What is CAT exam?

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What is CAT Exam?

1. What is CAT Exam pattern?
2. What is CAT syllabus?
3. CAT Exam Eligibility
4. CAT Exam Selection Process
5. Key Facts about CAT Exam
6. What are the best b-schools in India?
7. What exams to take up other than CAT exam?

Scroll down the page to know the answers to the above mentioned questions.

What is CAT Exam Pattern ?

Watch the video to get a quick overview. Or, if you are from the small minority that likes to read, click on this link to see Actual CAT 2017 paper, and PDF's that contain the actual question paper in a student friendly format with embedded Video solution links.

What is CAT Syllabus ?

CAT exam officially does not prescribe a syllabus. But based on what we have seen in CAT exam over the past many years, we can reasonably infer some things. Watch the video to know the outline, or of course you can click on this link to get an overview of all topics discussed as a part of 2IIM's online CAT coaching and how to schedule your preparation as a bonus to getting to know the syllabus.

CAT Exam Eligibility

To be eligible for CAT exam, there are a bunch of requirements. Eligibility criteria for admission through CAT may be different and specific to the institute.
1. A CAT exam aspirant must be a Graduate with minimum 50% marks in aggregate or equivalent from a recognised university
2. The CAT exam aspirant must have completed education upto Graduation.
3. Candidates in their final year of Graduation are also eligible to apply.

CAT Exam Selection Process

The CAT exam selection process can be broadly categorised into:
1. Stage 1: Shortlisting of candidates on the basis of CAT exam score, Past Academic Scores, Work Experience.
2. Stage 2: Written Ability Test, Group Discussion, Personal Interview (WAT/GD/PI)
3. Final shortlist or calls based on performance in Stage 1 and Stage 2.

Key facts about CAT Exam

Total no. of Questions: 100 questions in CAT exam
Overall Duration of CAT Exam is 3 hours
Number of sections in CAT Exam: 3
Sectional Time Limit for each section in CAT Exam: 1 hour each
CAT exam has 70 - 75 Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) with each correct answer fetching +3 marks and each incorrect answer fetching -1 marks.
Rest of the questions (25 - 30) in CAT Exam are of Non-MCQ Type without negative marking.

Sections in CAT Exam

Section of CAT Exam: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) with 34 questions
Section of CAT Exam: Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) with 32 questions
Section of CAT Exam: Quantitative Ability (QA) with 34 questions

What are the Best B-schools in India?

Tier 1

These institutes are top of the line, considered to be the best B-schools in the country. List of colleges follow (in no particular order)
IIMs (IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta, IIM Lucknow, IIM Kozhikode, IIM Indore), FMS, SJMSOM - IIT B, XLRI, ISB,









Tier 2

These institutes are next in line, having established their brand name and consistent placement records. List of colleges follow (Again, in no particular order):
IIM Shillong, New IIMs (IIM Ranchi, IIM Rohtak, IIM Raipur, IIM Udaipur, IIM Kashipur, IIM Trichy), IIFT Delhi, IITs (VGSOM - IIT Kharagpur, DMS - IIT Delhi, DOMS - IIT M, IIT Kanpur), SPJIMR, NITIE, XIMB, Baby IIMs ( IIM Amritsar, IIM Nagpur, IIM Bodh Gaya, IIM Visakhapatnam, IIM Jammu, IIM Sambalpur, IIM Sirmaur), Great Lakes Institute of Management (GLIM)

Tier 3

These colleges come next. While it is still not a bad bet to join these colleges, take an informed decision before you decide to join. List of colleges follow(Time and again, in no particular order):
TAPMI, GIM, KJ SOMAIYA, IMT GHAZIABAD, XISS, XIME








What exams to take up other than CAT: XAT, GMAT, IIFT, SNAP, NMAT

There are so many of these entrance exams that it is all very overwhelming. So, let us see if we can get some clarity out of these.

As far as India is concerned, the biggest fish is CAT

Give or take 90 out of the top 100 select based on CAT Exam scores, with quite of a few of these selecting based only on CAT exam. This includes the IIMs (13 of these, soon to be 18), IITs, SP Jain, FMS, Bajaj, NITIE, MDI, IMT, among a great many others

For international MBAs, it is GMAT

Almost all universities in the US, UK, Australia, Singapore, Europe select based on GMAT. In India ISB and Great Lakes select based on GMAT. All the IIMs (+ MDI, XLRI etc) use the GMAT score for admissions into their executive MBA programs.

CAT or GMAT, which one should I take?

There are two simple rules:
1. If you want to do in India, take CAT. If you want to go abroad, take GMAT.
2. If you are a fresher, take CAT. If you have more than 8 years of experience, give preference to GMAT
If you have 2-4 years of experience, and not sure whether you want to do MBA in India or abroad, then the decision is even simpler. Take both.

What about XAT?

There are around 30 decent colleges that select based on XAT. Within this, probably XLRI is the only college that selects only through XAT. Almost everyone else accepts CAT also (XIMB, LIBA GIM etc)
The big two are CAT and GMAT really, XAT is important because it can give you a second option.

What about these other exams?

Now, IIFT selects based on a separate exam. Symbiosis uses SNAP, NMIMS has NMAT. These three give you access to narrow groups of colleges, so write these based on whether you like that particular college. There is a government-mandated CMAT and then MAT. Of these, CMAT is more or less useless. MAT is accepted in a lot of private colleges, but there is practically no college that accepts MAT that will not give you a seat based on a good CAT score. If you are confident of getting 90th percentile in CAT, then skip MAT.

What about the quality of the CAT exam?

CAT is of a good quality (note high quality, not difficulty). The quality of the GMAT exam is even better. Now, what do I mean by quality? The questions are challenging but not impossible, the level of difficulty is consistent, the framework is well defined and the exam is generally well conducted. Among the others, IIFT and NMAT are alright, at least they care enough to set decent papers.
The really worst papers are XAT and SNAP. XAT papers usually carry errors and have wild variances in difficulty across sections. SNAP also do not care much about the way they set their papers. Symbiosis probably thinks it is a good idea to sell some applications and create some excitement around the college name. SNAP has been accused of even picking some questions from freely available sources on the web.
The following chart should give an idea about all these exams, their level of difficulty, their quality (subjective opinion, bear this in mind) and how many people take these exams.
Note that the bubble size broadly outlines how many prepare for these exams

CAT, XAT and other b schools in India

So, how does one prepare for all of these?

Prepare for CAT, forget all other Indian exams. If you are taking any of the other Indian exams, all you will need to do is make are a few some adjustments that shouldn’t take more than 3-4 days. Focus slightly more on XAT; because even though the paper is inconsistent XAT can open more doors than most of the other exams.
Plan for GMAT separately. Since it is an American exam, you will need to make some adjustments regarding what is more vital. GMAT tests concepts better, and de-emphasizes computation. GMAT verbal is also tougher than that of CAT. So, even though more than 75% of the syllabus is common across CAT and GMAT, a few adjustments need to be made.

How CAT, XAT and GMAT are different, syllabus-wise?

CAT, XAT exams difference

Explaining the abbreviations used in the diagram FIJ – Fact, Inference Judgement. Even CAT Seems to be phasing this out. You should see a maximum of 1-2 questions from this in the exam.
SE – Sentence Elimination
LR – Logical Reasoning (puzzle)
WU – Word Usage
TC – Text Completion (Fill in the blanks)
PC – Paragraph Completion
DI – Data Interpretation
Trig – Trigonometry
BDM – Business Decision Making
RC – Reading Comprehension
AWA – Analytical Writing Assessment
IR – Integrated Reasoning
CR – Critical Reasoning
SC – Sentence Correction
GK – General Knowledge
P&C – Permutation and Combination.

Note: that this is a broadly indicative chart. Kindly do more research on your own after keeping this as a starting point. Dont get all officious about it if I have missed some topic or category.


Let's talk CAT 2019

It is not too early to start preparation. If you took CAT 2018 merely as a precursor to CAT 2019, then it is about time to start thinking about a pleasant 1-year preparation cycle. If you are not already one, sign up as a trial user to the 2IIM Online Course and see why so many students say so many good things about us (review link here).

2IIM’s CAT 2018 online students can renew the course at very reasonable rates. The price for renewal is pegged at a level where students pay the difference between our current 2019 price point and what they have paid already. Effectively, for students who are renewing the course, the price for preparation for CAT 2018 and CAT 2019 would be merely the price for CAT 2019 (In other words CAT 2018 prep came for free).

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

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