CAT Syllabus 2020

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Updated on
October 12, 2020

CAT Syllabus 2020: Read & Download Latest Exam Syllabus 

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Important Update: CAT 2020 Syllabus with Exam Pattern changed; Check 5 Big changes announced by IIM Indore


IIM INdore will conduct CAT 2020 Exam on November 29, 2020 with substantial changes in CAT exam pattern. Due to these changes, the CAT 2020 exam syllabus 2020 and the changes in topics on which questions can be asked are also changed.


There will be three slots in CAT exam 2020 instead of earlier two slots due to Covid-19 pandemic situation. The exam is expected to consist of 30% fewer number of questions as against previous years. However, the pattern of the question paper is to remain the same as per previous years CAT exam as the exam remains divided in the three sections. There is also no change in the CAT 2020 testing mode despite Covid-19 pandemic. .  

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Key Changes in CAT Exam 2020 Syllabus & Pattern
CAT Center at IIM Indore has overahuled CAT 2020 exam structure, time duration, testing slots among other changes as detailed below:

  1. CAT 2020 exam duration is  reduced from 180 minutes to 120 minutes: The revised duration of CAT 2020 will be of  120 minutes. Last year it was 180 minutes. This is a big change.
  2. Section wise time limit Reduced to 40 mins: Candidates will be allotted only 40 minutes for answering questions in each section. They will not be allowed to switch from one section to another while answering questions in a section. Last year the time limit was 60 minutes for each section. This will change the way candidates prepare and take the exam.
  3. CAT 2020 continues to have Three Sections: No change in number of sections announced for CAT 2020. There will be same three sections on Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension  (VARC);  Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) and Quantitative Ability (QA)
  4. IIM Indore not to reveal the number or type of questions or the paper pattern: In fact, the CAT pattern is regularly changed so that the exam does not become predictable. This is the reason that CAT Center 2020 has not updated the number and sectional composition of questions in CAT 2020 on official CAT website. Read More on CAT 2020 duration, expected number of questions
  5. CAT 2020 Exam in Three Sessions: CAT 2020 will be conducted on November 29, 2020 (Sunday) in three sessions in Morning, Afternoon and Evening. Earlier there were two sessions. So, there will be an extra session this year to accommodate social distancing norms.

The key changes in CAT exam slots and slot timings are:

CAT Exam 2020
CAT exam 2019
CAT exam date
November 29, 2020
November 24, 2019
Number of Sessions
Morning CAT Session Timing
8.30 AM to 10.30 AM
9 AM to 12 Noon
Afternoon CAT Session Time
12.30 PM to 2.30 PM
2.30 PM to 5.30 PM
Evening CAT session Time
4.30 PM to 6.30 PM
No third session

Let us understand the revised CAT syllabus and exam pattern in detail. This article prepared by CAT experts will share complete overview, sectional details and weightages of topics in CAT syllabus and pattern.


So far as the CAT 2020 test sections are concerned, CAT syllabus 2020 can be divided into three sections: Quantitative Ability (QA); Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) and Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC). For better understanding and preparation, the CAT MBA Syllabus 2020 for each section can be divided into sub-sections.  

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CAT 2020 Syllabus: An Overview
Let’s start with a broad understanding of CAT Syllabus. Till last year, there were total 100 questions in CAT exam but this year with the reduction in CAT test duration to 2 hours from earlier 3 hours, the number of questions, according to experts are expected to go down by 30% to 33%. The total number of questions in new CAT pattern may not exceed beyond 70-72, although the exam remains divided into same three sections as earlier.


CAT 2020 Exam: Revised Sectional Composition
The table below shares the CAT exam sectional order from Section-1 to Section-3, likely number and type of questions in each section, questions with and without negative marking and total maximum marks available for each section as per scoring pattern announced for CAT 2020

Section as per CAT exam Pattern
Total questions
Expected Total MCQs (With negative marking)
Expected Total Non-MCQs (Without negative marking)
Total maximum marks
Section-1: Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)
Section-2: Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)
Section-3: Quantitative Ability (QA)

Source: analysis and experts predictions

Important: Read more top articles on CAT 2020

The three sections in CAT syllabus carry different weightages in the exam. Although the CAT syllabus 2020 is divided into 3 sections, the effective number of sections are five as VARC and DILR sections are further sub-divided into 2 sub sections. Read details below.

CAT Syllabus Sectional Division
Overview of Topics in the CAT Syllabus 2020
Weightage in CAT exam
Quantitative Ability (QA)
Arithmetic, Modern Math, Number System
Algebra, Mensuration, Trigonometry, Geometry
Data Interpretation& Logical Reasoning (DILR)
Data Charts, Data Tables, Bar Graphs, Venn Diagrams, Seating arrangement, Team formation, Clocks & Calendars
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)
Long & Short Passages,  Jumbled Paragraphs; Para-summary, Picking the Out of context sentence from a jumbled paragraph

Despite being very wide, the CAT entrance exam syllabus is neither specifically defined nor released by IIMs. Instead, IIMs release an official Mock Test which is as per the forthcoming CAT exam topics and consists of question types which are expected in actual CAT Exam. 


Sectional Topics in CAT Syllabus
The broad break-up of topics as given above for CAT syllabus is as under. You may find most of the questions in CAT exam based on following CAT syllabus topics

Quantitative Ability (QA)
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)
Data comparison from Table
Main idea in the passage
Ratio & Proportion
Bar charts - Simple, Stacked, Composite Bar charts
Inferences, Statements, Arguments
Pie charts
Profit and Loss
Phrasal meaning & Usage
Interest (Simple and Compound)
Data Analysis
Para Summary
Speed, Time and Distance Time and Work
Direction sense
Jumbled paragraphs 
Number System
Team formation
Odd sentence out of Jumbled paragraph
Seating Arrangement
Error Corrections
Blood Relation
Sequence of sentences
Pure Math
Vocabulary usage
Venn diagrams
Fill in the blanks
Linear Equations
Binary logic
Completion of Paragraph
Quadratic Equations
Logical Sequence
Complex Numbers
Critical Reasoning
Sentence Completion
Binomial Theorem
Linear and matrix arrangement
Surds and Indices
Permutation and Combination Probability Functions
Set Theory
Mixtures and Alligations
Co-ordinate Geometry
Set Theory
 Venn Diagrams
Network Diagrams
Quantitative Reasoning

CAT Syllabus Section Wise
The CAT exam syllabus section wise is not limited to these three sections only, as they are further sub-divided. This sub-division makes MBA CAT syllabus 2020 divided into 5 effective sections. Check below in detail the key sections, their sub-divisions, number of questions on important topics in the MBA CAT syllabus.


1. CAT Syllabus for Quantitative Ability (QA): Weightage 
Quantitative Ability (QA) is the Mathematics section in CAT exam. Although, the CAT syllabus for Quant is very wide, the questions and topics in it are of class 10 & 12 standard. Earlier this section had 34 questions but in CAT exam 2020, the Quant Section is likely to have 22-24 questions. Out of them 6-8 questions in the section will be of Non-MCQ type without carrying penalty of negative marking.


IIMs have started giving more emphasis on Arithmetic questions in CAT entrance exam syllabus to promote diversity. While maximum 10-12 questions are expected from Arithmetic in CAT 2020, the questions on other topics like Algebra, Geometry and others are expected in the range of 2-3. Below is shared the topic wise syllabus and likely number of questions with their weightage in the exam

CAT Syllabus Topics in Quant Section
No. of Questions in CAT 2020
Averages; Ratio & Proportion  
1-2 Questions
Speed, Time and Distance; Time and Work
1-2 Questions 
1-2 Questions 
Percentages, Profit and Loss
1-2 Questions
Interest (Simple and Compound)
1-2 Questions
Number System
1-2 Questions
1-2 Questions
1-2 Questions
Venn diagrams and other topics
1-2 Questions
Linear Equations; Quadratic Equations Complex Numbers
1-2 Questions
Logarithm; Progressions
1-2 Questions
Binomial Theorem
1-2 Questions
Surds and Indices; Inequalities
1-2 Questions
Permutation and Combination
1-2 Questions
Probability Functions
1-2 Questions
Set Theory; Mixtures and Alligations
1-2 Questions
Co-ordinate Geometry
1-2 Questions
1-2 Questions

2. CAT Syllabus for Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR): Sectional Weightage
CAT 2020 Syllabus for Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) is divided in 2 parts –  Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning with equal number of questions and carries a weightage of 32%. Till last year there were 32 questions in this section which carried 32% weightage in CAT. In CAT 2020 it is expected there would be 20-22 questions which would be equally divided into DI & LR questions and would carry same number of Non-MCQs for each part. Out of the total likely 20-22 questions in this section, Data Interpretation (DI) part would have 10-11 questions and the Logical Reasoning part will also have 10-11 questions. Around 6-8 questions are expected to be of Non-MCQ type which do not have negative marking for wrong answer.


Almost all the questions are in sets of 3-4 questions based on each problem. 2-3 DI and 2-3 LR problems can be followed by 20-22 questions in this section.  Below is shared the topic wise CAT entrance exam syllabus on which problems are based in this section

DILR Topics
  • Bar charts - Simple, Stacked, Composite Bar charts
  • Pie charts
  • Caselets
  • Data Analysis
  • Data comparison from Table
  • Graphs
  • Direction sense
  • Team formation
  • Seating Arrangement
  • Blood Relation
  • Clocks
  • Calendars
  • Binary logic
  • Logical Sequence
  • Assumption
  • Premise
  • Conclusion
  • Linear and matrix arrangement
  • Input-Output
  • Series
  • Syllogism
  • Cubes
  • Rows
  • Set Theory
  • Venn Diagrams

3. CAT Syllabus for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC): Sectional Weightage
Common Admission Test (CAT) syllabus for VARC section is divided into 2 parts. The 1st part of CAT syllabus covers topics on Reading Comprehension passages and the 2nd part of CAT MBA syllabus 2020 on VARC covers topics on Verbal Ability. Total questions in this section in CAT 2020 are likely to be 22-24 out of which 6-8 questions would be of Non-MCQ type which do not carry negative marking. The 34% weightage of VARC syllabus in overall CAT exam is divided into 24% to RC syllabus and 10% to VA syllabus.


There are likely 3-4 long and short English Comprehension passages in VARC section. 6 questions are based on each long passage and 3 questions are based on each shorter passage. Alternately, in CAT 2020, uniform number of 5 questions may follow 3 RC passages and 1 RC Passage may be  followed by 4 questions. Total questions based on Reading Comprehension are 70% of total VARC questions and usually are of MCQ type with negative marking.


Verbal Ability part has individual questions that covers different areas of English language grammar and usage. The questions are of Non-MCQ type without the penalty of negative marking. Below is shared the topic wise VARC CAT syllabus and expected number of questions in the exam. Experts suggest to prepare on all these topics and better to check the CAT paper based test papers from 1992 to 2005, as with the changed CAT 2020 pattern question can be asked on different topics as under:

VARC Topics 
No. of questions expected in CAT 2020 exam
Inferences, Statements, Arguments
4-5 Questions
Main idea in the RC Passage
2-3 Questions
Author’s assumption 
2-3 Questions
2-3 Questions
Meaning of the phrase 
2-3 Questions
Para Summary
3-4 Questions
Jumbled paragraphs 
1-2 Questions
Pick Out of Context Sentence 
1-2 Questions
Error Correction in Sentences
1-2 Questions
Sequence of sentences 
1-2 Questions
Fill in the blanks 
1-2 Questions
Completion of Paragraph
1-2 Questions
1-2 Questions
Critical Reasoning
1-2 Questions
Sentence Completion
1-2 Questions
Irrelevant Statements
1-2 Questions
Vocabulary usage
2-3 Questions

3.1 Key areas in RC Syllabus
The English Reading comprehension passages in CAT entrance exam syllabus are taken from a wide area which includes, current affairs, Literature, Business Economy among others as detailed under. Diverse reading of topics in following areas will help you cover the CAT exam syllabus in VARC

  • Current affairs making impact on Social Life, International Affairs, Govt policies and Schemes for example New Education Policy, Triple Talaq, CAA, Covid 19 Pandemic, Clean India Mission, Migration of people from one country to other, Growing intolerance across the Globe,
  • Business & Economic RC Passages for example Global economic changes, economic development at the cost of environment, Impact of Demonetization in India, Wasteful expenditure by Governments
  • RC passages from various English Literature books, from articles authored by great philosophers, thinkers, from various speeches of great personalities like passages from Charles Dickens, Aristotle, Martin Luther King, Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi, Churchill among others
  • Passages on Science & Culture including the journey to Modern world; Fading culture with the advancement of technology
  • Abstract topics and fiction are also included in the Reading Comprehension Syllabus for CAT. These Passages make the candidates think well before leading to put themselves in the author’s shoes before answering the questions following these passages since they are opinion based.
  • RC Passages on Historical events leading to social changes for example French Revolution, War of Roses, Social changes in Indian History and thoughts shared by  various activists which are very much relevant even today
  • RC Passages from Mythology. These passages try to correlate the Mythological events with the current social structure and answers to the questions on them have to be inferred 

3.2 Format of Questions in Reading Comprehension (RC)
While the Verbal Ability questions are of Non-MCQ type, all the RC Passage based questions are of MCQ type with penalty of 1/3rd negative marking. The questions are based on information in RC passage; explanation of the words & phrases as used in the passage; In context of the passage –True/false statements; Author’s view on various issues raised in the RC passage; Inference from the passage; main idea of RC passage; Purpose of the RC passage


3.3 Length of RC passages in CAT
Longer RC passages are of around 900 words; shorter passages are of around 600 words in CAT exam as reflected in last 5 years.


Download Latest CAT Syllabus Pdf 2020
The updated CAT syllabus PDF 2020 can help you boost your CAT preparation as per the current CAT pattern. The CAT syllabus 2020 Pdf download is available free with existing and expected topics covered in the CAT syllabus pdf download document alongwith the type of questions expected in the CAT exam.


Click Here for CAT Syllabus 2020 Pdf Download Free


How do CAT Toppers cover the Complete CAT Exam Syllabus?
CAT 2019 toppers with 100 percentile, 99 percentile and others studying at IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Lucknow, Udaipur, MDI Gurgaon devised the strategy to cover the CAT syllabus which helped them crack CAT exam with high percentile overall and sectionwise. Read below the toppers’ plan to cover the syllabus:


Rahul Gupta, CAT 2019 topper with 100 percentile: IIM Ahmedabad student
To complete the CAT exam syllabus, Rahul Gupta took following steps:

  • Initially focused on getting the basics correct and solving some easy questions to get comfortable with the subject then move on to try higher level problems
  • Started giving the mocks as soon as they started instead of waiting till end.
  • Used to analyze the solutions extensively to check what mistakes I made or the questions I missed during the test. It helped me to decide the topics I needed to put more efforts in.

Shantanu Singh Yadav, CAT 2019 topper with 99.73 percentile: IIM Ahmedabad Student
Shantanu judiciously divided his time to cover the complete MBA CAT syllabus and adopted following strategy

  • I devoted equal time to all the three sections with some extra effort towards DI and LR which is I believe is the most unpredictable section in the exam. You could practice a hell lot of LR sets prior to the exam but might still hassle on the D-Day.
  • LR sets are not straightforward like Quants or DI sets. Timing my complete mocks and sectional tests along with thoroughly analysing my wrong as well as right attempts turned out to be fruitful.
  • Since the CAT entrance exam syllabus is so wide and even has no boundaries defined for VARC and DILR, last minute hustle mostly turns fruitless and overloads you with added stress

Tanuj Ruia, CAT 2019 topper with 99.69 percentile: IIM Bangalore student
Tanuj Ruia took a faster mode to cover the CAT exam syllabus with a mix of CAT preparation and shares “After clearing my fundamentals and the basics, I enrolled for the mock series. It helped me in analysing my current level of preparation, my weaknesses and my rank amongst a pool of serious aspirants”


Anushree Naik, CAT 2019 topper with 98.20 percentile: IIM Ahmedabad student
Anushree was very particular to complete her CAT entrance exam syllabus in time and utilized her travel time also in preparation. She has shared her strategy, “I studied for about 3 hours on week days by solving QA sectional tests, practicing a lot of data interpretation and logical reasoning (DILR) sets and utilised my travel time to work in reading books, building a vocabulary and solving math quizzes on my phone. My weekends were dedicated to attending classes, covering major chunk of the portion, solving mock tests and analysing my strengths and weaknesses through them.”


Nikita Agarwal, CAT 2019 topper with 99.22 percentile: MDI Gurgaon Student
Consistent practice helped Nikita to cover complete CAT syllabus. Sharing her strategy, she says, “I used to give practice all the three sections consistently. I never skipped a particular section, say VARC, because I had to focus on Quants. Learning to strike a balance between three sections is really necessary.”


Read More: CAT 2020- Exam Date, Registration, Syllabus, Preparation, Books

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