CAT Exam Pattern 2020: Sectional Composition, DILR


CAT Exam Pattern 2020: The CAT 2020 exam will be conducted on 25 November 2020(tentatively). The exam pattern for CAT (Common Admission Test) has been thoroughly revised in the past four years but the basic structure has remained the same. CAT 2020 exam pattern is expected to be similar to the past 3 year CAT exam patterns, although there could be some minor changes in the sectional composition or the number, type of questions. CAT Exam Pattern 2020 is explained here and students must refer CAT 2020 information brochure for new updates.

Students can check the CAT 2020 Registration Information Here.

CAT Exam Pattern 2020 Important Points

  • CAT Exam 2020 is a computer-based test but not an online test i.e. candidate cannot use the internet while giving the exam.
  • DURATION OF THE EXAM: 3 hours.
  • CAT EXAM 2020 is divided into 3 sections of 60 minutes each. The 3 sections are as follows; VARC-Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, DILR-Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning and QA-Quantitative Ability.
  • Candidates cannot move from one section to another during the 1 hour assigned to the particular section.
  • Candidates taking the CAT test could not leave their seats during the exam.
  • MCQs in CAT 2020 exam pattern will require the candidate to pick out or choose 1 correct answer choice out of 4.
  • Non-MCQs in CAT exam pattern will require the candidate to type-in the correct answer on the computer screen.
  • There would be no answer choices for Non-MCQs according to the revised pattern of CAT 2020.
  • Each correct answer in CAT exam pattern will be given 3 marks even if it is an MCQ or Non-MCQ.
  • Each wrong answer for MCQ in CAT exam 2020 will be imposed a penalty of the 1/3rd  negative mark (-1 mark)
  • CAT exam pattern follows the pattern of CAT official Mock test released by IIMs a month before the CAT exam.

CAT Exam Pattern 2020

The detailed information regarding the CAT Exam Pattern is given below.

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Questions Numbers
Total Questions 100
Number of sections 03
Questions with negative marking (MCQs) 75
Questions without negative marking (Non-MCQs) 25
Score awarded for each correct answer 03
Negative marking (Applicable for  wrong answers in MCQs) -1
Individual time limit [Each Section] 1 hour

CAT 2020: Sectional Exam Pattern

VARC (Verbal Ability and Reading Composition)

Total questions 34
No. of MCQs 24 to 27
No. of non-MCQs 7 to 10
Total RC passages 05
RC based questions[all MCQs] 24
Verbal Ability Questions[ mix of MCQs and not- MCQs] 10
LOD Moderate to difficult

DILR (Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning)

Total questions 32
MCQs 28
Non-MCQs 08
Share of DI questions 16
Share of LR questions 16
LoD Moderate to difficult

QUANT: Quantitative Ability

Total questions 34
MCQs 23 To 27
Non-MCQs 7 To 11
LoD Moderate to Difficult

CAT 2020 Pattern: Sectional Composition

The CAT Exam Pattern 2020 contains sectional composition and list is given below.

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Section name Total questions Total MCQs [with negative marking] Total MCQs [without negative marking] Total maximum marks
VARC 34 24 to 27 7 to 10 102
DILR 32 24 08 96
Quant 34 23 to 27 7 to 11 102
  • VARC – Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
  • DILR – Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning
  • QUANT- Quantitative Ability

Responding to queries regarding the question of whether the CAT is an online test or not. IIMs reply that CAT is a computer-based test but not an online test. As they said in an official statement “CAT is not an online exam. It is a digital or Computer Based Test (CBT); not an Internet-Based Test (IBT); that is, a candidate will not take the exam on an internet site. Instead of reading the questions in a paper booklet and darkening the ovals on answer-sheet, a candidate will read the questions on a computer terminal and choose an answer by clicking on the correct option”.

Download Paper Pattern from CAT official Website:

CAT PATTERN: Changes Since Computerization

Year Total No of Qs VA  DI-LR Quant Difficulty level Q break up
CAT 2017 100 VARC-34. RC-24, (All MCQs), Verbal-10 (3 MCQs, 7 on-MCQs) DILR-32, DI-16, LR-16, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8 Total-34. MCQs 23, Non-MCQs-11 Moderate CAT Pattern in the lines of last year with changes in non-MCQs in each section
CAT 2016 100 VARC-34, RC-24, (All MCQs), Verbal-10 (All non-MCQs) DILR-32, DI-16, LR-16, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8 Quant-34, MCQ-27, Non-MCQs-7 Moderate to difficult CAT exam pattern on the same lines as of CAT exam pattern 2015 Non-MCQs in Quant reduced.
CAT 2015 100 VARC -34, RC-24 (MCQs), Verbal-10 (Non-MCQs) DILR-32, DI-16, LR-16, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8 Quant-34, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-10 Moderate to difficult Time limit increased to 180 minutes; Sectional time concentration of 1 hour re-introduced; Non-MCQs without negative marking penalty for the wrong answer No questions on error correction and vocabulary.
CAT 2014 100 50 VARC-34 LR-16 50 Quant-34 DI-16 Moderate to difficult Test time increased to 170 minutes; Sectional time constraint removed; More questions on error correction; RC questions based on reasoning Overall moderate exam.
CAT 2013 60 30 10 verbal 10 RC 10 LR 30 DI-10 Moderate to difficult On the same pattern as last year. No new surprise element.
CAT 2012 60 30 (LR 10) 10 verbal 10 RC 10 LR 30 (DI 10) Moderate to difficult (Difficulty level was more or less maintained to the same level. Error correction-1 to 2, para jumbles-2, Completion of the last sentence of paragraph-2, Out of context Sentence in jumbled paragraph -1 to 2, Fill in the blanks vocabulary words- 1 to 2, Words used in different ways-2, Reading comprehension – three passages with 3 to 4 questions each (Common question in almost all the sessions from 11th Oct.2012 to 6th Nov.2012 – Tone of the author-at least two questions in every session) New or surprise element – Two questions on ‘Out of context sentences in jumbled paragraph’ – Paragraph had to be placed in order and the out of context sentence had to be picked out. Permutations & Combinations, Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Mensuration, Number Systems, Modern Maths.
CAT 2011 60 30(LR 10) 30(DI10) Moderate to difficult-LOD>2 Jumbled sentences, error correction, Vocabulary, RC, grammar Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Mensuration, Number Systems, Modern Maths
CAT 2010 60 20 20 20 Moderate to difficult-LOD>2 RC, Grammar, Para jumbles, sentence correction & completion,

Quant was tougher compared to CAT 2009. The areas were more calculation-intensive and needed conceptual understanding.

CAT 2009 60 20 20 20 Moderate-
LOD=2 overall
Sentence rearrangement, Grammar, comprehension, correction of errors, sentence completion, Usage Vocabulary
Number System, Algebra, Mensuration, and Commercial Math.