CAT 2021 Exam to have Fewer Questions than Last Year: Confirms CAT Convener; Check the Likely Number of CAT Questions & its Implications

MBAUniverse.com News Desk |
September 25, 2021
Prof M P Ram Mohan, CAT 2021 Exam Convener and IIM Ahmedabad faculty has confirmed that CAT 2021 question paper will have reduced number of questions than last year to ease the time pressure on test takers to complete the exam. However, the CAT 2021 website does not reflect this information in its exam format section. Read this article below to know the expected number of CAT questions, impact of changes and other key details
CAT 2021 to have Fewer Questions: Check how many Questions will exam have

COVID disruptions are not yet over and due to this fact the CAT 2021 convener Prof M P Ram Mohan, IIM Ahmedabad faculty has finalised the CAT exam format as per last year pattern of 2 hours duration CAT exam which will be held in three slots on November 28, 2021. However, the CAT convener finds that corresponding to the reduction in CAT exam duration to 2 hours from earlier 3 hours, the reduction of questions from 100 to 76 last year requires re-consideration. In his view, the number of questions should be further reduced in CAT 2021 to justify the number of questions corresponding to reduced time limit, so that the candidates can complete the exam without going through too much time constraint.  

In a clear message, shared through a media release on September 24, 2021, Prof Ram Mohan said, “Considering that there could have been time pressure to complete the CAT exam last year on account of changes made, for CAT 2021 the CAT Committee is making an attempt in reducing the number of questions across all the three sections - QA, DILR and VARC.”

According to the published news in ToI dated September 20, 2021, the CAT 2021 convener had also shared the same important update with the national daily and informed, “Last year’s CAT format changes were necessitated due to Covid-19 pandemic. Since we are seeing the same pandemic issue this year, the CAT 2021 exam format and pattern will remain the same. However, considering that even last year, there could have been time pressure on the students to complete the exam on account of changes made, for CAT 2021, we have reduced the number of questions across all the three sections, including Quantitative Ability (QA), Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), and Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning” and further added, “We hope that this will ensure that candidates get adequate time to complete the exam.”

On account of Covid pandemic, the CAT exam time duration was reduced to two hours last year from earlier three hours, and since the Covid situation is still grim, IIM Ahmedabad is keeping the CAT 2021 exam format and pattern same as last year but the number of questions are expected to be reduced.

CAT Website Not Updated with the Information
The CAT 2021 convener has not shared how many questions will appear in the exam this year. Moreover, the CAT 2021 exam website is also not updated with the information on number of questions expected in CAT 2021, while the CAT aspirants are looking for authenticated and exact information.

MBAUniverse.com Approaches CAT 2021 Convener
Given the media reports quoting CAT exam convener Prof M P Ram Mohan, MBAUniverse.com found the best way to get the authenticated information from the CAT 2021 convener himself and quickly approached him to share what changes in the CAT 2021 test paper are proposed.

However, since it is the policy issue and the CAT convener is not supposed to disclose the exact number of questions either overall or section wise before the exam, the clear response with exact number of questions proposed in CAT question paper 2021 is yet to come. But since the CAT Convener has confirmed this fact through a media release on September 24 and to one of the most reputed national news paper, Times of India, it is very much likely that CAT 2021 question paper will have fewer questions than last year.

What happened in Past? CAT remained unpredictable
From 2015 to 2019 the CAT question paper had 100 questions and the test duration was three hours. This is also a fact that CAT does not reveal the number or type of questions or the paper pattern as it is changed without notice, so that the exam does not become predictable. So, while it’s unlikely that CAT Centre will announce the exact number of CAT 2021 questions, the exam may have reduced number of questions.

Number of Questions in CAT over the Years: Key Trends

CAT Exam Year
Total Number of Questions
Type of Questions
CAT 2009 to 2013
60
MCQs
CAT 2014
100
MCQs
CAT 2015 to 2019
100
MCQs + Non-MCQs
CAT 2020
76
MCQs + Non-MCQs
CAT 2021
64 – 70 (Expected)
MCQs+ Non MCQs

Source: MBAUniverse.com Analysis

Will IIM Ahmedabad Synchronise Reduced Time with Reduced No. of Questions?
In 2020, due to Covid, the test time was reduced to two hours and the questions were reduced from 100 to 76. But the time constraint in last year CAT was more than earlier, so it is very much likely that IIM Ahmedabad may further reduce the number of questions to rationalise and synchronize the reduced time with reduced number of questions. The proposed move by IIM Ahmedabad appears to be in line as there is ratio mismatch given the reduction in time Vs reduction in number of questions. Let us understand:

CAT Exam Year
Time limit
Percentage Decrease in Time Limit over last year
Total number of Questions
Percentage Decrease in Questions over last year
CAT 2015 to 2019
180 Minutes (3 Hours)
Remains Same
100
Remains Same
CAT 2020
120 Minutes (2 Hours)
33%
 76
24%
CAT 2021
120 Minutes (2 Hours)
Remains Same
64 to 70 (Expected)
Exact No. to be released
To be Rationalised as per reduced time limit

Section-wise Number of Questions in CAT 2021
Section wise number of questions in CAT 2021 will obviously be reduced if the overall number of questions is reduced. Last year CAT test paper was divided into three sections with VARC 26 questions, DILR 24 questions and Quant 26 questions, making a total of 76 questions. The sectional composition of questions in CAT 2021 is expected to change substantially as announced by CAT 2021 convener.

Based on past trends and changes in overall and sectional time slots, CAT experts expect a good drop in number of questions across the sections. Besides, their division in MCQs and Non-MCQs in each section is also expected to be reduced.

Section
Time Limit (in minutes)
No of Questions (Expected)
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension
40
22- 24
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning
40
22- 24
Quantitative Ability
40
20 - 22
 Total
120
64-  70

Source: MBAUniverse.com Analysis

According to Arun Sharma, CAT expert, many times CAT topper and founder of Mindworkzz, “My prime expectation would be between 66-68 questions, with sections varying between 20 to 24 questions. A small possibility of 60 questions also exists, but that is very minute in my estimate.”

No Change in CAT 2021 Paper Format
CAT 2021 test paper will be divided into three sections as per previous pattern. Since 2015, CAT exam comprises three sections as under:

  • Section I: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension 
  • Section II: Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning  
  • Section III: Quantitative Ability

Sectional Time Limit: 40 Minutes for each section
In its Media release dated September 16, 2021, IIM Ahmedabad has announced to keep the sectional time limit for each CAT section to 40 minutes like last year. This information has also been updated on CAT website.

How the reduction in number of CAT questions and before hand information will impact the CAT aspirants?
The impact could be three fold as below, in view of experts

Impact on CAT Preparation and Test Taking Strategy
Experts say that if you are aware about the expected number of total questions in CAT 2021, it would help you to plan your test taking strategy, how many questions to target, what should be maximum number of questions that you can skip. Besides, you can devise your preparation plan and take mocks as per the actual exam pattern with expected number of questions.

Impact on CAT Percentile Score
A major implication in CAT score and percentile will also be there if the number of questions are reduced in CAT 2021. According to Arun Sharma, “I would think 99 percentile will shift down by around 5 marks and there will be a similar drop at all percentile levels.” 

May Not Impact Much
The other side of the coin is that all these changes are for everyone – and not just for you. This realization is an important one and has important implication. Please note that CAT is a competitive exam where only a candidate's relative performance matters. So, whether it has more or fewer questions it would have very little or no impact.

CAT 2021 registration deadline was closed on September 22, till 5 PM and the CAT registration number this year has increased marginally to 2.31 lakhs as against 2.28 lakhs last year increasing the exam competition slightly.

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Stay tuned to MBAUniverse.com for latest updates and best expert tips on  CAT 2021