Subjects in the CAT Exam

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Subjects in CAT exam fall into three main categories. Photo by Hermann.

If you’re just starting to study for the Common Admission Test (CAT), you might feel overwhelmed by all the subjects in the CAT exam. But don’t worry! We’re here to break it down for you.

First things first. Based on the 2016 exam, we can look at the subjects in the CAT exam as falling into three larger categories:

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

Within each of those categories, you’ll find different question types. By familiarizing yourself with them now, you can then go on to create a syllabus for the exam that will help you maximize your score.  We’ll take the subjects in the order you’ll see them on the exam, beginning with…

Subjects in CAT Exam: Verbal and Reading Comprehension

Based on past exams, you can expect to find several distinct categories of questions in the Verbal and Reading Comprehension section. A large chunk of this section is given over to reading comprehension. This gives you a chance to exercise your skills at understanding longer and complex texts. Verbal Reasoning questions will then ask you to analyze the content and form of passages. Sometimes this happens in unexpected forms. On the 2016 mock exam, the testmaker showed examples of the following question types.

  • Passage-based questions (8 passages with 3 questions each for a total of 24 questions)
  • Summary-based questions (3 questions)
  • Ordering sentences (4 questions)
  • Odd-sentence out (3 questions)

These last few question types are a great example of why it’s so important to take practice tests before your official test day. You might be familiar with passage-based questions from school or other exams. But it’s rare to have encountered questions in which you’re asked to put sentences in order, or to find the sentence that doesn’t belong.

Subjects in CAT Exam: Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

On the CAT, the Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning section divides up, well, logically! There are 16 questions about data interpretation and 16 questions about logical reasoning. In terms of data interpretation, you can expect to see charts or graphs of all kinds: line, bar, pie. These may appear singly or in combination with tables or other stimuli. Logical reasoning questions primarily appear as word problems. However, they can also involve combining word problems with any of the above data forms.

As with Verbal and Reading Comprehension, you may already be familiar with the content tested in this section. Still, the form of the problems may be new to you. Just remember that practice makes perfect!

Subjects in CAT Exam: Quantitative Ability

At first glance, the Quantitative Ability section of the CAT may seem widely varied in the subjects it tests. Looking over the questions, the progression from fractions to profit and loss to circles and triangles to exponents (etc…) may provoke some fear. But there is a pattern in there! Actually, as David describes excellently, the varied subjects in the quantitative section all fall within five categories. These include arithmetic, algebra, geometry, modern math (including set theory, polynomials, probability, progressions, and permutations/combinations), and number systems (e.g. integers, primes, exponents).

Subjects in CAT Exam: A Last Look

The number of CAT test subjects can feel vast at first, but there’s a logical and standard pattern to this, well, standardized test. As you move forward with your CAT studies, just remember that first identifying the type of question you’re looking at is the key to solving it. So today, by learning about the subjects in the CAT exam, you’ve taken the first step to getting the higher scores that you want!

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