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Common Admission Test (CAT) is an all India Entrance test conducted by IIMs. The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) started this exam and is a pre-requisite for selecting students for their business administration programs. This computer-based test is conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) for admission to their 2-year full time postgraduate programs in management. Other Indian business schools like IITs, FMS, S P Jain, MDI, and NITIE also accept CAT scores as part of their selection process.

From 2009 onwards, CAT became a computer based test wherein subjects are subdivided into different areas i.e.: Quantitative Ability, Data Interpretation, Data Sufficiency, Logical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Verbal Reasoning and Verbal Ability.  Until CAT 2013, the CAT was held over a window of a couple of weeks in October/November. In CAT 2014, when TCS started conducting the test, the structure of the test was changed, and the test window was reduced to two days. From 2015, CAT has become a one-day test and it was conducted by IIM Ahmedabad. . In 2016, CAT 2016 pattern remained unchanged and was conducted by IIM Bangalore on 4th December 2016. In 2017, CAT 2017 pattern remained unchanged and was conducted by IIM Lucknow on 26th November 2017.

The much awaited IIM CAT 2018 notification is out. In 2018, IIM Calcutta shall conduct the CAT 2018 exam with TCS as the technology support partner on 25th November 2018. The CAT 2017 Convenor Professor Sumanta Basu, IIM Calcutta PGP Admission Chairperson announced the notification on 29th July 2018. Click here to check the official IIM CAT website details!


Who can apply

To appear for the CAT, the candidate must hold a Bachelor's degree, with at least 50 percent marks or equivalent CGPA (45 percent in case of the candidates belonging to Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST) and Differently Abled (DA)), awarded by any of the Universities incorporated by an act of the central or state legislature in India or other educational institutions established by an act of Parliament or declared to be deemed as a University under Section 3 of the UGC Act, 1956, or possess an equivalent qualification recognised by the Ministry of HRD, Government of India.

Candidates appearing for the final year of bachelor’s degree/equivalent qualification examination and those who have completed degree requirements and are awaiting results can also apply. If selected, such candidates will be allowed to join the programme provisionally, only if he/she submits a certificate latest by June 30 (of the admission year) from the Principal/Registrar of his/her College/Institute stating that the candidate has completed all the requirements for obtaining the bachelor’s degree/equivalent qualification on the date of the issue of the certificate.


How to apply

If you meet the eligibility criteria, you need to register for the test and make an online payment.

In order to register you will have to visit the official CAT website and take the following steps

  1. Fill the CAT application form.
  2. Make the payment via a valid credit, debit card or online net banking facility.


Structure and Pattern of CAT

From 2009 onwards, CAT became a computer based test.

For CAT 2018, the IIMs have not changed the structure and continue to be a 3 section test. However, the number of questions in each of the section is not specified.

For reference purpose, refer the below table with the details as per CAT 2017:

Section Section Name Total Number of questions Time
Section-I Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension 34 60min
Section-II Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning 32 60min
Section-III Quantitative Ability 34 60min
  Total 100 180min

The Scoring pattern of CAT 2017 will be +3 for each correct answer and -1 for each wrong answer. The students are also scaled on percentiles which are the criteria for short listing students for the next round.

Apart from the CAT, an MBA aspirant may need to take a few more entrance tests based on the list of B-Schools one is planning to apply to. Some of the important B-School entrance tests are XAT, IIFT, NMAT, SNAP, TISS-NET, CET (Mah), CMAT, MAT and ATMA. These tests are generally unpredictable in their structure and composition. Whilst the objective of the test to assess the students’ aptitude in the broad areas of Quantitative, Verbal, Logical and Analytical Reasoning remains unchanged, the same cannot be said about the weightage given to each area. Increasingly, many institutes are also testing the students’ awareness of current affairs and general knowledge. The two prime requirements to beat these tests are (a) a really thorough knowledge of each basic area and (b) a consciously cultivated ability to think on one’s feet. Find below the test structure analysis of the latest edition of each of the above tests: 

Test Name Test Mode Test Date(s) Institutes Accepting Test Structure
XAT (Xavier Aptitude Test) Online January 2019 XLRI, S.P.Jain, MICA, XIM-B, GIM, K.J.Somaiya, LIBA, Praxis, TAPMI, Welingkar XAT
IIFT (own test) Paper-based 2nd December 2018 IIFT (Delhi/Kolkata/Kakinada) IIFT
SNAP (Symbisosis National Aptitude Test) Online December 2018 SIBM Pune, SCMHRD, SIBM Bangalore, SIIB, SIMC, SIMS, SITM, SIOM, SCIT,SIHS, SICSR, SSBF SNAP
NMAT (Narsee Monjee Aptitude Test) Online 4th October 2018 to 17th December 2018 NMIMS-all campuses along with 15 other b-schools in India NMAT
TISSNET Online January 2018 TISS TISS



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