CAT Syllabus 2021 - Previous Years Question Papers PDF Download Here

CAT Syllabus 2021 - Previous Years Question Papers PDF Download Here

CAT Syllabus 2021: The IIM Ahmedabad does not officially release the CAT 2021 syllabus. However, based on previous years' CAT question paper, candidates can apprehend the syllabus of CAT 2021. The questions asked in the CAT paper have mostly been based on middle school math i.e. class 9 and 10 and English topics, the difference being varying in difficulty level (higher). CAT exam syllabus includes all CAT important topics of verbal ability & reading comprehension (VARC), data interpretation & logical reasoning (DILR), and quantitative aptitude (QA).

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CAT Syllabus 2021

The IIM CAT exam syllabus is very general and broad. Common Admission Test (CAT) is a computer-based test (CBT). The CAT 2021 syllabus gives us a good idea of how to prepare for the CAT entrance exam 2021. Before beginning the CAT exam preparation, candidates must know the CAT exam syllabus and paper pattern. This article talks about the section-wise syllabus of CAT 2021.

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CAT Syllabus 2021 - Overview

Before reviewing the comprehensive CAT exam subjects, it is important to get an overview of the important topics from each section asked in CAT 2021. Below is a table that outlines important topics from the CAT syllabus 2021 which the candidates must focus on.

On our Careers360 site, we also provide the CAT syllabus pdf format. By visiting the appropriate link, candidates can easily get the CAT 2021 syllabus and CAT exam pattern in pdf format. With the help of the CAT exam 2021 syllabus pdf, students can easily know the topics and sections which will be asked in the CAT exam.

CAT Syllabus PDF 2021

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The topics which are broadly covered under the IIM CAT exam syllabus 2021 topics are given below in detail.

CAT Topics


Major Topics

Sectional Time Duration

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)

  • Para-jumbles

  • Sentence completion

  • Inferences

  • Questions based on reading comprehension and etc

For General: 40 Minutes for each section

For PwD: 53 Minutes 20 Seconds for each section

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)

  • Graphs

  • Tables

  • Seating Arrangement

  • Syllogism

  • Blood Relation

  • Data Caselets and etc

Quantitative Aptitude (QA)

  • Time and Work

  • Geometry

  • Algebra

  • Mensuration

  • Number System

Each section has important topics that are part of the MBA CAT syllabus 2021. Following the syllabus of last year’s CAT, one can determine that the first section includes questions from VARC, followed by DILR, QA. Topics that are part of the syllabus of CAT typically come from students in school from class 9 to class 12.

Candidates can also download the CAT syllabus in pdf provided in this article to know what questions are asked on all the topics in each section. Candidates can get the CAT exam syllabus 2021 pdf download button by visiting the appropriate link.

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CAT Question Papers - Previous Year

MBA aspirants planning to appear in CAT 2021 can download the previous year's CAT paper, which will help them determine the current preparation level for the CAT exam.

CAT Previous Years Question Papers

Year-wise CAT question papersCAT question paper download link

Download CAT 2020 question paper PDF

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Download CAT 2020 slot 2 question paper

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CAT 2020 slot 1 question paper PDFDownload Here

Previous year CAT question paper PDF

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Download CAT 2019 question paper

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CAT 2018 question paper PDF

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Download CAT 2017 question paper

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CAT previous years question papers PDF

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CAT Exam Syllabus 2021 - Section Wise Topics

The section-wise topics that are part of the CAT exam syllabus 2021 will help candidates get an idea of how to prepare for the exam and which topic will consume maximum time. By conducting this exercise, the candidate will be able to clearly distinguish the topic in the syllabus of CAT 2021, which will help him/her identify their strengths, thus helping to determine their CAT 2021 exam strategy.

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CAT Syllabus 2021 - Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)

IIM CAT 2021 verbal ability syllabus and reading comprehension consist of all the sub-topics asked questions. The VARC section is the first section of the CAT paper and is to be solved first. Vocabulary testing methods have changed over the years, and now CAT usually asks the vocabulary question through readable comprehension passages so that students also have the opportunity to exclude the meaning of the word from the context.

Apart from this, synonyms and antonyms are frequently asked in other MBA entrance exams, due to which they should be prepared. Similarly, filling in the blanks, grammatical application, facts, assumptions and judgments, and correction in sentences are part of the CAT entrance exam syllabus 2021 as they were asked in the past, but they are no longer being tested even though they play a significant role in other MBA gateways.

Grammar or English Usage

Synonyms Antonyms (Vocabulary Based)

Fill in the blanks

Meaning/Usage Match

Jumbled Paragraph and Close Passage

Verbal Reasoning

Reading Comprehension

Analogies and Reverse Analogies

Summary Questions

Facts Inferences Judgments

Verbal Logic

One word substitution

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Verbal Ability in CAT Syllabus 2021

Over the past 3 to 4 years the Verbal Ability section in CAT 2021 syllabus has focused mainly on 3 types of questions:

  • Jumbled Paragraphs

  • Summary Questions

  • Odd sentences in Paragraph Jumbles.

The jumbled paragraph questions are from TITA, which means there is no margin for error.

  • Together they form a paragraph and the candidates must find the most appropriate order for the sentence group. In order to solve these types of questions.

  • In these types of questions, 4 to 5 sentences are out of order.

  • The first thing every candidate should do is identify the first and last sentence of the paragraph.

  • This is usually much easier because the first sentence introduces a topic, while the last sentence makes some sort of judgment or decision.

  • Following this, the second sentence should lead to the first one.

Summary questions are usually as follows:

  • Small passages with 4 options (around 80-100 words).

  • The goal is to find the best summary of the paragraph.

  • Usually, in these types of questions, it is important to find options that do not conflict with the passage in any way.

  • Once you have eliminated the other options, the correct answer will appear.

An odd sentence in paragraph jumps TITA questions for the last 3 to 4 years:

  • The purpose of this type of question is to identify the sentence that does not match the theme established in the remaining paragraph.

  • These questions can be easy or difficult depending on how they are presented.

  • For easy questions, the sentence will talk about something completely different from the theme of the rest of the paragraph.

  • On difficult questions, on the other hand, the sentence will be on the same topic as the rest of the paragraph but will differ slightly depending on the concept or theme presented.

  • It is also possible for a sentence to introduce a topic within an unrelated theme.

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Key points related to Verbal Ability for CAT 2021

  • The total number of questions asked is usually 8 to 10, and a similar weightage is given for this section.

  • As part of the syllabus of CAT 2021, in the Verbal Ability section, Non-MCQ questions will be asked.

  • Negative marking to any question was not answered incorrectly as most of the questions asked were of the non-MCQ type.

  • Going by past year trends and as per CAT exam syllabus in VA section usually, questions are asked from para-jumbles, error correction in a para, out of context sentence in para, and vocabulary.

The number of topics and expected questions in CAT Verbal Ability.


Number of questions expected



Sentence Completion & Correction


Odd Sentences


Others (Fill in the blanks, Vocabulary Based, etc.)


Reading Comprehension in CAT Syllabus 2021

As per the CAT 2021 syllabus, Reading Comprehension (RC) consists of questions based on the passages in the CAT exam. Questions are generally of three types: Inference-based, Fact-based, and Vocabulary-based. Vocabulary-based questions have already been discussed above.

Fact-based questions, as the name implies, demand answers based on the facts mentioned in the paragraph. They are usually the easiest questions in the section.

Assumption-based questions are a bit tricky because the candidates must reduce the tone and theme of the writer before answering these questions. In CAT 2019 and CAT 2020, these types of questions were very rare.

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Key points related to Reading Comprehension for CAT 2021

  • The total number of questions asked can do anything between 24-28.

  • Since the questions asked in this are multiple choices (MCQs), it will indicate negative marking.

  • In the Reading Comprehension section, there will be at least four long paragraphs and one short paragraph.

  • According to the course of the past years, the long comprehension passage will have at least 900 words and the short passage will have about 500-600 words.

  • Comprehension passages mainly revolve around topics such as politics, environment, literature, and society.

  • As per the CAT exam pattern, a negative marking of -1 mark is applicable for every incorrect answer.

The number of topics and expected questions in CAT Reading Comprehension

Total Number of Passages

Total Number of Questions

4 to 5 Passages

At least 24 questions

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

According to the detailed CAT exam syllabus 2021, there are two subdivisions which are (i) Data Interpretation (ii) Logical Rational. Candidates must complete this section within 40 minutes (53.20 minutes for PwD), without which they will not be allowed to proceed further.

DILR was a tricky section for candidates in CAT 2017 and CAT 2018, but the difficulty level was reduced in CAT 2019 and CAT 2020. One reason for this difficulty is the unpredictability of sections based on where the set can be taken. CAT 2021 syllabus for DILR section:

Topics covered under DI & LR

Bar Graphs and Column Graphs

Caselets and Tables

Venn Diagrams

Combination of two or more types linked to each other

Line Charts & Pie Chart

Calendars, Cubes and Clocks

Number and Letter Series

Binary Logic

Seating Arrangement


Matching/ Puzzles

Logical Sequence

Blood Relations



CAT Syllabus 2021 for Data Interpretation

From the CAT exam syllabus above, the Data Interpretation (DI) IIM CAT syllabus 2021 contains cassettes and tables. These cassettes contain data in the form of column charts, bar charts, Venn diagrams, lines, and pie charts. We need to understand this data to solve the questions in CAT Exam 2021.

To solve these questions, the data must be structured very intuitively so that the questions are solved. In some questions, there will be variables that should not be touched on as they may be presented in the questions. The only possible way to prepare for this DI section of the CAT exam 2021 is to solve as many problems as possible.

Key points related to Data Interpretation for CAT 2021

  • In the Data Interpretation, there are both multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and non-multiple-choice questions (MCQs).

  • MCQ and Non-MCQ are no standard numbers.

  • If the MCQ is answered incorrectly, there is a negative marking.

  • If the non-MCQ responds incorrectly, there is no negative mark.

CAT Syllabus 2021 for Logical Reasoning

Over the years the IIM CAT syllabus has included topics for logical reasoning such as arrangements, numbers and sequences, logical sequences, syllogisms, calendars, clocks and cubes, and blood relations. Questions are usually a combination of other topics. As can be seen, the number of topics for rationality is numerous and the combination can lead to very tricky compilations.

This may be one reason why CAT 2017 and CAT 2018 are considered difficult DILR sections. Reasoning topics can lead to more complex sets when linked to each other. The main concern in solving LR questions is not to solve them, but to solve them as quickly as possible. In this section, solving a certain number of questions with the utmost accuracy will suffice to get a good percentage in this section.

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Key points related to Logical Reasoning for CAT 2021

  • The total number of questions asked may be between 15 to 20.

  • For each incorrect answer, the negative will provide.

  • There are both MCQ and Non-MCQs questions for logical reasoning.

  • If the candidates answer wrongly for MCQs, then there is a negative marking.

  • No negative mark for Non-MCQs.

The number of topics and expected questions in CAT DILR Section


Total Number of Questions

Graph, Bar diagram


Tables & Charts


Graphs, Charts


Tables, Pie chart


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CAT Syllabus 2021 - Quantitative Aptitude (QA)

As part of the CAT 2021 syllabus for Quantitative Aptitude (QA), questions will be asked from arithmetic, mathematics, trigonometry, and algebra. Check out some topics from the syllabus of CAT 2021 for Quantitative Aptitude that will be asked questions.


Number Systems

Speed, Time & Distance


Profit, Loss & Discount

Time & Work


Simple & Compound Interest

Quadratic & Linear Equations

Complex Numbers

Ratio & Proportion


Sequences & Series

Probability, Permutation and Combination

Set Theory

Binomial Theorem

Surds & Indices


Functions & Geometry

Mixtures & Allegations


Coordinate Geometry & Mensuration

Partnership (Accounts)


The wide number of topics in the CAT syllabus 2021 means that it should be further broken down into manageable areas. Subdivisions in the QA syllabus of CAT 2021 include:


Commercial Maths

Alligations and Mixtures


Sequences and Series


  • Preparing commercial maths is reasonably easy because the number of questions is small and the formulas to be learned are very straightforward.

  • Arithmetic should also be very basic and easy to prepare. Most topics in arithmetic are class 10 and the only trick is to solve them as quickly as possible.

  • There are many rules in geometry and finding the most important geometric rules will allow the candidates to solve these problems as quickly as possible.

  • Trigonometry can be used in conjunction with other topics or tested in the CAT 2021 exam.

  • Sequence and Series is a topic that is occasionally tested in CAT and other MBA entrance exams. In practice, the questions on this topic can be easily solved.

  • Alligations and Mixtures are likely to be similar to the topic Sequence and Series in the sense that it is occasionally tested in CAT. It is fairly easy to solve questions of this type with the correct guidance.

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Key points related to Quantitative Aptitude for CAT 2021

  • A total of 26 questions will be asked in the Quantitative Aptitude section.

  • There are both MCQ and Non-MCQs questions in this section. 18 MCQs asked and 8 non-MCQs.

  • Candidates will lose marks if they respond incorrectly to MCQ. For Non-MCQ, there are no negative marks.

The number of topics and expected questions in CAT QA Section


Total Number of Questions

Arithmetic Questions


Geometry & Mensuration




Number System




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Best Books for CAT 2021 Preparation - VARC, DILR, and QA

There are a lot of books available for CAT Exam Preparation 2021. Also, Careers360 provides some best books for CAT 2021 along with CAT Syllabus 2021 pdf official website link. By visiting the appropriate link, the candidates can easily get the Common Admission Test syllabus and books. With the help of books and CAT 2020 question papers, and CAT sample paper the students can easily clear the exam and get MBA admission in IIMs. Here is the list of books mostly used by CAT toppers.

Name of the Book

Name of the Author

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)

The Pearson Guide to Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning (VARC)

Nishit Sinha

Word Power Made Easy

Norman Lewis

How to Prepare for the VARC for the CAT

Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay (Tata McGraw-Hill)

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)

Data Interpretation & Data Sufficiency

Ananta Ashisha

How to Prepare for DILR for CAT (Tata McGraw-Hill)

Arun Sharma

Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for the CAT

Nishit K. Sinha

Quantitative Aptitude (QA)

QA for CAT and Other MBA Entrance Exams

Trishna Knowledge Systems (Pearson)

How to Prepare for Data Interpretation for CAT

Arun Sharma

The Complete CAT Digest, by Tata McGraw-Hill

Arun Sharma

Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations

EAbhijit Guha (Tata McGraw-Hill)

Also read-

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CAT Exam Pattern 2021

Along with the CAT syllabus, candidates also need to be well aware of the CAT exam pattern prior to starting preparing for CAT 2021. Apart from the syllabus and CAT exam pattern, it is a must to keep note of the following points.

  • CAT exam will be held in online mode
  • Each question will carry 3 marks
  • Negative marking of -1 mark will be applicable for MCQs
  • As per recent TOI reports, the number of questions in CAT question paper are likely to reduce from 76 to 66-68. The official notice is to be out yet.
Section nameNumber of questions (likely)*
Quantitative Ability (QA)26
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)24
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)26

*- The number of questions are likely to change in CAT 2021.

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CAT 2020 Exam Analysis

In addition to the basic syllabus for preparing the CAT, it would be useful to look at the CAT 2020 exam to set a benchmark. The CAT Exam Pattern in CAT 2020 was not identical to CAT 2017 and CAT 2018. In CAT 2020, there were 3 sections and 26 questions in VARC, 24 in DILR, and 26 in QA.

The overall difficulty level of the two slots was almost identical. QA and DILR had less difficulty in CAT 2020 than CAT 2019, but VARC in CAT 2020 was tricky compared to CAT 2018 or CAT 2019. There were no new topics introduced by CAT in the CAT 2020 paper, i.e. the CAT syllabus 2021 remained unchanged.

However, CAT has a tendency to be complacent, which is why the CAT Exam Syllabus 2021 should not be taken for granted.

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