Common Admission Test (CAT) pattern in last 10 years

Common Admission Test (CAT), true to its dynamic nature, changed its pattern 6 times in last 11 years. At the core of these changes is the constant belief that budding managers should get prepared themselves to face any kind of situation. Irrespective of changes, you need not worry too much as all the exam goers will be facing the same confusion and dilemma and you should focus more on fundamentals to tide over any unexpected pattern. A snapshot of CAT pattern for last 11 years is as under:
 CAT pattern 11 years
The pattern had changed from having 30 questions each in Quantitative Ability (Quant) , Reasoning (Data Interpretation (DI) plus Logical Reasoning (LR)) and Verbal Ability sections to 25 and then to 20. Subsequently the number of sections had come down to 2 with questions in each section increased to 30 and then to 50. In last year CAT (i.e., CAT 2015) , the number of sections increased to previous figure of 3 with Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning got merged to single section. CAT introduced sectional time limit of 1 hour each and usage of calculator (digital one available in test computer).
What to make of the Change in pattern:
  1. The importance of each section was more or less same as was evident from the distribution of questions.
  2. The amount of time available for solving each question is directly proportional to the difficulty level of exam i.e., less time per question the paper is expected to be comparatively easier and vice-versa.
  3. Candidates should get accustomed to doing calculations manually and using calculators as IIMs may or may not allow utilization of calculators going forward.
  4. The pattern is getting moved to mix of multiple choice questions (MCQs) and fill in the blanks, so guess work and arriving at answers based on MCQs is getting outdated.
  5. Candidates should always take into consideration the available time per question in last 3 years and accordingly practice, during preparation, solving the questions within the average time limits.


  1. Thanks. Great analysis. The duration per minute column and its trend’s significance really helped me learn a thing about time management – gotta time my answers carefully, and keep them below a certain safe average time.

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