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CAT Exam Pattern: Second chance takers at an edge in CAT 2016

Last Updated - September 28, 2016

The CAT Exam is one of the most competitive exams of our country. Almost 1.8 Lacs students participated in CAT 2015 and in CAT 2016, over 2.5 lacs applications are expected. Where this year’s CAT Exam Date is approaching, we take a note of how the second time appearing candidates are at an edge over the others. It is natural that the second chance takers will bear an advantage since, they already have gone through the CAT Exam once. They hold a better experience of attempting a completely revamped and modified CAT Exam paper that came last year.

We all know that the CAT 2015 observed a new CAT Exam Pattern.This year’s CAT is to follow the same footsteps. For those who attempted the CAT 2015, will naturally know the different pattern of questions, increased number of sections, re-introduction of sectional time constraint, DILR section introduction and other related things, where it might give them an advantage this year.

The convener of CAT 2016, Prof. Rajendra K. Bandi, states that he doesn’t intend to change anything as far as the structure and content of CAT 2016 is concerned. This will obviously put the second timers at an advantage. Candidates can devise their preparation strategies in accordance with last year’s paper.

Sectional division of CAT Paper

In a recent notification about the CAT 2016 exam, it tells about the different sections of this year’s paper. They will be exactly as CAT 2015. The three sections are as follows:

Section I: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension

Section II: Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

Section III: Quantitative Ability

Candidates can also take note that the order of these sections is also same. Till 2014, the Quantitative Ability section used to be the first section, followed by Verbal Ability. From 2015, the Quant became the last section. The placement of these sections seems to affect the appearing candidates. Quant requires a lot of calculation and time and its placement in the last section can affect the CAT Results of many. Candidates get exhausted by the time they reach the last section hence, affecting their performance.


For all those appearing for the first time, we suggest you to strategize your practice sessions in a way that you finish the Quant section in as less time as possible along with ample practice of other sections.

Introduction of Non-MCQ Questions

The CAT 2015 Paper observed the introduction of non-MCQ questions. These questions need to be dealt with utter precaution and precision. These questions do not provide any answer choices. Candidates need to solve it and arrive at the correct answer and then type the answer on the space given on the computer screen. Non-MCQ questions will not carry any negative marking.

How to answer NON MCQ Questions in CAT 2016

We still can’t be sure of how many of these Non-MCQ questions to expect this year. For the last year, there were 28% of them present in the paper. The CAT Notification reads, ‘The number of questions varies and cannot be disclosed’.

Out of the 38 VARC & 34 Quant questions last year, there were 10 Non-MCQ questions in each of the 2 sections. The newly created DILR section with 32 questions also had 8 Non-MCQs. In a statement by Prof. S.K. Agarwal, he says, ‘those who are appearing for the second time in CAT 2016, they know very well that there is no fear of losing marks due to negative marking, even if your answer goes wrong in Non-MCQs’.  

According to the CAT Centre 2016, “For questions other than MCQs, 3 marks are assigned for ‘correct answer’ and no marks for ‘incorrect answer or no attempt'.

The sectional time limit

Till 2014, there used to be a sectional time constraint. Candidates were supposed to attempt a section in the allotted time only. This limit was again introduced from 2015 and shall continue in CAT 2016 too. So, if a candidate saves time in one section, this move disables him to jump to the other section. However, candidates who appeared in previous year’s CAT Exam, must now have a fair idea as to how to strategize their time.


On order of answering the questions

The CAT Centre 2016 clarifies, “You must answer the sections in a pre-specified order and this order will remain same for all the candidates”. This means that candidates cannot jump to any section of their choice but, have to attempt them in the given order only.

The CAT 2016 will be consisting of both MCQ & Non-MCQ questions. Most of the candidates in CAT 2015 preferred to attempt the Non-MCQ questions first, beginning with the VARC section.

CAT Paper Analysis For QACAT Paper Analysis For DI

Then come the MCQ questions. You must move from easy to difficult ones. Prof. S.K. Agarwal advices the candidates to not get tempted by the questions and answer them in a hurry. They must be answered only if you are sure about the correct answer. Else, a substantial amount of percentile will be lost due to negative marking.

No change in CAT 2016 Scoring Pattern

All the questions, whether MCQ or Non-MCQ, will be carrying equal marks i.e. 3 marks each.

The scoring scheme for Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs) is as follows:

  • Marks for each correct answer- 3 marks
  • Marks fetched for an incorrect answer -1
  • No marks are given or deducted for un-attempted questions

The CAT Registrations began from August 8,2016. The CAT Result shall come in the mid-week of January 2017. We wish luck to all the candidates appearing for the CAT 2016 on December 4,2016. This year’s exam is expected to be as difficult. After all, the gateway to IIM’s is not easy. With respect to the same, IIM-Ahmedabad has reduced its minimum qualifying percentile from 90 to 80 in its first stage of counselling. We hope that the first timers and second timers score to the best of their potential.



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