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All About CAT(CAT- Common Admission Test)

As Swami Vivekananda rightly said “All the Power is Within YOU. You can do anything!” If you’re reading this, it means you believe in that power within you to achieve a dream as big as the mighty CAT! Even if thoughts tell you its too big, its too hard, there’s no way; there’s always a tiny voice within that says yes you can and you will! So go for it. All you have to do is take the first step and keep going forward. So now that you’ve taken that first step, its time for the next. It’s time to understand what CAT really is and everything else that comes with it.

First thing first, CAT is the ultimate gateway to securing admissions in India’s most prestigious management institutes namely the IIMs (Indian Institute of Management). If you’re a management student or an MBA aspirant, you must be familiar with them by now. But it’s not just the IIMs! That’s the beauty of CAT. CAT is one of the most prestigious national level examinations in the country and many other top B-schools along with the IIMs consider CAT scores for their admission processes. In short, nailing the CAT will open doors to numerous incredible opportunities! So if you’re an MBA aspirant, CAT is probably the most sought after and profitable exam to go for! Of course, with incredible opportunities comes incredible challenges to conquer! CAT opens doors to the top Bschools in the country because only the most well prepared and “MBA ready” candidates can make it through!

CAT stands for ‘Common Admission Test’ and is one of the most popular and challenging management entrance tests in the country among others like XAT, SNAP, NMAT, etc. This blog is specifically designed to give you every piece of information you might need as someone that aspires to make it to India’s Top B-schools like the Indian Institute of Management (IIMs), XLRI, FMS, ISB, SPJIMR and more. To give you a clear idea of everything that you’ll get to learn through this blog, we present to you the list of contents down below:

1.    What is CAT?
2.    Why is CAT important? 
3.    CAT- Stages of Elimination & Selection 
4.    CAT- Eligibility Criteria
5.    CAT- Important Dates 
6.    CAT- Exam Registration & Fee Structure
7.    CAT- Paper Pattern
8.    CAT- Syllabus

APEX, being a CAT Coaching Institute, values your time and understand the importance of every second and hence will ensure that this blog contains no unnecessary jargon. You’ll be provided with every necessary piece of information about CAT in the simplest of terms to ensure proper understanding on your part. If you still have doubts please feel free to reach out to us through our contact information available on our website. Without further ado, let’s get into each of the eight areas mentioned above, in detail. 
1.    WHAT IS CAT?
CAT stands for Common Admission Test. It is the most prestigious, sought-after and challenging management entrance exam in the country which acts as an entry ticket to some of the most prestigious B-schools in India, mainly the Indian Institute of Management (IIMs). It is aso accepted by numerous non-IIM Top B-schools like SPJIMR, ISB, FMS Delhi, MDI Gurgaon and more! CAT scores are widely accepted by multiple B-schools in the country across all tiers; however, if you aspire to pursue your MBA from the IIMs (Indian Indtitute of Management), which is almost every management aspirants dream, CAT is the only way to go!

But, aspirants should know that CAT just the first step of the entire admission process. Acing the CAT does not automatically secure you an admission into the IIMs. You must be able to succeed in the next stage of the selection process as well which is usually called the GDPIWAT process that stands for Group Discussion, Personal Interview and Written Ability Test.

CAT is a Computer Based Test (CBT) held across multiple cities in India and is conducted by the Indian Institute of Management (IIMs) every year on a rotational basis. IIM Lucknow was the conducting body for CAT 2023. CAT 2024 is expected to be conducted by IIM Calcutta and IIM Kozhikode will most likely take up the onus for CAT 2025. It is important to note that CAT is usually conducted on the last Sunday of November. This will help you plan and allocate your time for preparation, wisely.

2.    WHY IS CAT IMPORTANT? 
The answer is simple. You deserve a good life. You deserve a job that makes you work hard and deliver your full potential, sure, but that also pays/rewards you well for it. Whether you secure a good job or not, one thing that remains the same is that you will have to work hard to earn your bread and butter, so you might as well do so for a job that pays you well in return. Not just your pay scale. Other factors like work environment, job security, company benefits etc will play a major role for a major part of your life until you retire. Hence, the importance of securing a good job with a great payscale at a great company is absolutely non negotiable! It’s time you realise that and sink it in.

Now to get a good job at a great company you must prove your worth! How do you do that? By securing your position in a Top B-school! Of course, that doesn’t mean it's the end of the world, if you don’t. You can still make it in life but that would require you to struggle relatively harder to secure opportunities that students of Top B-schools have easy access to! Hence, if you’re preparing for CAT or other management entrances, you might as well aim for the top! And once you’ve decided to go for the best, you’ll obviously be tested to see if you’re worth it. This is where CAT comes to the picture. There’s a reason why CAT is deemed one of the most prestigious exams in the country!

Now what makes CAT so special? Is CAT difficult? A lot of people believe that CAT is a difficult exam. However, our Founder and CEO of APEX, Mr. Suraj Chawla disagrees with that statement. He believes that, for any good student, CAT is not a difficult exam, in fact it’s the competition that makes it difficult. After all, it is a percentile game. So what do 99 percentilers do that sets them apart from the rest? And who really is a good student? How do you define a good student? Is it their past academic record? Is it their inherent genius? Not really. Even an inherent genius has no guarantee of cracking the mighty CAT unless he/she puts in the effort required. Similarly, students who perceive themselves as “average” don’t automatically lose the game of CAT. So there it is! It's not about who you are, where you come from, what your academic background is, whether you believe yourself to be intelligent or not; but rather what you are willing to do every single day in order to deserve that 99+ percentile. In order to crack CAT you will have to transform into the best version of yourself in terms of your daily habits, discipline, commitment, the ability to take ownership and develop your knowledge and skills; all of which is done through the preparation process of CAT. Each section of CAT is designed in a way that expects you to master skills and knowledge that a B-school student and a future manager must have!

Here’s why CAT exam is special and why you should opt for it:

1.    Gateway to top Business Schools: CAT Scores are accepted by various premier B-schools or management institutes in the country, including the IIMs which are considered among the best B-schools globally. Securing a high CAT percentile opens doors to these esteemed institutions and provides access to top-notch faculty, industry exposure and extensive networks.

2.    Credibility and Recognition: CAT is widely recognized and respected by employers, academic experts and industry leaders. A degree from a reputed B-school can significantly enhance career prospects and open doors to lucrative job opportunities, leadership roles and entrepreneurial opportunities.

3.    Comprehensive Assessment: CAT is designed to evaluate candidates across multiple areas including Quantitative Aptitude, Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning and Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension. The comprehensive and challenging nature of the exam ensures that students with diverse academic backgrounds and skill sets have an opportunity to showcase their potential.

4.    High Competency: CAT is considered to be one of the most challenging exams in the country that consists of high difficulty level questions which ensures that only the most well prepared students can make it through. This ensures that only the most well-prepared students with a high level of knowledge, skills, habits and abilities, and the ones with necessary managerial values like discipline, hard work, consistency, persistence, etc are given the opportunity to bag admissions into high profile institutes.

5.    Personal and Professional Growth:  B-schools offer a dynamic learning environment, fostering intellectual stimulation, collaborative learning, and healthy competition that equips individuals with the knowledge, skills, habits, abilities and perspectives necessary to thrive in today’s competitive business world!

3.    CAT- STAGES OF ELIMINATION VS SELECTION
CAT is an elimination stage. Every year over 2.3 lakh aspirants apply for CAT out of which only the Top 1% get into Top IIMs like IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta, IIM Indore, IIM Kozhikode, IIM Lucknow and the recently added IIM Mumbai! Of course there are a total of 21 IIMs but the above six take the top slots based on placement records. Apart from the IIMs there are other non IIM top B-schools like FMS Delhi, ISB, SPJIMR, etc., that consider CAT scores for their admission processes. 

Through CAT, a majority of applicants who miss the top 1% slot are usually eliminated, unless there are certain exceptions. The ones who cross the mark are then faced with a new round of challenge which is the GDPIWAT process, although a lot of institutes have now excluded the Group Discussion part. Through the WAT(Written Ability Test) and Personal Interview process candidate are evaluated on their written ability, ability to articulate and convey ideas and opinions, their body language, attitude, general awareness, expertise in their field of study and work (if any) and in general their overall personality, to ensure they fit the B-school’s vision, can handle their challenging curriculum and are worthy to be a part of them; hence making the GDPIWAT process the actual selection stage. So, to conclude, a B-school admission process contains 2 main stages: 
1.    The Entrance Exam
2.    The GD-PI-WAT process
4. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
As per the eligibility criteria, the candidate must have a Bachelor’s degree with at least 50% marks or equivalent CGPA (45% for SC/ST/PwD categories) from a recognized university or educational institution.
There is no upper age limit for appearing in the CAT exam. Candidates of any age can appear in the exam provided they fulfill the eligibility criteria mentioned below.
In short, CAT applicants must meet one of the following requirements:

●    Obtained Bachelor’s Degree with the required marks
●    Completed a professional degree with requisite percentage (CA/CS/ICWA/Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries of India (FIAI)
●    Applicants should be in their final year of Bachelor’s degree program and should obtain the required marks.
●    A minimum of 45 percent is required for SC/ST/PWD candidates. The minimum requirement for General, EWS, and NC-OBC applicants is 50%
The CAT exam is open to a wide range of candidates. If you are in the final year of your undergraduate studies or have already completed your graduation, you are eligible to apply. There is no age limit or attempt limit, making it accessible to everyone. Whether you are a student in the final year of your undergraduate studies, a postgraduate, or a working professional, you can write this exam. The CAT exam welcomes candidates from all backgrounds.
5. IMPORTANT DATES
Please note that the dates given below are based on CAT 2023 trend and are tentative meaning they may or may not be the same for CAT 2024. However, based on previous year trends, these dates will give you a basic idea of what happens when and hence will allow you to plan your preparation wisely while also keeping an eye on important events. 
Please make sure you visit the CAT official website (iimcat.ac.in) regularly to keep a track of these important events.

6. CAT- APPLICATION PROCESS & FEE STRUCTURE
CAT 2024 registration process will be online and you will be required to register at the official website of CAT to fill the online application form. The application process is as mentioned below:
●    Go to the official website: iimcat.ac.in
●    Click on 'new registration'
●    Enter name, date of birth, nationality, phone number and email ID to register
●    Log in with the ID received in email/SMS to fill the CAT application form
●    Enter personal and academic details
●    Upload a recent passport size photo and scanned signature
●    Select preferred courses and IIMs
●    Select test city preference for CAT exam centre allotment
●    Pay CAT application fee via credit/debit card or net banking

7. CAT- PAPER PATTERN

 

8. CAT- SYLLABUS
The CAT exam is divided into three sections with 40 minutes for each section namely-
1.    VARC (Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension)
2.    DILR (Data Interpretation & Logical Reason)
3.    QA (Quantitative Aptitude)

SECTION 1: VARC SYLLABUS
Please read “VARC 7 Month Preparation Schedule” on our website for detailed information.

SECTION-2 : DILR SYLLABUS

Since CAT is very unpredictable, it should be noted that anything and everything can be asked hence it is always recommended to be prepared in every possible topic.

OMET stands for Other Management Entrance Tests. Syllabus for CAT & OMETs can differ based on paper pattern and difficulty level, hence it is advised to go through the entire syllabus thoroughly in case of any surprises on the D-Day.
3. SECTION-3 QUANTITATIVE APTITUDE SYLLABUS

Hence, we have now gone through all the important pieces of information regarding the CAT exam, this will give an idea of the entire timeline of CAT and will help you prepare for it wisely. Please remember that CAT is unpredictable and any kind of changes can happen unannounced. Hence, keeping that in mind ensure that you complete your syllabus and plan your application process wisely. Also note that CAT is just the beginning, the first step of the admission process. After your results get announced you will then have to appear for the second stage which includes the GDPIWAT process. Make sure you follow up with current affairs regulary along with covering the Static GK syllabus from popular books like Manorama to prepare for your Personal Interviews. If you’re a student, you must be thorough with your area of specialisation that you’d opted for during your Under graduation and working professionals must be thorough with every piece of information related to their field or industry. If you have any further questions and would like to discuss your CAT & GDPIWAT preparation in detail, feel free to reach out to us on our website apexinstitute.net.