reading Comprehension (RC) consists of questions based on the passages in the CAT exam. Questions are generally of three types: Inference-based, Fact-based, and Vocabulary-based. Vocabulary-based questions have already been discussed above.

Fact-based questions, as the name implies, demand answers based on the facts mentioned in the paragraph. They are usually the easiest questions in the section.

Assumption-based questions are a bit tricky because the candidates must reduce the tone and theme of the writer before answering these questions. In CAT 2019 and CAT 2020, these types of questions were very rare.

Key points related to Reading Comprehension for CAT 2021

  • The total number of questions asked can do anything between 24-28.
  • Since the questions asked in this are multiple choices (MCQs), it will indicate negative marking.
  • In the Reading Comprehension section, there will be at least four long paragraphs and one short paragraph.
  • According to the course of the past years, the long comprehension passage will have at least 900 words and the short passage will have about 500-600 words.
  • Comprehension passages mainly revolve around topics such as politics, environment, literature, and society.
  • As per the CAT exam pattern, a negative marking of -1 mark is applicable for every incorrect answer.

The number of topics and expected questions in CAT Reading Comprehension

Total Number of PassagesTotal Number of Questions
4 to 5 PassagesAt least 24 questions

2. Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)

According to the detailed CAT exam syllabus 2021, there are two subdivisions which are (i) Data Interpretation (ii) Logical Rational. Candidates must complete this section within 40 minutes (53.20 minutes for PwD), without which they will not be allowed to proceed further.

DILR was a tricky section for candidates in CAT 2017 and CAT 2018, but the difficulty level was reduced in CAT 2019 and CAT 2020. One reason for this difficulty is the unpredictability of sections based on where the set can be taken. 

Bar Graphs and Column GraphsCaselets and TablesVenn Diagrams
Combination of two or more types linked to each otherLine Charts & Pie ChartNumber and Letter Series
Seating ArrangementLogical SequenceCoding-Decoding
ConnectivesBlood RelationsMatching/ Puzzles
Calendars, Cubes and ClocksBinary LogicBinary Logic

Topics covered under DI & LR

a) Data Interpretation

From the CAT exam syllabus 2021 above, the Data Interpretation (DI) IIM CAT syllabus 2021 contains cassettes and tables. These cassettes contain data in the form of column charts, bar charts, Venn diagrams, lines, and pie charts. We need to understand this data to solve the questions in CAT Exam 2021.

To solve these questions, the data must be structured very intuitively so that the questions are solved. In some questions, there will be variables that should not be touched on as they may be presented in the questions. The only possible way to prepare for this DI section of the CAT exam 2021 is to solve as many problems as possible.

Key points related to Data Interpretation for CAT 2021

  • In the Data Interpretation, there are both multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and non-multiple-choice questions (MCQs).
  • MCQ and Non-MCQ are no standard numbers.
  • If the MCQ is answered incorrectly, there is a negative marking.
  • If the non-MCQ responds incorrectly, there is no negative mark.

b) Logical Reasoning

Over the years the IIM CAT syllabus has included topics for logical reasoning such as arrangements, numbers and sequences, logical sequences, syllogisms, calendars, clocks and cubes, and blood relations.

Over the years the IIM CAT syllabus has included topics for logical reasoning such as arrangements, numbers and sequences, logical sequences, syllogisms, calendars, clocks and cubes, and blood relations. Questions are usually a combination of other topics. As can be seen, the number of topics for rationality is numerous and the combination can lead to very tricky compilations.

Key points related to Logical Reasoning 

  • The total number of questions asked may be between 15 to 20.
  • For each incorrect answer, the negative will provide.
  • There are both MCQ and Non-MCQs questions for logical reasoning.
  • If the candidates answer wrongly for MCQs, then there is a negative marking.
  • No negative mark for Non-MCQs.

The number of topics and expected questions in the CAT DILR Section

TopicsTotal Number of Questions
Graph, Bar diagram6-8
Tables & Charts5-8
Graphs, Charts7-10
Tables, Pie chart4-5

 3) Quantitative Aptitude (QA)

As part of the (QA), questions will be asked from arithmetic, mathematics, trigonometry, and algebra. Check out some topics from the syllabus of CAT 2021 for Quantitative Aptitude that will be asked questions.

LCM & HCFNumber SystemsSpeed, Time & Distance
PercentagesProfit, Loss & DiscountTime & Work
AveragesSimple & Compound InterestQuadratic & Linear Equations
Complex NumbersRatio & ProportionLogarithm
Sequences & SeriesProbability, Permutation and CombinationSet Theory
Binomial TheoremSurds & IndicesInequalities
Functions & GeometryMixtures & AllegationsTrigonometry
Coordinate Geometry & MensurationPartnership (Accounts)Algebra

Key points related to Quantitative Aptitude for CAT 2021

  • A total of 26 questions will be asked in the Quantitative Aptitude section.
  • There are both MCQ and Non-MCQs questions in this section. 18 MCQs asked and 8 non-MCQs.
  • Candidates will lose marks if they respond incorrectly to MCQ. For Non-MCQ, there are no negative marks.

The wide number of topics in the CAT syllabus 2021 means that it should be further broken down into manageable areas. Subdivisions in the QA syllabus of CAT 2021 include:

ArithmeticCommercial MathsAlligations and Mixtures
TrigonometrySequences and SeriesGeometry

The questions in QA are usually distributed in the following manner

TopicsTotal Number of Questions
Arithmetic Questions10-12
Geometry & Mensuration7-8
Number System4-5


Above, we have discussed all the aspects of the CAT Syllabus 2021 with utmost detail. It is hoped that it helps the candidates eyeing this test. Analyzing marks and the question distribution can really become cumbersome, thus this may come in handy to all the aspirants. In addition, we have also included “key points” to help them grab a large chunk of marks by focusing on some specific topics. All in all, we have provided a well-organized guide that can help students to use their time more productively to get through this test with flying colors. we hope this article helped you understand the complete syllabus of CAT 2021.

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FAQ’s for CAT Exam Syllabus 2021

What is the syllabus for the CAT entrance exam?

The CAT Exam is comprised of 3 sections:

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

Is CAT exam only for MBA?

CAT 2021 is the mandatory entrance exam for admission to MBA 2022 in 20 IIMs and other top MBA colleges in India.

Is CAT score valid for 2 years?

The CAT score card is valid for a period of ONE YEAR only.

Can a 3rd year student give CAT?

The eligibility criterion for CAT is graduation, though final year students of various bachelor’s degree courses can also take the test.

How many attempts for CAT are allowed?

There is no limit for
 the CAT exam candidates to the number of attempts of giving the exam. 

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