CAT Exam Pattern Changes in the Last 5 Years

Aditi Gupta updated on : 23 Sep 2016

The CAT exam pattern has changed quite a few times in the last five years. Here’s an overview!

CAT Exam Pattern Changes in the Last 5 Years

The CAT 2016 is all set to take place on December 4, 2016. This year, the CAT exam is being conducted by IIM Bangalore. The registration process for the same has already started and will continue till September 27, 2016. It is a computer-based aptitude test conducted by the IIMs every year. It has been designed to test the candidates’ Quantitative, Reasoning, Verbal and Data Interpretation skills.

CAT, one of the toughest entrance examinations in India, is taken by lakhs of management aspirants every year. In the last 5 years, management aspirants have witnessed quite a few changes in the exam pattern of CAT. While there is no official announcement of any changes in this year’s exam, you may take a look at the changes that happened over the past 5 years and prepare yourselves for anything new.

The CAT exam pattern has changed 3 times over the last 5 years. Although the topics like Quantitative Ability, Data Interpretation, Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning remain the same, their combinations, sectional weightage and marking keeps changing from time to time.

An Overview of the Last 5 Year CAT Exam Pattern:

The CAT test structure has seen many changes over the last 5 years. In 2015, it had been decided that the exam will be segregated into three sections instead of two section system that was followed previously.


No. of Questions




100 (QA- 34, VRC- 34, DI & LR-32)

Sec. 1- Quantitative Ability

Sec. 2- Verbal & Reading Comprehension

Sec. 3- Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning

180 minutes


100 (50 per section)

Sec. 1- Quantitative Ability &Data Interpretation

Sect. 2- Verbal Ability &  Logical  Reasoning

170 minutes


60 (30 per section)

Same as above

140 minutes


60 (30 per section)

Same as above

140 minutes


60 (30 per section)

Same as above

140 minutes


60 (20 per section)

Sec. 1- Verbal Ability

Sec. 2- Quantitative Ability

Sec. 3- Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning

150 minutes

*The sections mentioned in the above table are not in particular order.


  • Over the last five years, the number of questions per sections has changed a lot
  • The segregation of sections has remained unchanged for 4 consecutive years, but some-how the pattern of 2015 is similar to that of 2010, the difference between them is mainly of sectional weightage and the duration of the exam
  • The marking scheme has remained unchanged i.e.  +3 and -1 (not in the table)

A Brief Analysis of CAT Previous Papers

CAT 2015:

Section 1- The RC questions in CAT 2015 were easy to comprehend and were merely based on facts whereas the VA questions were tricky but easy to solve.

Section 2- The section was considered difficult since the DI & LR questions needed intensive calculation and most of them were not even straight-forward. This section had been considered the make or break point for the students.

Section 3- The QA section was comparatively easy as it had questions based on core concepts, which did not need intensive calculations.

Overall, CAT 2015 was high on the difficulty level as it was designed in a different way. Last year, the CAT paper was conducted by IIM Ahmedabad.

CAT 2014:

CAT 2014 was conducted by IIM Indore once again. The overall paper in 2014 included questions ranging from moderate to tough. This paper had an entirely new pattern in which the LR was the toughest. The QA & DI section had moderate difficulty level questions and the VA & LR section had tricky questions.

CAT 2013:

CAT 2013 was conducted by IIM Indore. There were no changes in the CAT 2013 paper. The usual two-section pattern was followed in 2013. The difficulty level ranged from moderate to tough. Because of the controversy that took place that year, there was a dip in the number of applicants and even lower number of students who appeared for the test.As a result of which, the students who did not even attempt a single question were also placed around 55 percentile bracket.

CAT 2012:

CAT 2012 was conducted by IIM Kozhikode. It was similar to CAT 2013 in terms of exam pattern and difficulty level.

CAT 2011:

CAT 2011 was conducted by IIM Calcutta. There was a major change in the exam pattern of CAT 2011 as compared to that of CAT 2010. The exam had two sections, instead of 3. The exam was taken by approximately 2.05 lakhs students. The difficulty level was tough because of the new pattern and changes.

CAT 2010:

CAT 2010 was conducted by IIM Lucknow. The difficulty level was moderate. It was a 2 hour 30 minutes paper, which consisted of 60 question. In 2010, the CAT paper included3 sections, namely- Verbal Ability, Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning. The pattern changed after the year 2010.


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