CAT 2021: Eligibility, Registration, Exam Dates, Pattern, Syllabus, Preparation, Fees, Cut-Offs, and much more

January 19, 2021

CAT 2021: Eligibility, Registration, Exam Dates, Pattern, Syllabus, Preparation, Fees, Cut-Offs, and much more

Common Admission Test is a National Level Exam conducted by the Indian Institute of Management for admissions. There are around 1200 B-Schools across India in which students are selected based on their CAT percentile. CAT Exam is said to be conducted at the end of November on Sunday. The tentative date is November 28, 2021. This is a computer-based exam for which different centers are allotted to the candidates. Out of 400 centers, students can pick the 4 nearest ones where they would like to give the exam.


Eligibility Criteria for CAT Exam:

·         Candidates who have completed a Bachelor's degree in any subject with a minimum 50% aggregate or an equivalent CGPA 45 percent aggregate for SC, ST, or other backward classes from a recognized university are eligible to give the exam.

·         Students who will be appearing for the final examinations of their Bachelor's Degree/equivalent qualification or are expecting their results soon are also eligible.

·         Candidates must have a professional degree like CA/CS/ICWA with a minimum of 50% aggregate.

CAT Exam Pattern 2021

CAT question paper comprises of 

·         100 Questions in MCQ format

·         100 Questions in Non- MCQ format

Earlier students were allotted 180 minutes to complete the exam, but in 2020 the time duration was reduced to 120 minutes. The section vise time limit was deducted to 40 minutes instead of 60 minutes. In 2021 it might be possible that the exam pattern might come back to 180 minutes only. It has 3 sections they are partitioned according to the marking as :

·         Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension- 34 Marks

·         Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning- 32 Marks

·         Quantitative Aptitude- 34 Marks

Marking Scheme as per the guidelines:

·         3 Marks for each correct answer

·         Negative marking of minus 1 for each wrong answer

·         No negative marking for wrong Non-MCQ answer

Total Marks are 300.


Registration Process and Fees of CAT Exam 2021

The whole process of form filling, fee submission is to be done online. Students need to create their accounts on the official website of CAT( The registration for CAT 2021 will start in the first week of August and will continue till the third week of September. The application fee is Rs. 2000 for General and OBC candidates and Rs. 1000 for SC, ST, and PwD students. Application fee should be paid by debit/credit card or net banking. Passport size photo with scanned signature and Category certificate needs to be uploaded while applying for the exam. Candidates get a choice to select the nearest 4 centers where they would prefer to give the exam. There will be an option to choose IIM courses and IIIM campuses, in which the students are willing to apply after the declaration of CAT results.


Preparation for CAT in 2021:

Students can either go to coaching centers or use the self-study material to prepare for the exam. In both cases, candidates need to start preparing at least 8 to 9 months before the exam to get a good percentile. They should give at least 6 to 7 hours a day to understand the topics, practice past year papers, and solve the available mock tests. Various coaching centers provide the most desirable coaching facilities and study material to their students. Some of these institutes are TIME (Triumphant Institute of Management Education), Career Launcher, IMS Learning Centre, etc.

 Important dates to be considered while applying for CAT 2021

The final date for CAT Exam 2021 will be announced in the last week of July.

·         CAT 2021 notification release Last week of July 2021                  

·         CAT 20221 registration start the First week of August 2021

·         Registrations end the Third week of September 2021

·         Admit Card release Fourth week of October 2021

·         CAT Exam 2021 28 November 2021 (Tentative)

·         CAT answer key release First week of December 2021

·         Answer key challenge process First week of December 2021       

·         CAT 2021 result declaration Second week of January 2022


CAT Cut off in 2020

The minimum CAT cut off for top MBA colleges, or the IIMs is expected to be around 90 percentile in 2020. Top B- Schools and other 20 IIMs in India fix their own cut off to select candidates for admissions in their colleges. Students need to score really high marks approx 99+ percentile, to get admissions in the Top IIMs, like IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta, IIM Lucknow, etc. The CAT cut-offs are different for different categories. Students from the General category have higher cut-offs than the reserved category students, cut-off is not that high for the lower category students.

 CAT 2020 Cutoff Slot 1

 99.5%ile  43 39 45 115
99%ile 40 35 40 101
98%ile 38 31 37 96
95%ile 34 26 30 78


Expected CAT Cut offs 2020 for IIMs are given in the below table  

            IIMs Expected CAT cut offs (Percentile)
IIM Ahmedabad 99-100
IIM Bangalore 99-100
IIM Calcutta 99
IIM Lucknow 97-98
IIM Indore 97-98
IIM Kozhikode 97-98
IIM Amritsar 95-96
IIM Nagpur 95-96
IIM Sambalpur 95-96
IIM Trichy 94-95
IIM Raipur 94-95
IIM Ranchi 94-95

Difference between CAT Qualifying Cut Off v/s CAT Final Cut off

These two cut-offs play an important role in the admission process of IIMs.

Qualifying CAT cut off is the IIM's eligibility cut off. It depicts the minimum marks that a candidate must score to be eligible for the interview call (for WAT/GD-PI round) from the IIMs. Only meeting the cut off does not mean that the candidate is definitely selected for the next round. This cut off gets fixed even before the announcement of the CAT result. Each campus announces its own CAT cut off percentile for the academic year. The qualifying cut off includes both the sectional as well as the overall cut off of the student. This cut off varies from category to category. The cut-off for general category students is high (90) compared to the reserved category students (70 and below).

·         The final CAT cut-offs are the IIM Call cut-offs.

It is the minimum percentile score that is fixed by the IIMs for the enrollment of candidates in the WAT/GD-PI round. Indian Institute of Management Studies fixes the final cut off after the declaration of the CAT result. The final cut-offs are not officially announced by any IIM or other top MBA institutes in the list. The final cut off is fixed for different categories. A male student from General Category with a background in engineering will have a high final cut-off compared to a reserved category student, a female student, or even those with non-engineering backgrounds.

FAQs Regarding CAT Cut Off 

Q: Are the CAT Cut off the same for every student?

A: No, the cut-offs vary from category to category. General category students have a higher cut off than a reserved category student.

Q: What is the full form of CAT?

A: Common Admission Test is the full form of CAT.

Author: Swaranshi Chhabra

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