CAT Syllabus 2021 (QA, VARC, DILR) – Download Free PDF of CAT Exam Syllabus

CAT Syllabus 2021 – Check here the CAT 2021 exam syllabus. Know the section wise topics from which questions will be asked in the Common Admission Test. These include topics from Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Ability (QA). Distribution of questions will be as per the exam pattern of CAT 2021. It is important to do well in all sections to grab a good percentile and get admission in the dream IIM or MBA college.

CAT 2021 Syllabus

The core syllabus of Common Admission Test (CAT) 2021 are the three sections of the exam. They are:

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

Besides informing the sections in the exam, the organizers do not provide section-wise topics.

Since the Indian Institutes of Management do not define section-wise topics as the syllabus for IIM CAT 2021 exam, aspirants find themselves in a bit of a soup as to what to study for the exam. However, a good starting point is an analysis of the topics repeated year after year in the exam. Thus, based on past year paper analysis some of the high yield topics have been identified for the next CAT 2021 exam.

Here is an indicative syllabus for IIM CAT 2021 for each section on that basis.

Click Here To Download CAT 2021 Syllabus PDF

Quantitative Ability (QA) CAT Exam Syllabus 2021

The QA section has questions on the following topics.

  1. Algebra
  2. Averages
  3. Binomial Theorem
  4. Co-ordinate Geometry
  5. Complex Numbers
  6. Geometry/Mensuration
  7. Inequalities
  8. Interest (Simple and Compound)
  9. LCM and HCF
  10. Linear Equations
  11. Logarithm
  12. Mixtures and Alligations
  13. Number System
  14. Percentages
  15. Permutation and Combination Probability Functions
  16. Profit and Loss
  17. Progressions
  18. Pure Math
  19. Quadratic Equations
  20. Ratio & Proportion
  21. Set Theory
  22. Speed, Time and Distance Time and Work
  23. Surds and Indices
  24. Trigonometry
  25. Venn diagrams

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC) CAT Exam Syllabus 2021

The VARC section has questions on the following topics.

  1. Assumption
  2. Bar charts – Simple, Stacked, Composite Bar charts
  3. Binary logic
  4. Blood Relation
  5. Calendars
  6. Caselets
  7. Clocks
  8. Conclusion
  9. Cubes
  10. Data Analysis
  11. Data comparison from Table
  12. Direction sense
  13. Graphs
  14. Input-Output
  15. Linear and matrix arrangement
  16. Logical Sequence
  17. Network Diagrams
  18. Pie charts
  19. Premise
  20. Puzzles
  21. Quantitative Reasoning
  22. Rows
  23. Seating Arrangement
  24. Series
  25. Set Theory
  26. Syllogism
  27. Team formation
  28. Venn Diagrams

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) CAT Exam Syllabus 2021

The DILR section has questions on the following topics.

  1. Analogies
  2. Assumption
  3. Completion of Paragraph
  4. Critical Reasoning
  5. Error Corrections
  6. Fill in the blanks
  7. Inferences, Statements, Arguments
  8. Jumbled paragraphs
  9. Main idea in the passage
  10. Odd sentence out of Jumbled paragraph
  11. Para Summary
  12. Phrasal meaning & Usage
  13. Sentence Completion
  14. Sequence of sentences
  15. Synonyms-antonyms
  16. Vocabulary usage

Recommended Books for CAT 2021 Preparation

CAT 2021 : 31 Years’ Topic-Wise & Year-Wise Solved Papers 1990-2020

Study Package for CAT, XAT & other MBA Entrance Exams with 10 Mock Tests

Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Nishit K Sinha

How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT by Arun Sharma

How to Prepare for DATA INTERPRETATION for CAT by Arun Sharma

How to Prepare for Logical Reasoning for CAT by Arun Sharma

Important Note:

It may be noted that the list of topics indicated here is non-exhaustive. Previous year question paper analysis reveals that the IIMs also ask tricky & unexpected questions. As such, it is recommended to study from a wide variety of textbooks, solved papers, previous year papers, mock tests, sample papers, question banks etc. to be prepared for the exam.

CAT Exam Pattern 2021

The CAT exam pattern witnessed significant change due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Compared to the earlier exam pattern, last year, the exam was conducted in three slots and for a total duration of 2 hours. Earlier, the exam was conducted for 180 minutes. In addition, the sectional duration was also reduced.

It is expected that the conducting IIM is going to announce the latest CAT 2021 exam pattern as per the CAT 2021 syllabus soon at the website Till then, candidates can check out the exam pattern of CAT as per the previous year exam below.

The key parameters of the CAT exam are as follows.

Exam ModeComputer Based Test
Duration2 hours or 3 hours
Sectional Timing40 minutes for each section or more if total time is changed
Number of SectionsThere are 03 sections:

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)
Quantitative Ability (QA)
Type of QuestionsMCQs & TITA
Marking Scheme+3 For Correct Answers (MCQs & TITA)
-1 For Incorrect Answers (MCQs only

The consistent part of the IIM CAT exam pattern are the sections. Other than that there could be changes in the exam duration, sectional timings, number of questions in each section, questions distribution between MCQs and TITA.

To help you have an idea of what could be the pattern, here is last year’s exam pattern:

SectionTotal No. of QsNo. of MCQsNo. of TITAs

The syllabus of the Common Admission Test for MBA admissions is largely based on the middle school Mathematics and English. However, the level of difficulty is much higher than that of the middle school level.

CAT 2021 Preparation Tips

The Common Admission Test is an entrance test of the highest competitive level. More than 2 lakh candidates reportedly register for the exam for admission to the limited seats in the IIMs based on their CAT score. It goes without saying that without a robust study strategy, it is almost impossible to crack the exam.

We have come up with some very important and useful study tips for the upcoming CAT exam considering suggestions from toppers and analysing the type and pattern of questions asked in the exam during the last few years or so.

Get here the Best Books For CAT 2021 Preparation 

Know The Syllabus

The most important action to take before commencing preparations for the CAT exam is to know the syllabus completely. Unfortunately, the IIMs do not predefine any specific syllabus for the exam. Check out the CAT 2021 Syllabus presented here based on the analysis of previous year question papers.

Identify Important Topics

Since there is no defined syllabus for the CAT exam, the list of topics may become non-exhaustive when referring to the syllabus of the exam. As such, candidates are suggested to analyse previous year papers and refer to important books for the exam to identify the high yield topics for the exam. This will narrow down the scope of important topics to cover for the exam.

Solve Mock Tests

It may be noted that the exam pattern of CAT was changed in the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, expectations are that the pattern is to be restored in the current year. Candidates preparing for the exam are therefore advised to solve plenty of mock tests on a regular basis to get acquainted with the paper. Solving mock tests can also have other benefits including the development of time management strategies and identifying high-scoring areas in the paper.

Refer to Previous Year Question Papers of CAT

Previous year question papers become indispensable study materials for the CAT exam since there is no predefined syllabus for the exam. Candidates must obtain the previous year papers of at least the last five to six years and refer to them for preparations. This is imperative to know what topics to study, check out level of difficulty, marks weightage of certain topics etc.

Practice Extensively

The CAT exam pattern indicates that the paper is divided into the sections of VRAC, DILR and QA. All of these topics are practice intensive. Topics like DI and Quantitative Aptitude are especially practice intensive and candidates are advised to practice such topics from diverse work books, question banks, solved papers, mock tests etc.

About CAT

Each year, one of the Indian Institutes of Management conducts the Common Admission Test. The examination is conducted for admission to the MBA program in the IIMs. Additionally, CAT score is also used for admission to PGP and Fellowship programs in management offered by the IIMs. Other listed non-IIM institutes also offer admission to the management programs on the basis of CAT score. One must be a graduate to appear in the CAT exam which is conducted at the national level. For more details refer to the official website

Common Admission Test is conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management for admission to MBA and other management programs. It is considered one of the toughest exams since the IIMs do not define any specific CAT syllabus. We have analysed the previous year question papers of the CAT exam and identified some of the high yield topics for the exam. CAT 2021 Syllabus presented here is based on the high yield topics of the exam which are common in every year’s exam. Candidates can prepare for the exam keeping in mind the CAT 2021 syllabus.

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