Common Admission Test

The Common Admission Test (CAT) is a Computer Based Test in Quantitative Ability, Data Interpretation, Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning. The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) use the test as an important component in selecting students for the business administration programs.[1] The test is conducted every year by one of the IIM's based on a policy of rotation. In August 2011 it was announced that Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) would use CAT, instead of JMET, as part of the student selection process of their MBA and Masters in Management programmes from the academic year 2012-14.[2]



The Common Admission Test (CAT) is conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) as a pre-requisite for admission to various management programmes of IIMs, IITs, FMS and IISc. For details on programmes offered by each of the IIMs, please refer to their respective websites [3].

There are non-IIM institutions that have registered to avail the CAT scores to be used in their admission process. CAT score use is restricted only for admission to IIMs and non-IIM member institutions.

CAT is normally conducted every year during a 20 day testing window in the months of October and November. A candidate can appear for CAT 2011 only once during the 20-day testing window. The test score is valid for admission to the forthcoming academic year only.[4]

Test Duration and Pattern

There will be two separately timed sections in the test. Once a section ends, candidates can no longer go back to it. The sections are (a) Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation (b) Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning. Each of the sections will have 30 questions with a duration of 1 hour and 10 minutes. Including a 15-minute tutorial before the start of the test which candidates are advised to go through, the total duration of the test will be 2 hours and 35 minutes.[5]

The pattern and duration of the test has seen considerable variations over the years.


The CAT, like virtually all large-scale exams, utilises multiple forms, or versions, of the test. Hence there are two types of scores involved viz. raw score and scaled score.

The raw score is calculated for each section based on the number of questions one answered correctly, incorrectly, or omitted. Candidates are given +3 points for each correct answer and -1 point for each incorrect answer. There are no points for questions that are not answered. The raw scores are then adjusted, as necessary, through a process called equating. Equated raw scores are then placed on a common scale or metric to ensure appropriate interpretation of the scores. This process is called scaling.

Three scaled scores will be presented for each candidate: an overall scaled score and two separate scaled scores for each section. As the two sections evaluate distinct sets of knowledge and skills, scores do not correlate across sections. A high score in one section does not guarantee a high score in another section. Percentile rankings are provided for each individual section as well as for the overall exam score.[6]


Before 2009, CAT was a paper based test conducted on a single day for all candidates. The pattern, number of questions and duration have seen considerable variations over the years.

On 1 May 2009, it was announced that from CAT would be a Computer Based Test starting from CAT 2009. The American firm Prometric has been entrusted with the responsibility of conducting the computer based test.[7] The first computer based CAT was marred by technical snags[8]. The issue was so serious that it prompted the Government of India to seek a report from the convenor[9]. The trouble was diagnosed as 'Conflicer' and 'W32 Nimda', the two viruses that attacked the system display of the test, causing severe slow down.[10]

Other colleges

Many business schools in India, other than the IIMs, also use the CAT scores as a criterion for admission. As of 2011, CAT scores are used by approximately 145 institutes in India.[11]. The list includes eminent institutes like:

For the complete list of institutes using CAT scores please see [12]


External links

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