How Long is the CAT?

how long is the cat-magoosh

How long is the CAT? Three hours and 180 questions. Image by Unsplash.

When asking “how long is the CAT?”, you’ll need to think in terms both of the duration of the exam in time and how many questions the exam contains. The Common Admissions Test (CAT) given by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) takes three hours to complete, and consists of 180 questions.

How Long is the CAT in Terms of Time?

There are three sections on the CAT:

  • Verbal and Reading Comprehension
  • Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning
  • Quantitative Ability

You have one hour to complete each section on the exam. The exam doesn’t allow you to skip ahead if you finish a section early, nor may you return to a previous section once time is up. Getting used to the pace of the exam is thus important as you prepare for the CAT. Leaving a few minutes at the end of the exam to check your work or return to difficult problems may make all the difference in the score.

Test-takers should also note that the testmaker does not schedule official breaks in the exam, so plan ahead! You may be in either a morning test session or an afternoon test session. Note, though, that you might not receive the placement of your choice, so if you’re prepping for the exam before you know which session you’ll be in, it’s a good idea to vary the time of day that you study. This way, you’ll be used to looking at CAT material at both times of day and won’t be unnecessarily groggy if placed in a session that may not be ideal for your schedule.

How Long is the CAT in Terms of Questions?

Although each section of the CAT takes one hour to complete, the number of questions varies by section:

  • Verbal and Reading Comprehension (34 questions)
  • Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (32 questions)
  • Quantitative Ability (34 questions)

In all three sections, you have slightly less than two minutes, on average, to answer each question. However, keep in mind that questions vary in difficulty. As you practice and prepare to take the CAT, you should keep notes on your progress on how long it takes to answer different kinds of questions. For many students, the non-multiple-choice questions in each section may take longer to answer than multiple-choice questions.

Using the Length of the CAT to Your Benefit

If you’re a particularly fast test-taker, you may find the inability to skip ahead to the next section to be frustrating. On the other hand, this format will force you to go back and check your work—which will boost your score. Similarly, if you have trouble answering the majority of questions on the exam in the given time period, practicing with the time pressure can help you identify which question types you can answer faster and which take more (and perhaps too much!) time to be worth answering on test day. In either case, the more you practice working with the exam pattern in the given time frame, the better you’ll be able to use the length of the CAT to your advantage.

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