What is the Format of the CAT?

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What is the format of the CAT? It’s a computer-based test, so practicing on a computer is a good idea. Photo by PIRO4D.

What is the format of the CAT? If you’re planning on taking the Common Admission Test (CAT) offered by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), learning about the test’s format is a great first step in your test preparation. By test format, we’re referring not only to how you’ll see the test (on a computer), but also to the types of questions (e.g. multiple-choice, essay, etc.) on the exam. In this post, we’ll also look at the exam’s overall pattern and form.

In brief, the CAT is a three-hour, computer-based exam. It tests verbal comprehension, data interpretation, logical reasoning, and quantitative ability. It is divided into three sections, lasting one hour each. The majority of these questions are multiple-choice, with either four or five possible answers. The remaining questions require you to fill in a number. On the verbal section, this will correlate to a possible answer choice, rather than representing a numerical value.

What is the Format of the CAT?

If you’re not familiar with computer-based tests, working through some questions on the official mock exam can help you become comfortable with the format in that sense. Otherwise, the organization of the CAT is relatively straightforward. The CAT takes three hours to complete. Test-takers have one hour per section for each of the following:

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

Each right answer is worth three points, regardless of the section or the format of the question. On the other hand, wrong answers on multiple-choice questions lose one point each. Wrong answers on non-multiple choice questions, and any unanswered multiple-choice questions, do not lose any points.

What is the Format of the CAT Questions?

Test-takers may wonder what non-multiple-choice questions look like in the Verbal and Reading Comprehension Section. After all, the CAT only allows for the input of numerical answers, not written answers.

First of all, the CAT Verbal section has two multiple-choice question types, passage-based questions and summary-based questions. Its non-multiple-choice question types take the form of ordering numbered sentences and identifying the numbered sentence in a paragraph that does not fit. Thus, test-takers enter the numbers of the sentences in the correct order, or enter the number of the odd sentence out. On the 2016 mock exam provided by the testmakers, these questions accounted for about one in five, or 20%, of the questions in the CAT Verbal section.

Non-multiple-choice questions were slightly more common in the Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning, and Quantitative Ability sections of the CAT. The format of the questions is more intuitive here, as students often provide numerical answers to non-multiple-choice math problems in their coursework.

What Next?

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the CAT test format, you can go forth and start learning about the particular question types you might encounter, plan your preparation for the exam, and even create your own CAT syllabus from which to study. Remember, the more you know about the test, the less intimidating it will seem, so keep looking around and coming back to the Magoosh blog to learn more about the CAT exam!

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