CAT Syllabus

There is no fixed syllabus for IIM CAT. Past exam pattern depict the questions are mainly from these areas usually divided into Four section
  1. Verbal ability and reasoning
  2. Reading Comprehension
  3. Quantitative skills
  4. Data Interpretation 
Verbal ability and reasoning accounts for half of the verbal section
A typical 50 marks section of verbal comprises Verbal ability and reasoning section and the Reading Comprehension section. Verbal ability accounts for about 25 to 30 marks questions in the verbal section and the reamining 20 to 25 marks questions are Reading comprehension questions.

In CAT 2004 there were 0.5, 1 and 2 marks questions in the verbal section and in CAT 2005 there were 1 mark and 2 marks questions in the verbal section. CAT 2006 and CAT 2007 had 25 questions in the Verbal Ability section with each question carrying 4 marks. Of these 12 to 15 questions were Reading Comprehension question and the remaining questions were Verbal Reasoning questions.

The questions that typically appear in the verbal section can be classified in one of the following types 

Vocabulary Based
 Questions based on testing one's vocabulary could be plain vanilla "synonym - antonym" questions as it appeared in CAT 2001, CAT 2002. Alternatively, the questions on vocabulary may appear as fill in the blank with the appropriate word as it appeared in the 0.5 marks section of CAT 2004 or as part of the 2 marks section in CAT 2005.
There have been interesting variations to this question as in CAT 2001 and CAT 2002 where a simple word was given. Four alternate usages for the word was given and four different shades of meaning for the word was given. One had to match the usage with the appropriate meaning. A sample of such a question is given if you follow the link at the bottom of the page.
However, please note that the emphasis on vocabulary has been on the decline and the need to memorize meanings of words such as "pleonasm" or "pterodactyl" is not essential to crack such questions in CAT.
English Usage / Grammar
 Sentence correction or Grammar based questions appear in different flavours in the CAT verbal section. It could be questions where you are asked to spot the section of a sentence that is gramatically incorrect or it could be questions where a part of a sentence in underlined and you are provided with four or five alternative choices. You have to select the choice that0 corrects the error in the underlined part.
More recently in CAT 2005, questions on grammar appeared with a twist. A set of 4 sentences were given and you had to find out how many out of the 4 sentences were gramatically correct.
A good understanding of the basics of English grammar coupled with adequate exercises on the different types of common errors that appear in CAT will help you sail through these kinds of questions.
Verbal Reasoning
These questions could take multiple forms. The most common one is that of rearranging sentences of a paragraph. It could also include paraphrasing what has been said in a paragraph. In some CAT papers questions similar to the ones that appear in the Critical Reasoning section of GMAT have been tested.
CAT 2006 witnessed the comeback of Fact Inference Judgement questions. These questions which were a standard feature in CAT in the early 90s made a comeback in 2006. You will be given 3 or 4 sentences and will be asked to select which of the statements is a fact, which a judgement and which an inference.

Reading Comprehension accounts for a third to a half of the verbal section in CAT
A typical 100 marks section of verbal comprises Verbal ability and reasoning section and the Reading Comprehension section. Verbal ability accounts for about 40 to 60 marks questions in the verbal section and the reamining 60 to 40 marks questions are Reading comprehension questions. In CAT 2006, 15 out of the 25 questions in the verbal section were reading comprehension questions (i.e., 60 out of 100 marks). In CAT 2007, 12 out of the 25 questions in the verbal section were reading comprehension questions (i.e., 48 out of 100 marks).
Reading Comprehension questions come in groups of four to eight questions, and are based on reading passages that range from 250 to 750 words in length.
To be able to perform well in these types of questions you need to:
read quickly in a way that will allow you to understand the main idea of the passage
eliminate answer choices that could not possibly be correct
take advantage of outside knowledge
take advantage of inside information (the answer that is generally correct in exams like CAT), and
find answers in some cases without reading the passage.
Passages that you will find in the CAT exam can be broadly classified into one of the following types.
1)The social science passage
This usually concerns a social or historical issue. You might see a passage about world population control or  the history of the rise to power of a clan in medieval India.
2)The science passage
This might describe a scientific phenomenon, such as aviation, super conductivity or plate tectonics.
3)The business passage
This usually discusses a business-related topic. For example, you might see a passage about the privatization of state-owned industries, pricing of options and futures or the causes of inflation.
4)The entertainment passage
This usually discusses a topic related to entertainment, sports, leisure. The passage could be on a topic such as the lifestyles of the rich and famous, the reason for the success of a Hollywood or Bollywood movie.

CAT Quantitative Ability (Quant / Math)
Syllabus, Topics tested in IIM's Common Admissions Test
The Quant (Math) section in CAT usually accounts for a third of the questions in CAT. For instance, in CAT 2006 and CAT 2007 the quant section had 100 marks worth questions out of the total of 300 marks worth questions. More often than not students who take CAT find the quant section as the toughest one. Albeit, CAT 2006 was an exception

IIM's CAT Math Refresher Books cover the following topics
Broadly categorized as Arithmetic, Algebra and Geometry CAT typically tests a student's quantitative ability from over 25 topics. These topics that appear in CAT are of high school level. Click on the links that follow each topic for details of what is covered in 2IIM's Quant Refresher books on these topic and for accesing an archive of sample questions from these topics.

  1. Number Systems and Number Theory
  2. Percentages
  3. Profit and Loss
  4. Simple & Compound Interest
  5. Speed, Time and Distance
  6. Pipes and Cisterns
  7. Races
  8. Averages
  9. Ratio, Proportion
  10. Mixtures and Alligations

  1. Linear and Quadratic Equation
  2. Logarithm
  3. Progressions - AP, GP, HP
  4. Binomial Theorem
  5. Inequalities
  6. Permutation & Combination
  7. Probability
  8. Function
  9. Set Theory

  1. Geometry
  2. Co ordinate Geometry
  3. Trigonometry
  4. Mensuration
Data Interpretation (DI) Section
Data Interpretation (DI) section accounts for a third of the questions that appear in CAT
Data Interpretation (DI) - what does it comprise?
Data Interpretation accounted for 50 marks questions in the Common Admissions Tests (CAT) since CAT 2001. CAT 2005 had 30 questions in this section. 10 of the 30 questions were 1 mark questions and the remaining 20 were 2 marks questions. CAT 2006 and CAT 2007, each had 25 questions in this section. Each qeustion carried 4 marks
Data Intrepretation section can be broadly classified as comprising two types of questions.
Data Interpretation (DI)
    In these questions data is presented either in the form of a table or a bar chart or a pie chart or a line graph or as a combination of one of these formats. Following each of these data presentations, there will be 4 to 6 questions. You are expected to answer the questions by interpreting the data given in the table or graph. Here is a sample data interpretation question.
Data Sufficiency (DS)
    Every Data Sufficiency problem consists of a question followed by two statements. You have to decide NOT WHAT THE ANSWER IS, BUT WHETHER THE QUESTION CAN BE ANSWERED based on the information given in the two statements.

    CAT exams till 2004 had DS questions either as part of the quant section or as part of the DI section. CAT 2005 and CAT 2006 did not have any DS questions at all. But it staged a comeback in CAT 2007. Hence, one cannot rule out such questions in future CAT exams.

More Info. About CAT >>
Common Admission Test(CAT)
CAT Exam Analysis and Cut Off
CAT Topic Analysis
CAT Tips for Preparation
IIM Seat

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