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CAT Previous Year Paper Pattern Analysis | Are Questions in Quants Going to Change?
June 22 2024

The Common Admission Test (CAT) is an entrance exam conducted in India for admission into management programs. The exam pattern has evolved over the years, but here’s a general overview of the CAT exam pattern based on recent trends:  Join Our Courses


CAT usually consists of three sections:

  1. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)
  2. Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)
  3. Quantitative Ability (QA)

Number of Questions and Duration

  • Total Duration: 2 hours (120 minutes)
    • Each section is timed separately with 40 minutes allotted per section.
  • Total Questions: Around 66 questions in recent years, distributed approximately as follows:
    • VARC: 24 questions
    • DILR: 20 questions
    • QA: 22 questions


Question Types

  • Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs): These questions have four options, and candidates must select the correct one.
  • Non-MCQs (TITA: Type In The Answer): These questions do not have options. Candidates must type the answer.

Marking Scheme

  • Correct Answer: +3 marks
  • Incorrect Answer (MCQs): -1 mark (negative marking)
  • Incorrect Answer (Non-MCQs): No negative marking

Sectional Time Limit

  • Each section has a specific time limit of 40 minutes. Candidates cannot switch between sections during this time.

Exam Mode

  • Computer-Based Test (CBT): Conducted online in test centers across various cities.

Detailed Section-Wise Breakdown

  1. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)

    • Reading Comprehension (RC): Typically 4-5 passages with 3-5 questions each.
    • Verbal Ability (VA): Includes questions on para-jumbles, para-summary, and odd sentence out.
  2. Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)

    • Data Interpretation (DI): Involves analyzing data from charts, graphs, tables, etc.
    • Logical Reasoning (LR): Includes puzzles, seating arrangements, logical sequences, etc.
  3. Quantitative Ability (QA)

    • Covers a range of topics including arithmetic, algebra, geometry, number system, and modern mathematics.

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Preparation Tips

  • Practice Past Papers: Solving previous year papers helps understand the question pattern and difficulty level.
  • Mock Tests: Regularly taking mock tests helps in time management and identifying weak areas.
  • Sectional Preparation: Focus on improving speed and accuracy in each section through targeted practice.


  • Official CAT website provides previous year question papers and sample tests.


Are Questions in Quants Going to Change?

The pattern and types of questions in the Quantitative Ability (QA) section of the CAT exam can vary slightly from year to year, but the core topics and the nature of the questions generally remain consistent. Here are some key points regarding the Quantitative Ability section:   Join Our Courses

Core Topics in Quantitative Ability

  1. Arithmetic: Percentages, Profit and Loss, Interest (Simple and Compound), Ratio and Proportion, Time and Work, Time, Speed and Distance, Mixtures and Alligations.
  2. Algebra: Equations (Linear and Quadratic), Inequalities, Functions, Progressions (Arithmetic and Geometric), Logarithms.
  3. Geometry and Mensuration: Lines, Angles, Triangles, Circles, Polygons, Coordinate Geometry, Solids.
  4. Number System: Divisibility, Factors, Multiples, Prime Numbers, Remainders, LCM and HCF.
  5. Modern Mathematics: Permutations and Combinations, Probability, Set Theory.

Possible Changes in Question Types

  • Introduction of New Question Formats: While the core topics remain the same, the format in which questions are asked can change. For example, new types of logical puzzles or application-based questions can be introduced.
  • Variations in Difficulty Level: The difficulty level of questions can vary. Some years might see more challenging questions, while others might have relatively easier questions.
  • Shift in Focus: Occasionally, there might be a slight shift in focus towards certain topics based on recent trends in past papers.

Recent Trends and Expectations

  • TITA (Type In The Answer) Questions: There has been an increase in the number of non-MCQ questions, where candidates have to type in the answer. These questions do not have negative marking, encouraging precise answers without guesswork.
  • Application-Based Questions: There is a trend towards more application-based questions, which test the understanding of concepts rather than rote learning.
  • Balanced Distribution: The examiners aim for a balanced distribution of questions across various topics to ensure comprehensive testing of the candidate’s quantitative abilities.

Preparation Strategy

  1. Stay Updated: Regularly check the official CAT website and notifications for any updates or changes in the exam pattern.
  2. Practice Diverse Questions: Solve a variety of questions from each topic to be prepared for any format or difficulty level.
  3. Mock Tests: Take mock tests under timed conditions to improve speed and accuracy.
  4. Conceptual Clarity: Focus on understanding the fundamental concepts rather than just memorizing formulas.


While the specifics of the questions in the Quantitative Ability section may see minor changes in format or difficulty, the fundamental areas of testing remain consistent. Staying updated with the latest trends and practicing a broad range of questions will help in effectively tackling this section.

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Rahul Singh

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