Important Facts
Dec 11, 2023 1.2K Reads
Currently, more than aiming to clear the CAT, you have to focus on scoring high to enroll in top management institutions in India, i.e., IIMs. To do so, you need to be very clear about the examination pattern, marking scheme, & the minimum number of questions to attempt. Beyond all this, time management plays a vital role in making you achieve your goal of the 99 percentile.
As a CAT aspirant, you need to score such high percentile as the top IIMs like IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Kozhikode, IIM Bangalore, IIM Lucknow, IIM Calcutta, and others often release a cutoff list of more than or equal to 99 percentile. Thus, you must start preparing for your professional journey now by getting into these topmanagement institutions.



























































In this blog, we will be discussing the CAT exam pattern in detail with the marking scheme & the CAT normalization process. We will also impart light on the idea of minimum questions to attempt to score 99 percentile in this CAT attempt & the time that need to invest in each section for that. So, let's prepare your CAT 2023 strategy together!
A brief of all the details of the CAT 2023 exam is highlighted in the table below.
Mode of Exam 
Computerbased 
Duration 
120 minutes (40 minutes per section) 
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Total Number of Questions 
66 
Total Marks 
198 
Language Used in Exam 
English 
Type of Questions 
MCQ and nonMCQ 
Number of choices in MCQs 
4 
To understand the number of questions you must attempt for the 99 percentile, the first & foremost thing is to understand the pattern of the CAT exam. Let's start by discussing the different sections of this exam.
The total number of questions that the abovementioned sections have & their specified time limit is provided in the table below.
CAT Exam Sections 
No. of Questions 
Time Limit 
Time Limit for PwD Students 
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) 
24 
40 min 
53 min and 20 sec 
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) 
20 
40 min 
53 min and 20 sec 
Quantitative Aptitude (QA) 
22 
40 min 
53 min and 20 sec 
Total 
66 
120 min 
160 min 
Note: After the specified time limit, the screen will automatically move on to the next section. So, time management is quite important for a good CAT Score.
In competitive exams, getting good scores is not based on attempting all the questions but actually, it is based on focusing your time on the correct volume of questions. Moreover, if you are thinking of playing a hitandtrial trick in the exam, let me remind you of negative markings that can change your result entirely.
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If you need to understand the marking scheme thoroughly, you must check out the previous year's papers for your practice. However, here we have listed some key points to give you an idea of the CAT marking scheme.
A summary of the marking scheme is listed here.
Section 
Number of Questions 
Marks Per Question 
Negative Marks Per Question (Only MCQ) 
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) 
24 
3 
1 
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) 
20 
3 
1 
Quantitative Aptitude (QA) 
22 
3 
1 
Total 
66 
198 
 
CAT 2023 is your way to enter the top management institutions in India, IIMs. Although a low score can take away this opportunity from you, so, to make everything fall into place, you need to work both, smarter & harder! With a simple & sorted strategy of time management & minimum questions to attempt, you can score 99% in CAT 2023.
Here is the number of minimum questions that you must attempt if you aim to enroll in IIMs.
CAT Exam Sections 
Total No. of Questions 
Minimum No. of Questions to Attempt for 99% 
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) 
24 
18 
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) 
20 
13 
Quantitative Aptitude (QA) 
22 
16 
The minimum number of questions mentioned above can vary as per one’s opinion. The ultimate goal of this bifurcation is to achieve a high score which can be done in many ways. The only key for doing that is time management. In this last phase of preparation, manage your time & aim for a score of around 104 marks to get 99% in the CAT 2023 exam.
In terms of difficulty, CAT is thought to be one of the toughest competitive exams in India. However, in reality, it just demands more focus & sincerity. To make you understand the sectionwise difficulty level of this paper, an analysis of CAT 2022 is provided here.
CAT Exam Sections 
Total No. of Questions 
Topics Asked 
Type of Questions 
Level of Difficulty 
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) 
24 
Para Jumbles, Reading Comprehension, SentenceCompletion, Inferences ParaSummary 

Inbetween easy to moderate 
Quantitative Aptitude (QA) 
22 
Percentages, Simple InterestCompound Interest, Profit & Loss, Time & Distance, Numbers, Mensuration, Logarithms, AveragesMixturesAlligations, Functions & Graphs, Quadratic Equations, Indices & Surds, Special Equations, Statistics 
Arithmetic Questions: 89 Algebra Questions: 78 
Moderate 
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) 
20 
Tables, Data Caselets, Graphs, Blood Relation, Seating Arrangement and Syllogism, Venn Diagram 
4 sets of 5 questions 
Inbetween easy to moderate 
Overall Difficulty Level 
Moderate 
The pattern of the CAT exam keeps on changing with time. This change is done both in the structure & in the duration. Earlier the Data Interpretation (DI) section of the paper was clubbed with Quantitative Aptitude (QA) and in later years it got clubbed with Logical Reasoning (LR) which sets QA as an independent section.
A changing pattern of the CAT exam in the past 10 years can be seen in the table below.
CAT Exam Year 
Total No. of Questions 
Duration 
Sections 
2022 
66 
120 minutes 
QA, DILR, VARC 
2021 
66 
120 minutes 
QA, DILR, VARC 
2020 
76 
120 minutes 
QA, DILR, VARC 
2019 
100 
180 minutes 
QA, DILR, VARC 
2018 
100 
180 minutes 
QA, DILR, VARC 
2017 
100 
180 minutes 
QA, DILR, VARC 
2016 
100 
180 minutes 
QA, DILR, VARC 
2015 
100 
180 minutes 
QA, DILR, VARC 
2014 
100 
170 minutes 
QA & DI, LR & VARC 
2013 
60 
140 minutes 
QA & DI, LR & VARC 
Till 2019 CAT exam was conducted in 2 shifts with a total duration of 180 minutes but postpandemic (COVID19) the number of shifts increased to 3 with a duration of 120 minutes. This was done to follow the social distancing guidelines and is still there in 2023.
Since the exam is conducted in 3 different shifts, the difficulty level for all of them may vary at a certain level. Thus, to maintain a fair evaluation practice, the scores of all the candidates are scaled to a common plane using the CAT normalization formula. This normalization process is even followed in the GATE exam & is based on the assumption of similar abilities of candidates in all sessions.
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The normalization formula takes into account all the possible variations in the difficulty level of the CAT exam. Moreover, it imparts an impression that if a candidate has scored 95 percentile in the CAT, it means that he/she has performed better than 95% of the total candidates who appeared in the CAT exam that particular year.
The CAT exam is conducted in online mode, i.e., candidates need to answer all the questions on the computer. For each MCQ, you will have 4 options. After selecting the response for any question, candidates will get the following options:
After clicking on any of the above options, your attempted questions will be saved in different color formats.
After reading the above sections of this article, you must have developed an idea that cracking CAT not just requires your dedication & focus but a sorted time management strategy. Some of the points are discussed here that can help you improve your speed & accuracy in the CAT 2023 exam.
To acquire the 99 percentile in the CAT exam, you must score above 100 marks. For this, you need to attempt a minimum set of questions from each section.
If you have a focused mind & excellent aptitude, you can obtain 99 percentile in the CAT exam in just one month of preparation.
CAT is among the top MBA exams & the questions from the previous years do not get exactly repeated in it.
To score 99 percentile, you must attempt 18 questions from VARC, 13 from DILR, & 16 from QA sections each.
In the CAT exam, VARC has the maximum weightage. Within this section, reading comprehension holds the highest scoring possibility. Thus, you must emphasize this particular section to score high.
In CAT 2023, around 3.3 Lakh candidates have registered. Out of this, 1.17 are female candidates.
IIM Nagpur & IIM Indore release the lowest cutoff of CAT scores for MBA admission.
The CAT exam has a total score of 198 marks which are divided among 66 questions.
To score 99 percentile in the CAT exam, you need to be highly focused on your studies & have to manage your time to match the section limits. To do so, you can practice from previous year’s papers or mock tests.
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