Common Admission Test [ CAT ]

By Srushit Pargat Last Updated: November 23rd, 2020

CAT (Common Admission Test) 2020- On 29th Novemeber 2020

Introduction to CAT 2020

Over the years, the prestigious Common Admission Test (CAT) has been the gateway to several IIMs and business schools across India. Every business school aspirant dream of one day cracking this national level exam and getting into their dream IIM/business school. Being the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has proven to be a struggle for many aspirants. Still, their preparation and efforts for this examination persist despite the hurdles, such as the prevailing pandemic.

Getting into one of the 20 IIMs or one of the 1200 business schools in India does not come easy with this examination. College students, working professionals, and even people looking to start a new venture work day and night in order to get through this high ranking exam and one day follow their passion.

Exam Name Common Admission Test (CAT) 
Exam Website
Exam Helpdesk No 1-800-209-0830 (Toll-Free)
Exam Fees Rs 2,000 (General category) Rs 1,000 (Reserved category)
Exam Frequency Once a year
Exam level National Level
Exam Purpose Admission into IIMs, SPJIMR, FMS, MDI, IMT, and over 1200 Business Schools in India
Conducting Body IIM
Conducting Institute IIM Indore
No. of Test Cities 156 cities across India
Course Offered MBA/PGDM
Number of Applications 2.30 lakh (In 2020)

Examination pattern, Time scheme, and Marking scheme

CAT is revered as a high-difficulty exam that consists of 3 parts, namely- Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Ability (QA).

These subjects get distributed among 100 MCQ (with four answer choices) and non-MCQ type questions, which are to be solved and answered in 2 hours, unlike the usual 3 hours. There will also be a sectional time limit of 40 minutes.

The total number of marks is 300. It has a negative marking scheme, which ends up being quite heavy on several applicants. For each correct response, the applicant will get awarded 3 marks, and for each incorrect answer, there shall be a deduction of (-1)1/3 mark. There is no negative marking for wrong non-MCQ response.

Exam Section No. of Questions
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC) 34
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) 32
Quantitative Ability (QA). 34
TOTAL- 100
Duration of Exam Previously 180 minutes.It has been altered to 120 minutes.
Sectional Time Limit Previously 60 minutes per section.Changed to 40 minutes per section.
Number of answer choices 4 choices
Type of Questions MCQs and Non-MCQs
Medium of Instruction English
Total Marks 300
Marking scheme Correct response awards 3 marks Incorrect MCQ response leads to deduction of 1 mark The incorrect non-MCQ response has no deduction

Changes in the CAT 2020 as compared to previous years

1)Previously, the examination was 180 minutes in total, with a sectional limit of 60 minutes. But, this has now been revised to 120 minutes with a sectional limit of 40 minutes.

2)This year also, there will be three sessions, as mentioned above. Previously there were three sessions, but this has now changed due to the current circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.

3)Previously, applicants could have chosen four preferences for the cities they would like their examination centre to be in. The preference list has been extended to six cities where the candidate would prefer to write the examination.

List of test cities for applicants to choose from:-

Port Blair Hamirpur Mumbai
Guntur Jammu Nashik
Nellore Bokaro Satara
Vijayawada Dhanbad Palghar
Kakinada Hazaribagh Ulhasnagar
Rajahmundry Jamshedpur Shillong
Visakhapatnam Ranchi Aizawl
Kurnool Belagavi (Belgaum) Kohima
Tirupathi Bengaluru Balasore
Vizianagaram Hubballi(Hubli) Cuttack
Itanagar Mysuru(Mysore) Sambalpur
Dibrugarh Kalaburagi(Gulbarga) Berhampur
Silchar Shivamogga(Shimoga) Dhenkanal
Guwahati Dharwad Bhubaneswar
Tezpur Mangaluru(Mangalore) Rourkela
Jorhat Udupi Puducherry
Aurangabad-Bihar Kannur Pathankot
Darbhanga Ernakulam Ludhiana
Arrah Kollam Amritsar
Muzaffarpur Kottayam Bhatinda
Bhagalpur Kozhikode Patiala
Patna Thrissur Jalandhar
Mohali Trivandrum Sangrur
Chandigarh Bhopal Ajmer
Bhilai Nagar Jabalpur Jaipur
Bilaspur Ujjain Sikar
Raipur Gwalior Alwar
Delhi Sagar Jodhpur
Faridabad Indore Udaipur
Gurugram Satna Bikaner
Ghaziabad Bhopal Kota
New Delhi Jabalpur Madurai
Greater Noida Ujjain Chennai
Noida Gwalior Salem
Meerut Sagar Trichy
Panaji Indore Coimbatore
Ahmedabad Satna Vellore
Mehsana Amravati Tirunelveli
Vadodara Jalgaon Hyderabad
Anand Nagpur Karimnagar
Rajkot Pune Warangal
Gandhinagar Solapur Allahabad
Surat Navi Mumbai Bareilly
Ambala Ahmednagar Kanpur
Hisar Kolhapur Muzaffarnagar
Karnal Nanded Agra
Kurushetra Raigad Gorakhpur
Panipat Thane Lucknow
Rohtak Vasai Varanasi
Shimla Aurangabad Aligarh
Jhansi Moradabad Dehradun
Haldwani Roorkee Asansol
Durgapur Bankura Burdwan
Kolkata Hooghly Kalyani

4)The general category's application fees were changed from Rs.1900 to RS.2000 for General category students and from Rs.950 to Rs.1000 for SC/ST/PWD candidates.

Applicant statistics

Around two lakh candidates appear for the CAT exam every year. This year the official website of CAT 2020 posted all the information regarding the application procedure and examination methods online on July 29th, and about 2.3 Lakh applications were received. The applications' count was lesser than the applications received in 2019, which was 2.4 lakh applications.

Eligibility criteria

To apply for the CAT exam, there is a set eligibility criterion that has to be met by the applicant.

  • The applicant must possess a master's degree from a recognized university or board (or) he or she must be on the verge of completing the final year of bachelor's degree or equivalent qualification.
  • The candidate must have attained a minimum aggregate of 50 per cent or CGPA equivalent.
  • The candidate must have completed a professional degree (ICWA/CA/CS) with the minimum required percentage.

Important Dates

CAT exam 2020 29-Nov-2020 To be held in 156 cities.
CAT answer key release To Be Announced To be downloaded from the official CAT website
Answer key challenge process To Be Announced Candidates can challenge official responses in online mode by paying Rs.1000 per question
CAT result 2020 declaration The second week of January 2021 Release of the scorecard will be on the official website by 9 AM.

Advantages of attempting CAT in the final year of Undergraduate

There are several advantages of trying the CAT exam in the last year of your undergraduate degree. Since students don't have a 9 to 5 job, they can utilize their free time to work towards the exam and not lose any income.

A graduate will have to take time aside as a gap year to prepare for the examination, whereas a student doesn't need to do so.

Another key benefit that students get is that they can gain work experience of up to 2-years after being admitted to a particular IIM, as IIMs permit these students to deter their admission before pursuing their PGP course. Approximately 10 per cent of seats are kept aside for those students who wish to work before starting their masters.

Slots and city allotment of conducting the CAT examination

After the application process completes, the applicants receive their required hall tickets and wait for the day they have been preparing for so hard. As discussed earlier, the CAT 2020 will get conducted by IIM Indore. It will be in CBT mode in 156 cities across India. It is scheduled to be conducted in three slots- morning, afternoon, and evening on November 29th, 2020. It is one of the changes brought in this year as there are now three sessions instead of the usual two sessions.

Sessions Reporting Time Time Slot Last Reporting Time
1st Morning Slot 7:00AM 8:30AM-10:30AM 8:15AM
2nd Afternoon Slot 11:00AM 12:30PM-2:30PM 12:15PM
3rd Evening Slot 3:00PM 4:30PM-6:30PM 4:15PM

Things to keep in mind after the completion of the CAT application

Once the application gets completed, the applicants will wait for the day they have been preparing for so long and go through the final tips and tricks of writing the CAT examination. Applicants can utilize the last few months to revise their strong topics, solve previous year CAT papers with a self-timer, increase their speed of solving questions, and give mock exams.

Preparation for CAT 2020

Experts say that one requires a minimum prep of 6 to 12-months for anyone who wants to secure a 99+ percentile in the CAT exam. However, it also depends on their ability and skills. Applicants should aim to complete the entire core syllabus by August and avoid stretching it ahead as the exam is at the end of November. Applicants will certainly need time to revise their subjects and work on other aspects required for the exam, such as speed-building and accuracy building.

Mistakes to avoid

Along with working towards their strategy for the exam, applicants should also watch out for simple mistakes that could cost them heavily. From carrying the right documents, reaching the examination centre on time, to avoiding calculation errors, all these are small things every applicant should keep in mind.

Considering the time limitation in mind, it is advisable that the applicant not spend more than a minute on each question and not rush through the questions as it could cause panic.

Skipping questions that require more time is smarter than playing a guessing game as the examination does have a negative marking scheme.

Cut-off percentiles for the top IIMs in India through CAT in 2019

Cut-off percentiles for General Category, as usual, is highest and is lower for the minority categories such as SC/ST/PWD. The overall cut-off percentiles and sectional cut-off percentiles are mentioned below-

Institute VARC DILR QA Overall
IIM Ahmedabad 70 70 70 80
IIM Calcutta ≥ 75 ≥ 80 ≥ 80 ≥ 85
IIM Bangalore 80 75 75 85
IIM Lucknow 85 85 85 90
IIM Indore 80 80 80 90

Rules and Regulations of CAT 2020

Candidates have been informed not to bring in any items that could lead to malpractice, such as watches, mobile phones, bags, electronic gadgets, wallets, or stationery items.

Candidates should also refrain from wearing or carrying any jewelry, shoes, and jackets.

There will be arrangements made for the candidates to leave their belongings before entering the examination rooms.

The candidate is supposed to arrive before the gates close and bring his CAT 2020 Admit Card and an acceptable government ID proof to enter the exam hall. Ensure that the candidate's photo and signature are printed clearly. Otherwise, the admit card will not be considered valid if the candidate's photograph or signature is not visible clearly.

An invigilator will assist the candidate once he/she has entered the examination room. Examination authorities provide the candidate with the required stationery for solving the examination problems. Return the given stationary to the hall invigilator after the completion of the exam.

It goes without saying, the students expect to be as cooperative as possible with the staff during frisking and other applicants inside the examination hall.

Confident for CAT 2020?

Regardless of how the situation is, the best strategy is to solve the questions you are sure will get correct. And as easy as it is to say, do not panic. Focus on solving the problems properly rather than the on-screen ticking timer. The fear of not performing well should not affect your performance during the examination. All your efforts will be fruitful if and only if you have your mind in control and remain calm and composed.

Brace for CAT 2021!

If you have missed out on the exam applications or even if you do not perform well this year in 2020, there is always another opportunity the next year. It does not mean the end of the world, and neither does it choose your worth. Your preparations will never go in vain. You can try for a CAT attempt in 2021.

All the best to all the aspirants from Collegemarg!

FAQs for CAT Exam 2020

1)Can edits be made on the CAT 2020 application form once the payment is complete?

-No changes apart from the modification in photo and signature are allowed on the application form once the application fee is paid.

2)Is there an age criterion for CAT 2020?

- There is no age bar for writing this particular exam.

3)What is the fee structure for CAT 2020?

-Rs.2000 for General Category applicants and Rs.1000 for SC/ST/PWD Category applicants.

4)Can I use an alternate email ID, say of a friend, to register for the examination?

-Candidates need to mention their own original valid email ID to register.

5)Can I choose my exam slot?

According to the candidate's city preference, the exam slot is allotted to the candidate, and he cannot select it as per his will.

6)Can I appear for the examination in more than one slot?

-No, one candidate can attempt the exam only once in one year. Hence, they cannot attempt more than a single slot.

7) What should I do if I do not receive my admit card?

-Contact the authorities well before time and look into your application procedure again.

8)When should the CAT admit card produced?

-Candidates need to produce the admit card to appear for the exam and get it printed well before the day of the exam. Candidates should affix their photograph and make sure their signature and photo are clear.

9) What password do I use to login to the portal?

-The SMS you have received is to be used. If the problem persists, then simply use your user ID, and the "forgot password" button shall be useful in the login process.

10)Can a candidate use any computer to give the CAT exam?

-One must undertake the examination from the allotted system only. Candidates cannot appear on any other system that has not been allotted to them.