As rightly said that it is important to understand the monster before even thinking of taming it, so all those aspirants who have decided to write CAT the next year or are in the process of deciding to appear for the same, it is imperative to know the CAT syllabus before starting with its preparation. From the past three years, CAT has been divided into three sections- Verbal ability and Reading comprehension (VaRc), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)and Quantitative Aptitude (QA). With a total of 100 questions each constituting 3 marks and a penalty of 1 mark for every wrong answer, it is a three-hour examination testing the knowledge, aptitude, language skills and temperament of the students appearing for CAT. A familiarity with the CAT syllabus will eventually help a student to prepare well in advance and to structure his/her strategy in order to score an excellent percentile. Even though, there is no such fixed pattern on which one can expect questions to appear in this exam, still based on previous trends one can analyse the different topics and the structure of the problems that can be presumed to appear in the exam. So, here we shall go through the detailed outline of the entire CAT syllabus.

This section checks the language skills of an aspirant and the command over the English language. The entire verbal CAT syllabus can be divided into the following sections

1. Reading Comprehension

Here passages from diverse fields like Economics, Politics, Social Issues, Science and Technology, Geography, Environment, Sports, Literature and Arts, History etc are given and based on the understanding of the passage discussed, one is required to solve questions. The questions might be direct, inference based, author’s opinion, the tone of the author and application based. From the previous trends, there are three passages comprising of six questions each while two passages with three questions each. So, out of 34 problems, 24 questions come directly from Reading Comprehension. If one is able to interpret the passage accurately and with a good speed, then this section alone fetches an aspirant a phenomenal percentile in the verbal section.

2. Critical reasoning

The different models of questions that can be asked in CAT are based on assumptions, conclusions, strengthening and weakening of the argument, inference that can be derived from the statements given.

3. Para-jumbles

Here four to five statements are given in the problem and a candidate is expected to arrange these statements in a logical manner so that a paragraph is completed with utmost consistency. Usually, three to four questions come from this section in CAT.

4. Summary

In these type of problems, a paragraph is given and based upon that a student has to summarise the entire paragraph in one statement that accurately defines all the main points given in the paragraph. Around three questions can be expected in CAT from this section.

5. Odd one out

Here again four to five statements are given in which a candidate has to choose the one statement that doesn’t align with the rest of the statements. In other words, one has to identify the statement that is out of context. One can find around two to three questions based on this concept.

6. Para-completion

Here a paragraph is given out of which one statement is missing. Based on the flow and context of the paragraph, one has to find the most suitable statement from the options given that accurately completes the paragraph.

7. Vocabulary:

One may not find direct questions from this section, but indirectly vocabulary holds the key to the understanding of the passages and questions. If one has a sound command over vocabulary, then the interpretation of passages becomes a cake walk. In other entrance exams one can find direct questions from this section like synonyms, antonyms, fill in the blanks etc.

Before we jump on listing the conventional topics from which sets do appear, it is to be fairly understood by the students that there is no predefined syllabus for this section. Anything under the sky could be asked. DILR tests the logical and analytical abilities of a student that require no prerequisite knowledge but an innate ability to solve complex real-life problems that involve data, numbers and logic. Based on patterns that have appeared in the previous CAT papers, one can bifurcate the DILR section into various topics:

Data Interpretation

The sets on Data Interpretation (DI) involve numbers, facts and figures and require one’s skill to calculate quickly and come to relevant conclusions based on the information given in the set. The information can be represented in different formats :

  • I. Tables

  • II. Line Graphs

  • III. Bar Graphs

  • IV. Pie Charts

  • V. XY Charts

  • VI. Caselets

  • VII. Reasoning based Data Interpretation

In sets involving DI, one needs to be comfortable with the calculations and have a fair knowledge of the mathematical tools like percentages, ratio and proportion and averages. Before attempting the questions, one must clearly understand what the set is talking about and then based on the questions one must start attempting the problems. Recently the emphasis has been on caselets i.e. sets based on paragraphs with no representation of data in the standard format like tables or bar graphs or pie charts.

Logical Reasoning :

Logical Reasoning (LR) involves how one can systematically connect the information given in the problem exercising his/her mental faculties and infer at the conclusions hidden in the problems. It involves how one can successfully connect the dots using the piece of information given in the set. From knowledge of the past papers, one can define the syllabus of LR as:

  • I. Arrangements- Linear and Circular

  • II. Distribution

  • III. Binary Logic

  • IV. Games and Tournaments

  • V. Selections

  • VI. Rankings

  • VII. Blood Relations

  • VIII. Network Diagrams

  • IX. Venn Diagrams (Can be included in DI as well)

  • X. Puzzles

From the previous trends, one can witness around eight sets with 4 questions each in this section With each year passing by, CAT is raising the level of difficulty of the sets that appear in this section. So, one requires a lot of practice to be able to ace in this section.

Quantitative Aptitude involves the basic math that one has studied till X standard. We can divide the entire Quant syllabus into different topics and subtopics:

1. Geometry

  • I. Lines and Angles- Parallel lines and Angle sum property in triangles

  • II. Triangles- Triangle Inequality, Types of triangles, Medians, Altitudes, Angle Bisectors, Perpendicular bisectors and their point of intersection, Basic Proportionality Theorem, Midpoint theorem, Similarity.

  • III. Polygons- Properties of different polygons like square, rectangle, trapezium, parallelogram, rhombus, octagon, hexagon, kite etc.

  • IV. Circles- Properties of Circles

  • V. Mensuration- Volume and surface area of solids- cube, cuboid, pyramid, prism, cylinder, cone and sphere.

  • VI. Coordinate Geometry- Coordinate plane, lines and their slopes along with equations, pair of lines and equation of circles and their applications.

2. Arithmetic :

  • I. Percentages

  • II. Ratio and Proportion

  • III. Averages

  • IV. Time, Speed and Distance

  • V. Time and Work + Pipes and Cisterns

  • VI. Mixtures and Alligations

  • VII. Simple Interest

  • VIII. Compound Interest

3. Algebra :

  • I. Theory of Equations- Roots of nth degree equation

  • II. Linear Equations- Special equations, Linear equations in one, two or more variables with word problems.

  • III. Quadratic Equations- Nature of roots and location of roots.

  • IV. Logarithms- Properties of Log

  • V. Inequalities- Various types of inequalities- rational, exponential, logarithmic inequalities.

  • VI. Sequence and Series- Arithmetic Progression, Geometric Progressions, Harmonic Progressions and Special Series.

  • VII. Functions – Types of Functions, Absolute Value Function, Graphs, Maxima and Minima, Functions as series etc.

4. Number System :

  • I. Types of Numbers- natural numbers, whole numbers and integers

  • II. Divisibility Rules

  • III. Factors- Finding number of factors, sum of factors, product of all the factors of a number etc

  • IV. HCF and LCM

  • V. Remainders

  • VI. Base System and Factorial

5. Modern Math :

  • I. Permutations and Combinations

  • II. Probability

  • III. Set theory

Other than these topics, Trigonometry must also be studied thoroughly as one may find its application in other topics. Trigonometry includes Trigonometric ratios and Identities and Heights and Distance.

Based on the recent trends we can say that algebra and arithmetic constitute major two topics from which 70% of the problems appear (based on CAT-2017). One can expect around 5-6 problems from Geometry, 2-3 problems from Number system and 2-3 problems from Modern Math.

As CAT is quite an unpredictable exam, so one must get comfortable with questions from each section and each topic. So, before embarking on the journey to CAT, go through the entire CAT syllabus.


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