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CAT Syllabus 2021: Download CAT Syllabus PDF, Study Notes for VARC/ DILR/ QA, & Best Books

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Nikkil Visha

Exams Prep Master | Updated On - Nov 22, 2021

CAT Syllabus 2021 includes 3 major subjects i.e. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation, and Quantitative Aptitude. CAT Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension Syllabus will have topics like vocabulary, grammar, passage reading, etc.

  • On the other hand, CAT Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning Syllabus will have topics like puzzles on words, seating arrangement, etc. 
  • CAT Quantitative Aptitude Syllabus will judge the candidates based on topics like arithmetic, algebra, advanced mathematics, etc.
  • CAT 2021 aspiring candidates must note that CAT syllabus is not prescribed or released by the conducting IIM and also, the syllabus has not been changed in the past few years therefore candidates are advised to follow the previous years' trends to get an idea about CAT syllabus.
  • CAT Exam Pattern has been changed and candidates are advised to follow the updated pattern only. 
CAT Quantitative Aptitude

CAT Syllabus 2021: Quantitative Aptitude

  • Questions in QA are mostly based on topics from the Mathematics syllabus to class 10.
  • The QA section in CAT Exam is expected to have 27 MCQs and 7 Non-MCQs. 
  • This section focuses on numerical problems and will test a candidate’s mathematical knowledge.
  • It is a test of speed, accuracy, and precision.
  • Quants is a significant section with over 40% of the questions asked from this section. Check Quantitative Aptitude Preparation Tips
CAT Syllabus for Quants Sub-Topics
Arithmetic Number System, HCF, LCM, Ratio & Proportion, Simplification, Percentage, Average, Age Calculation, Time & Work, Distance
Algebra Theory of Equations, Quadratic Equation, Permutation & Combination, Sequence & Series
Geometry Angles, Lines, Triangles, Circles
Mensuration Areas and Volumes- Rectangle, Squares, Triangle, Circles, Cubes, Cones, Spheres, Pipes and Cistern
Calculus Maxima and Minima, Function
Trigonometry Trigonometric Ratios, Heights and Distances

Important topics for CAT Quantitative Aptitude 

  • There are a total of 26 questions from the aptitude section.
  • Arithmetic holds the most weight out of all of the topics. In fact, arithmetic ranks second after reading comprehension in terms of weightage in the CAT 2021 exam. Most of the questions in a quant section are from general topics like profit & loss, number system, geometry, etc. 
  • As per the graphs, it is evident that ‘arithmetic’ holds the most weightage, followed by ‘modern math’. Modern math consists of topics like Logarithm, Progression, Set theory, Permutation & combination, Functions, etc. There were a total of 12 TITA (Type in the answer) questions in both the CAT 2018 slots.
  • Our recommendation would be to focus on geometry, algebra, modern math and most importantly arithmetic. These topics carry maximum weightage in the quantitative section. 

CAT Quantitative Aptitude Study Material

CAT Quant Paper Analysis

Topic No of Questions (MCQ/non-MCQ)
CAT 2020 CAT 2019
Number System 5 14
Algebra 8 11
Arithmetic 10 6
Modern Math - 2
Geometry & Mensuration 3 1


CAT Syllabus 2021: Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

  • This section will focus on two aspects- Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning.
  • DI will have both MCQ and Non-MCQ questions.
  • Questions from Data Interpretation focus on a candidate’s ability to derive conclusions from a given set of data.
  • Logical Reasoning (LR) section tests a candidate’s logical thinking and its application to everyday problems.
  • LR questions can be individual or be in a set of 4 or more questions.
  • The DILR section is expected to see 24 MCQs and only 8 Non-MCQs. Check DILR Preparation Tips
CAT Syllabus for Data Interpretation CAT Syllabus for Logical Reasoning
Bar Graph Line Graph Arrangements Prepositions
Pie Chart Tables Data Arrangement Puzzles
Caselets Combination of Graphs Assumptions Statements
Data Sufficiency Games and Tournaments Clock and Calendars Venn Diagram
- - Logical Matching Logical Connectives

Important Topics in CAT DILR

  • Generally, the DILR section has 4 sets, each of Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation.
  • But last year, there were 3 sets from DI and 4 from LR, while one set was a combination of both DI and LR. So from this particular section, expect surprises this year as well. This particular section has been the decider for the last three years and the level of difficulty is also on the rise.
  • The DI section which has 3-4 sets can be further divided into ‘Reasoning Based Questions' or ‘Calculation Based Questions’.
  • Questions from arrangement sets have been more prominent over recent years even though there is no dedicated weightage or topic preferences. So it is advisable to practice as much as you can, especially CAT previous years’ question paper.

CAT DILR Study Material

CAT Syllabus Analysis for DILR

Topic No of Questions (MCQ/non-MCQ)
CAT 2020
People & Area 6
People & Area 4
Venn Diagram 4
Vials & People 4
Orders 4


CAT Syllabus 2021: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension 

  • The VARC section tests a candidate’s language and comprehension skills.
  • The comprehension questions will test the ability of the candidate to comprehend the meaning of a given passage.
  • Questions from the Reading Comprehension passage can be true/false statements based on the passage, the Author's point of view on the issues raised in the passage, Inference from the passage, the central idea of the passage, and its purpose.
  • The questions in the RC part will be objective.
  • Verbal Ability questions will mostly be Non-MCQs.
  • This year, 24 MCQs and 10 Non-MCQs are expected in the paper. 
  • Generally, 70% of VARC questions come from Reading Comprehension. Check CAT VARC Preparation Tips
CAT Syllabus for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
Critical Reasoning Grammar and Usage
Sentence Correction Word Usage
Fill in the Blanks Para Jumble
Para Completion Idioms
Para Summary -

Important Topics in CAT VARC

  • As per the last exam update, the verbal section was combined with reading comprehension to form a section now known as ‘VARC’.
  • Under the verbal ability sub-topic, questions from sentence correction, grammar, vocabulary, or fill in the blanks have not appeared in the last three years in the CAT 2021.
  • So it’s not worthwhile to dedicate extensive time to these topics. Instead, questions from the para jumble topic have become an integral part from the verbal ability section. The difficulty of para jumbles has also been moderate in the past few years.

CAT VARC Study Material

CAT VARC Paper Analysis

VARC 2020 2018 2017 2016
Topics Both Slot 1 Slot 2 Slot 1 Slot 2 Slot 1 Slot 2
RC 18 24 24 24 24 24 24
Para Jumbles 3+2 4 4 4 (TITA) 4 (TITA) 4 (TITA) 4 (TITA)
Out of Context - 3 (TITA) 3 (TITA) 3 (TITA) 3 (TITA) 3 (TITA) 3 (TITA)
Summary 3 3 (TITA) 3 (TITA) 3 (TITA) 3 (TITA) 3 (TITA) 3 (TITA)
Total 26 34 34 34 34 34 34

CAT 2021 Answer Key

  • CAT 2021 Answer Key is expected in the 1st week of December 2021 along with a response sheet.
  • First of all, the provisional answer key will be issued to candidates based on which they can raise objections against the answer key. 
  • Candidates can also CAT 2021 Answer Key to calculate raw scores which can be used to predict the list of colleges accepting that score. 

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CAT Books

Best Books for CAT 2021 Preparation

Since CAT is the most recognized management entrance exam in the country, there is no shortage of available sources for preparation in the market. Here are some suggested books for accurate CAT Preparation:

Preparation Books for CAT Quantitative Ability Section 

Books for CAT Author Name/Publisher ISBN Number
How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT Arun Sharma 9352602242
Quantitative Aptitude Quantum CAT Common Admission Tests for Admission into IIMs Sarvesh K. Verma 9311123870
Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT Nishit K. Sinha 9332570019

Preparation Books for CAT Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning

Books for CAT Author Name/Publisher ISBN Number
CAT 2021 Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning Gautam Puri 9386309475
Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for the CAT Nishit K. Sinha 933257121X
Data Interpretation & Data Sufficiency Ananta Ashisha 9352039246
How to Prepare for Data Interpretation for CAT Arun Sharma 9352602250

Preparation Books for CAT Verbal and Reading Comprehension

Books for CAT Exam Author Name/ Publisher ISBN Number
How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay/Arihant 9352602269
30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary Mass Market Paperback Wilfred Funk & Norman Lewis/ Simon & Schuster 067174349X
How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT Sharma and Upadhyay 9339222695
PSC for VA for CAT Nishit Sinha 9332570027

Check Best Books for CAT Preparation 2021

Mantra for Final Year Students to Cover CAT Syllabus

Rigorous preparation and dedication are required before appearing for CAT. Eligibility criteria allow candidates even appearing in their final year of graduation to sit for the exam. It is observed that such candidates have a certain advantage in terms of preparing

  1. Advantage in Preparation as Syllabus is Similar

Preparing alongside graduation is an advantage keeping in mind that there are certain similarities between the course syllabus and CAT syllabus. Candidates pursuing Btech, BSc, and BCom can step up their game as some subjects in their course have similarities with the Quantitative Aptitude section of CAT.

Aspirants doing graduation from the Humanities stream have an advantage in English and language which has similarities with CAT VALR syllabus.

  1. Advantage in Attending Coaching

Unlike working professionals, college students have the capacity to attend coaching classes. Alongside regular classes sparing time for coaching is possible if done in the right way as they are not bound in a 9 to 5 schedule. Though it should be kept in mind that going for coachings to prepare is not necessary for all candidates but it helps in scheduling and streamlining preparation. 

  1. Chances of Selection without a Gap Year

The ideal preparation time for CAT is around 9 to 12 months. If candidates in their graduation speed up their preparation at the right time there are chances they do not have to take a gap year and get selected in one go. 

  1. Less Loss of Resources

Candidates should keep in mind that while studying there is no loss of income as compared to professionals who generally quit their job to prepare for CAT. An undergraduate student does not have to toil in such situations and prepare to their full capacity without a worry about income or resources. In fact, resources can be extracted from college libraries and digital resources as well. 

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CAT Syllabus FAQs

CAT 2021 Syllabus FAQs

Ques. Along with Para jumbles, what other important topics can I prepare for the English section of CAT syllabus?

Ans. The important topics for CAT English section are as follows:

  • Fact inference Judgement
  • Grammar
  • Para completion
  • Sentence correction
  • Word usage

Ques. I have done a lot of mock preparation for the CAT RC section. I can see that I lose marks in this section. Generally, a difference of perception can be observed in the answers. How can I bridge this gap?

Ans. This is a common complaint by most of the candidates who write the RC section. The problem comes because we end up creating our perceptions while solving the problems. While attempting the RC section, keep this tip in mind: “Identify general idea and purpose of the passage in the author’s perspective.”

Ques. Can I score well in CAT 2021 with self-preparation?

Ans. Yes, you can score well in CAT with self-study provided you have been dedicated and focused in terms of your preparation. Find accurate study resources and stick to limited books. Take mock tests regularly and analyze your performance in every section. On the basis of your strengths and weaknesses formulate your own strategies to ace the exam.

Ques. If I am new to computer education, can I still compete equally well with the other participants? My computer speed is slow.

Ans. Yes as the exam pattern got changed a few years back, students must prepare for online mode. So to boost your speed, do practice CAT mock papers in online mode.

Ques. Can I leave Mixture and alligations while preparing for the exam? The topic questions are complicated and complex.

Ans. It is advised not to leave any topic from the CAT syllabus as there is no fixed weightage. Quant section of CAT is seen as unpredictable, therefore a safer move will be to cover all the topics.

Ques. If I attempt 15 questions from each section of DI, QA, and RC, then what are my chances of qualifying the exam?

Ans. This depends entirely on the difficulty level and the minimum cut off defined for each section. But as the percentile is high, we would suggest that attempt at least 30 questions in each section correctly.

Ques. I am writing CAT 2021, and I have worked with all the NCERT Mathematics books up to class 12. Can I clear the exam?

Ans. Mathematics or quant syllabus is generic. It all depends on the difficulty level of the exam and the CAT syllabus. Kindly refer to RS Aggarwal book or Arihant CAT books to gain more clarity.

Ques. Are marks deducted for spelling errors in the non- MCQ type of questions?

Ans. There is no marking scheme defined clearly for the Non- MCQ type of questions. So, no details can be given about the marks deduction for the spelling errors.

Ques. I am weak in the quants section. What are the top 5 topics that can help me qualify for the exam?

Ans. The top 5 CAT quant topics for preparation are as follows:

  1. Numeric system
  2. Arithmetic
  3. Geometry
  4. Permutation and combination
  5. Set theory

Ques. I have completed my graduation from a Hindi medium college. I am not good at English. Can I give the exam in regional language or Hindi?

Ans. No, the exam is conducted in English medium only.

Ques. I am a PWD category candidate. Do I have a different CAT exam syllabus as I have a physical health issue?

Ans. No, the syllabus is the same for all the candidates irrespective of the category details.

Ques. I am not sure about the questions in Vocabulary. How can I improve my vocabulary?

Ans. Start reading newspapers and Novels daily this will help you in increasing your vocabulary.

Ques. How can I improve my performance in CAT in a limited time?

Ans. The best way to analyze your performance is to do 1 or 2 mock tests each day for a week. Before this, do a brush-up of all the topics and then see your weak areas and strong areas. After identifying these areas, do the preparation.

Ques. As only 6 months are left in the CAT 2021, I want to do my best in the QA section. How many days do I have to allot to each topic in the QA section?

Ans. There is a 50-day plan for completing all the topics of the QA section in detail. Just stick to it to do well in the QA section.

Topics Days
Mensuration 3
Trigonometry 3
Coordinate Geometry 3
Geometry 5
Set theory 3
Functions 4
Probability 4
Permutation and combination 5
Surds and indices 2
Progression (sequence and series) 4
Logarithm 3
Quadratic and higher-order equations 4
Linear equations 3
Ratio and proportion 3
Allegation 2
Time and work 3
Speed, Time, and Distance 4
Interest (compound and simple) 3
Profit, loss, and Discount 3
Percentages 3
Averages 3
Number system 5

Ques. I am looking for some online apps that I can use for my CAT preparation?

Ans. Following are some apps that can be used for CAT Preparation:

App name Rating Daily Tip Useful for
MBA test prep 4.3/5 Word List, Question of the Day, Tip of the Day, Puzzle of the Week, News, Announcements CAT, NMAT, XAT, SNAP
TCY Exam pre 4/ 5 Challenge zone problems created every day for a problem-solving CAT, XAT, NMAT, and IIFT
MBA: NMAT CAT IIFT AIMA MAT 3/5 More than 3000 problems on all the sections of CAT Other useful exams are CAT, XAT, CMAT, IIFT, and NMAT
MBA- CAT/ CMAT preparation 3.5/5 There are separate headers for each of the sections in CAT The app does a high-quality analysis of the performance; the detailed report can be thus figured out by the use of the app.

Ques. What is a stress test for the RC section? 

Ans. A stress test is designed to check your ability to comprehend the data defined in the paragraph. There are 5 comprehensions that a candidate is expected to complete in 35 minutes duration. Also, evaluation is done for identifying how many questions are attempted correctly.

Ques. How many questions can come on polity and economics in the VARC section in the CAT exam?

Ans. There are no direct questions that can come from the Economy and polity section.

Ques. I am working on the CAT VARC syllabus. I have worked for 30 days but still could not complete the syllabus. Can I get some schedule to complete the QA section?

Ans. The QA section syllabus is as follows:

Topics Days
English usage or Grammar 5
Sentence correction 5
Fill in the blanks 5
Verbal reasoning 4
Reading comprehension 15
Jumbled paragraph 10
 Odd sentence 10
Summary questions 10
Facts/ inference/ judgements 4
Para completion 10

Ques. There are plenty of books on the market for preparing DI section. I am confused about the quality and rating. Which book to buy?

Ans. This is good that you understand the importance of preparing from a single source. You can buy any of the books from the list given below:

  • CAT 2021 Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning- Gautam Puri
  • Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for the CAT- Nishit K. Sinha
  • Data Interpretation & Data Sufficiency- Ananta Ashisha
  • How to Prepare for Data Interpretation for CAT- Arun Sharma

Ques. I have prepared for the XAT exam, can the same books be used for preparing CAT syllabus?

Ans. Yes, mostly the same books can be used for preparing CAT syllabus.

Ques. What is the percentage weight for the MCQ and non- MCQ topics in the CAT syllabus?

Ans. There is no clear definition of the MCQ and non- MCQ syllabus defined by the CAT authorities in the QA section. So prepare all sections equally well.

Ques. If I want to excel in the Data interpretation section, what is the preparation strategy that I can follow? Am I confused about finding a good strategy?

Ans. A strategy that works for you is the best strategy, but one way to prepare is that you can work with ARUN SHARMA book on Data interpretation as it has an excellent representation of every part singly and logically. The mock papers by Pagal guy and money control are the best to work.

Ques. Does the book Arun Sharma cover all the essential topics for the section of Logical Reasoning or multiple books are to be referred?

Ans. The ARUN SHARMA AND NISHIT SINHA books are sufficient for logical reasoning. The mock papers and notes from HANDA KA FUNDA website are sufficient, which provide immense simple well defining graphic charts and formulas.

Ques. Do the coaching classes cover the entire syllabus defined by the CAT exam authorities or some part is left for self-study. Also, can you give me the names of some excellent coaching institutes in Delhi?

Ans. Well, coaching institutes cover the entire syllabus defined by the CAT exam authorities. When looking for some coaching, you can refer to the following details:

Rank Name of Coaching Center Location Rating
1 PT Education New Delhi 4.2
2 T.I.M.E. Connaught Place, New Delhi 3.8
3 Career Launcher Kingsway Camp, New Delhi 3.7
4 IMS Learning Resources Connaught Place, New Delhi 3.2

Ques. I have heard that there is a change in the exam pattern of the QA section. Now there is a 50:50 weightage of both the MCQ and non- MCQ type of questions. Is it true?

Ans. No, it is not valid. As per the exam pattern, only 8 questions will be non- MCQ type rest of the questions will be MCQ type.

Ques. If I apply for a 90-day study plan, what are my chances of getting selected in CAT 2021?

Ans. Well, a 90-day study plan, if followed precisely, will ensure that your study would be completed within time. But your dedication and commitment will make all the difference.

Ques. Can you give me a list of all the topics that are added to CAT 2021 syllabus over CAT 2020 syllabus?

Ans. Well, there are no additions that are officially announced in the CAT 2021 syllabus. 

Ques. Is switching between the sections allowed in CAT?

Ans. No, switching between the sections is not allowed in CAT. Therefore, one should complete a particular section in the allotted time, as candidates can’t return to the section to make changes.

*The article might have information for the previous academic years, which will be updated soon subject to the notification issued by the University/College.


Please give me idea for preparing cat how to crack this paper and get a better college
When will the notification come in entrance exam for Ph.D in engineering?
I want start preparation for CAT .can you tell me which book are better for preparation of CAT exam?

Hi Rashmi, you may check some of the books mentioned below to gear up your preparation for CAT exam:

  • It is advised to go through the NCERT books from class 10th to 12th to strengthen your basics.
  • For Quantitative aptitude, you can refer to “How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT” by Arun Sharma, Publisher- Tata Mcgraw Hill.
  • For LR section, you can refer “Pearson Guide to Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning for CAT” by Nishit Sinha, Publisher- Pearson.
  • For verbal and RC, candidates may start preparing from “Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension” by Ajay Singh, Publisher – Arihant.

For further details, you may check Preparation Tips and Recommended Books for CAT exam from here.

Books and Notes for CAT Exam Preparation and Guidance for that

Hi Mahesh, you can get an idea on how to prepare for this exam by referring to this link: CAT Preparation Tips

Can i find coaching center in kolkata for cat?
Provide me information for cat information
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Hi Shivmona, to catch full details such as important dates, syllabus and preparation tips on CAT exam, please fins the link

Sir i hav conflict regard maa academics profile ,i hav done, matriculate n denn diploma in E n C And got lateral entry admission to BCA but in application dey hav mentioned only 12 th score so how shld i fill the application form sir ,i need take MBA plz help out
Hi Sunil, You can contact on the given number, 1800-209-0830.

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