CAT Exam Blueprint

If only there was a way to know what is going to be the blueprint for CAT exam. Unfortunately there isn't any. That being said, analysing the past CAT question papers, there's a lot of information and insight we can get.

We've done a Deep dive into the last few years actual CAT papers, and have figured out a lot of patterns from the same! Take a closer look into the crystal ball and it will tell you the answers to all the questions you were looking for.

Do I spend more time or less time on Geometry?
Are Games and Tournaments a major chunk of the CAT DILR?
Is Races a regular show in CAT?

Scroll to find out.

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The VARC section was a shortened rendition of the CAT’s VARC section we’re familiar with. The pattern has remained the same over the years and the difficulty level has not seen big variations in the last 4 years.

The RC touched on themes from all around the spectrum and would have been a smooth sail for anybody who reads Bharath’s Reading list regularly.

CAT 2017-19 VARC

The VARC section had 18 Reading Comprehension, about 70% of the sectional questions, and the Verbal Ability tested for ParaJumbles, Odd-sentence-out and Para Summary with 3,3 and 2 questions each.

TITA type questions were paired with the ParaJumbles to make the question paper a tad bit trickier and there were no giveaway questions and a candidate had to take a good look at the question before answering any.

CAT 2020 Slot 3 percentile

The VARC section followed a standard pattern to which candidates are used to, it gave the opportunity to take a steady start in the test. But, what rocked the boat was the incoming wave of the DILR section.


DILR in 2020 was tremendously different to what we are used to seeing. We got to see sets of 6 questions and the section tested only specific areas out of all of the DILR topics. Scheduling and Arrangement was a constant appearance between the three slots. The two 6 question sets were significantly harder to crack than the 4 question sets. AGILITY was the key to the DILR section, candidates had to pick sets, give them a go, and if the set didn't work out, switch sets ASAP.

CAT DILR Breakdown

CAT DILR Breakdown


Let's break it down even further...


The DILR prep cannot be focussed on one topic at a time, most of the sets have a bit of mix from two, three sometimes even four topics!



Breaking down these charts year-wise...


Further breaking down the doughnuts topic-wise:

CAT 2017 QA
CAT 2018 QA
CAT 2019 QA
CAT 2020 QA

Quantitative Ability is the section where the takeaways are very stark. In the last 4 years, Arithmetic has been the cornerstone to a good quants percentile, it beats everything else.
Topics like:

  • Ratios and Proportions, Mixtures
  • Averages, percentages, Profit and Loss
  • Simple Interest and Compound interest
  • Work and time
  • Speed, Time, Distance and Races

have been the major chunk of the overall QA Section. And honing your arithmetic skills pays its dividends in the Data Interpretation section as well.

If you already know more than half of the paper, you can cruise through the section and already be above 93rd percentile. If you only have a limited time to prepare for QA, arithmetic is the go-to topic. If you have some more time, take up Geometry, some more? take up Modern math, and then Algebra is the cherry on top.

CAT QA over the years

Score vs Percentile

The table contains ballpark numbers to what Raw score is required to get ‘x’ percentile in each section and overall.

CAT 2017 QA
CAT 2018 QA

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Those of you just beginning on this CAT preparation journey, click here to know about every aspect of How to Prepare for CAT? . Those of you feeling a little lost amidst all this talk of percentiles, slots, analysis, syllabus etc, click here to learn What is CAT all about?