CAT has undergone many changes in the past few years. In the year 2015, CAT was announced with an introduction of on-screen calculator and non-MCQs. The test paper was also divided into three time bound sections instead of two sections as in the previous year.

The duration of the test was also increased to 180 minutes from an earlier duration of 170 minutes. The changes in CAT exam pattern were not new as prior to CAT 2011 the exam followed a three-section structure along with a sectional time limit. 

CAT Pattern over the Years

Year

Number of Question

Sections

Marking Scheme

Duration

Conducting body

Other Element

2018

100 (32 in 1 section and 34 in other 2 sections)

Quantitative Ability (QA), Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VRC) and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DI & LR).

+3, -1, no negative marking for Non-MCQs

180 minutes

IIM Calcutta

 

2017

100 (32 in 1 section and 34 in other 2 sections)

Quantitative Ability (QA), Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VRC) and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DI & LR).

+3, -1, no negative marking for Non-MCQs

180 minutes

IIM Lucknow

-

2016

100 (32 in 1 section and 34 in other 2 sections)

Quantitative Ability (QA), Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VRC) and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DI & LR).

+3, -1, no negative marking for Non-MCQs

180 minutes

IIM Bangalore

-

2015

100 (32 in one section and 34 in other two sections)

Quantitative Ability, Verbal and Reading Comprehension and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning

+3, -1, no negative marking for Non-MCQs

180 minutes

IIM Ahmedabad

Introduction of Calculator/ Induction of Non-MCQ

2014

100 (50 per section)

Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation, Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning (not in particular order)

+3, - 1

17 0 minutes or 2 hours and 50 minutes

IIM Indore

Test was divided into two sections/Introduction of the two-day test window

2013

60 (30 per section)

Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation, Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning (In first and second order)

+3, -1

140 minutes or 2 hours 20 minutes

IIM Indore

Conducted on last years’ pattern

2012

60 (30 per section)

Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation, Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning (In first and second order)

+3, -1

140 minutes or 2 hours 20 minutes

IIM Kozhikode

-

2011

60 (30 per section)

Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation, Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning (In first and second order)

+3, -1

140 minutes or 2 hours 20 minutes

IIM Calcutta

-

In the year 2014, CAT was conducted by IIM Indore in an absolutely new pattern. There were two sections with 50 questions each. While in CAT 2013, there were two sections and each section had 30 questions.

CAT 2011, conducted by IIM Calcutta also underwent a major change in terms of the exam pattern. Instead of three, the exam had two sections, Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning & Verbal Ability. While the areas of testing remained the same, the four areas were merged into two. The total number of questions remained 60 with each section having 30 questions.

In the year 2009, from the traditional paper-pencil based test, CAT became a computer-based test with a duration of 2 hours and 15 minutes. IIM Ahmedabad conducted the test and it was Prometric India Pvt. Ltd.’s first year as the online testing partner.

New Elements in CAT 2018

  • Seven new exam cities have been added to the list of 140 cities of last year. CAT will be administered in 147 cities this year. Two new states are added - Mizoram and Nagaland.

  • The application fee has been revised and increased to Rs. 1900 for General / NC-OBC candidates and Rs. 950 for SC, ST & PWD candidates. Earlier the CAT registration fee was Rs. 1800 and Rs. 900 respectively.

  • Mode of Registration Fee Payment - The new CAT payment partners are BillDesk, PayU and Paytm.

  • This year onwards, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, will also accept the CAT score for admission to its MBA programme offered by the School of Management and Entrepreneurship.

Changes in the CAT Test window over the years 

CAT has also observed changes in terms of its testing window. As per the trend, CAT has been conducted in November every year. However, in 2016, IIM Bangalore conducted on Sunday, December 4, 2016, in two slots. This is for the first time that CAT was conducted in December since the introduction of the computer-based exam in 2009.   

The single day testing helps minimise controversies around normalisation processes. Since its inception year 2009 till 2013, computer-based CAT was conducted in a 20-day window starting from October to November, in two slots each day. In the year 2014, IIM Indore announced CAT as a two-day test to be conducted in November. While the test window was reduced gradually the number of slots continued to two throughout the years.

CAT Test Taking Window over the Years

Year Testing Window Slots
2018 1 Day 2 slots
2017 1 Day 2 slots
2016 1 Day 2 slots
2015 1 Day 2 slots
2014 2 Days 4 slots
2009-2013 20-day window 40 slots

Also, prior to 2014, applicants the had liberty to choose their test date, slot, and the exam centre while filling their application form. The option was scrapped from 2014 as applicants could only provide exam city preference.

CAT Registration Trend over the Years

Last year, the total number of successful registration was 2,31,000. Though the total number of candidates who registered for CAT 2017 was 2.80 lakh, about 50000 candidates skipped final payment option.

CAT 2016 received applications from 2,32,434 candidates which were highest in past seven years. The actual number of test takers was around 1,95,000. This was the highest application number for CAT after the year 2009 when IIMs had received about 2.41 lakh applications.

After witnessing the worst-ever application numbers for CAT 2015, IIM Ahmedabad extended the application deadline by five days. According to the IIMA officials, the total number of registrations received till the original registration deadline was 1,38,000, compared to the registered 1.90 lakh candidates in the year 2015. The CAT 2015 registrations number increased to a total of 2.18 lakh, after the second deadline. 

CAT Application Trend

Year Number of Registrations
2017 2,31,000
2016 2,32,434
2015 2,18,664
2014 1,96,988
2013 1,94,516
2012 2,14,000
2011 2,05,000
2010 2,04,000
2009 2,41,000
2008 2,90,000
2007 2,50,000