CAT Exam 2021- Eligibility, Syllabus & Best Books to Prepare

CAT Exam 2021- Eligibility, Syllabus & Best Books to Prepare
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CAT Exam 2021 – Eligibility, Syllabus & Best Books to Prepare

Common Admission Test (CAT) is one of the most competitive exams organised for the admission into 20 IIMs and over 1200 B-schools in India. The IIM Indore, Madhya Pradesh is the organizing institution of the National Level Exam – CAT exam 2021. The exam is conducted once in year over 156 cities across India. Every year over two lakh applicants appear for the exam with an aim to secure a seat in the most prestigious IIMs (Indian Institute of Management). All IIMs are a completely government-owned institute of management education and research. The CAT exam 2021 is an online exam comprising of 100 MCQs and non-MCQs with a time limit of 120 minutes i.e,2 hours.

CAT Exam 2021 Highlights

Organising Body IIM
Conducting Institute IIM, Indore
CAT Exam Frequency Once a Year
CAT Exam Fees Rs 2000 (General) Rs 1000(reserved)
Courses can Apply MBA/PGDM
CAT Exam Level National Level
CAT Exam Duration 120 Minutes
CAT Exam Website
CAT Exam Helpdesk No. 1-800-209-0830 (Toll-Free)

CAT Exam Eligibility Criteria

The minimum eligibility criteria for CAT exam are explained in detail below:

  • The applicant must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum of 50 per cent or equivalent CGPA from a recognised university. In the case of reserved category (SC&ST), this will be 45 per cent.

  • The applicant must be the final year of the graduation year or they should be able to submit their graduation certificate at the time of admission.

  • The applicant must have a professional degree like CA/CS/ICWA with minimum 50 per cent of total and 45 per cent in the case of reserved category.

CAT Exam Syllabus

In this year, the CAT exam duration was reduced from 180 minutes to 120 minutes (3 hours to 2 hours). Till last year, there were 100 questions since the time being reduced the total number of questions will also be probably reduced. According to the experts, this will be 30 to 33%. Even though there are the same three divisions the questions will be around 70-72.

The three sections of the CAT exam are divided into main three sections and each section has an important topic to be covered. These three sections carry different weightage in the exam and accordingly, the applicant needs to focus on the different topics. The table below shows the overview of the topics in the CAT Exam 2021.

CAT Exam 2021 Syllabus Sectional Division Topics Covered Weightage in CAT Exam
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC) Long & short Passages, Jumbled Paragraphs; Para-summary, Picking the Out of Context sentence from a jumbled paragraph  



Quantitative Ability (QA) Arithmetic, Modern Maths, Number System Algebra, Mensuration, Trigonometry, Geometry  


Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) Data Charts, Data Tables, Bar Graphs, Venn Diagrams, Seating arrangement, Team formation, Clocks & Calendars  



From the year 2020, there is a significant change in the score pattern that is, along with the time the number of questions has also reduced. The table below shows the detailed description of the new question number pattern likely from section-1 to section-3 and the number questions carrying negative and without negative marks according to the latest scoring pattern announced by CAT Exam 2021.

Sections as per CAT exam 2021 Expected total Questions Expected total MCQs (with negative Marking) Expected Total Non-MCQs (without negative marking) Total Maximum marks
Section-1: Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension  













Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning














Quantitative Ability (QA)









Total 64-70 45-52 16-22 192-210


Why it is important to choose the best book for CAT Exam 2021?

The pattern of the CAT exam and the type of question changes every year. Over the past few years, the exam has evolved through a significant transformation starting from the duration of the exam to the question pattern change. So, while choosing the book it is important to keep these facts in mind. The applicant should see that the book selected should be updated in accordance with the changed syllabus and the difficulty level are also best for the CAT exam. The book should also have previous year question paper along with the anticipated question type for the exam. The candidate must select the book that has been modified to the latest pattern. The most important factors to be kept in mind while selecting the books are the following:

  • Latest edition: Ensure that book you select includes the latest pattern as it provides the add-ons of the new topics which are added. The authors should always be ready to enhance their content in accordance with the new syllabus and candidate to make sure they select the latest edition of the book.

  • Rich in content: See that the book you select provide what you are looking for. Ensure that the book covers the topic and help to understand the syllabus easily with all tricks and points makes it the best book.

  • Credible Author: There are a lot of books available in the market from different authors. There will be new authors as well as established and renowned authors. And it is always recommended to prefer buying books written by renowned authors.

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The Best Book for Cat Exam 2021 Preparations

The selection of the most useful book is always crucial for CAT exam 2021 preparation. The book market is very wide and varied. When they select the best book for CAT exam preparation, they must ensure that they refer to these books too. Here, we discuss in detail which can help the aspirants to choose that will be helping to devise the strategy for CAT accordingly.

Books for Quantitative Ability
  1. How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT – Arun Sharma:

    This book is most popular among the CAT aspirants as it is very helpful for learning every topic with the basics. The most important factor which makes the book different from others is that it has 3 levels of difficulty for each topic which help the students to prepare. Understanding from the very basic level makes the learning easier, this book by Arun Sharma is designed particularly covering the basic concept.

    Buy Now – How to prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT

  2. NCERT Mathematics Books (6-10):

    The books from high school classes make the preparation more interesting and effective as we learn from the basics. Everyone needs to brush the most basic concept before learning and solving advanced problems.

    Buy NCERT Mathematics Books Set Class 6 to 10 (English Medium)

  3. Quantitative Aptitude Quantum CAT-Sarvesh Verma:

    The book can help every student even not from the non-mathematical background can easily learn the concepts easily due to its tailor-made content for every aspirant.

    Buy Quantitative Aptitude Quantum Cat 2020

  4. Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations- Abhijit Guha:

    This QA book is a comprehensive book for every competitive exam, especially for CAT and all the aptitude test.

    Buy Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations | 7th Edition

  5. Quantitative Aptitude for CAT – Nishit Sinha:

    This a Pearson book which focuses deeply on the core topics for basic and advanced application. The USP of the book is that it is written by an alumnus of IIM Lucknow who is specialised in CAT Training and Coaching.

    Buy Quantitative Aptitude for CAT, 5e

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Verbal Ability Books for CAT

  1. How to prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT -Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay:

    This book can be very helpful for students to brush up their verbal and reading comprehension skills. The topic covered includes reading comprehension, verbal ability, and verbal reasoning. There is also a previous question paper and mock test paper for self-assessment.

    Buy – How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT | 9th Edition

  2. Word Power Made Easy -Norman Lewis:

    This will help the aspirants improve their vocabulary to a great-extend. This can be very helpful for the exam and for the group discussion and personal interviews.

    Buy – Word Power Made Easy (Used book)

  3. High School Grammar and Composition- Wren and Martin:

    The book provides knowledge about the very basic concept of English grammar ultimately will help to improve their grammar skill. It is a must-have book for everyone who is poor on verbal ability to learn from the beginning.

    Buy Wren & Martin’s Regular & Multicolour Edition of High School English Grammar & Composition

  4. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT-Nishit Sinha:

    This is a Pearson book which is a very exclusive book for verbal ability. The book provides mock test papers and also provide a special approach for solving technique and approaches. It is a highly recommended and best book for the topic.

    Buy Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT| Fourth Edition| By Pearson

  5. Reading books:

    The reading books from different genres are helping very much to improve their verbal ability. It also ensures that we are acquainted with different writing style and topics. The reading speed can also be increased to great extend which can help while reading passages.

Books for Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

    1. A Modern Approach to Logical Reasoning- R.S. Agarwal:

      This book covers all the important topic such as logic, logical puzzles, statements, course of actions, inferences and arguments, assumptions, conclusions, etc. This book starts with the basics of reasoning and is quite easy to follow which makes it the most preferred book among CAT aspirants.

      Buy Now – A Modern Approach to Logical Reasoning (2 Colour Edition)

    2. How to Prepare for Data Interpretation for CAT -Arun Sharma:

      the data interpretation is an important part of the exam this book focuses on all areas of Data interpretation and Data Sufficiency. The book emphasizes on enhancing the calculative power to get control with DI. They also include previous year questions, models, and mock test papers.

      Buy Now – How to Prepare for DATA INTERPRETATION for CAT

    3. How to Prepare for Logical Reasoning for CAT- Arun Sharma: 

      This is a Tata McGraw Hill contains all the topics to be considered for every competitive exam. Every topic is demonstrated with many examples with problems with varying difficulty levels to solve which give enough practise for the sections.

      Buy Now – How to Prepare for Logical Reasoning for CAT

    4. Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for the CAT- Nishit Sinha: 

      This book includes case lets, examples and exercises to do which help the aspirants learn easily covering all the fundamental and advanced topics. The book can be helpful for every competitive exam.

      Buy Now – Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for CAT 7e

    5. Data interpretation- Nishit Sinha: 

      The book includes a lot of practice papers to sharpen the skill for Data Interpretation.

      Buy Now – Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for CAT 7e

There are a handful of other books which are also preferred by the aspirants which include Previous Years CAT Paper, help us to get used with the pattern of questions being asked. The mock papers and analysis help one to get a proper insight into the preparations. The practising previous year paper will help to increase speed, getting used to questions and answers, faster reading etc.

 General Knowledge Books

Current GK

It is always preferred to read the newspaper and make short notes out it will help the preparation rather than learning all info at once. The aspirants can read the popular daily’s like The Hindu, Financial Express and The Economists etc. reading the current affair yearbooks is also very beneficial if you don’t like to read newspapers. There are many apps providing current affairs in capsule form along with daily quizzes which is very useful like Gradeup.

Static GK

This is a very tough nut to crack as the section is vast it covers all the topics like Biographies, Politics, Sports, Entertainment, etc. The books like “Static General Knowledge” by A.P. Bhardwaj and S. Anand’s “Advanced Objective General Knowledge” can be referred. There are also popular apps for the preparation of Static GK that can be downloaded from the play store.

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