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CAT Exam: Expect more weightage to Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension in CAT 2016

Last Updated - September 28, 2016

CAT (Common Admission Test) is one of the top most national level computer based exam. The exam is jointly conducted every year by the IIMs. CAT Exam is conducted for the aspirants who seek to get admission in the Post Graduate Management Programmes offered in various IIMs and many other Institutes that considers the score of CAT exam.

The CAT aspirants belonging to various non-engineering backgrounds (Arts, Commerce, Medical, CAs or CS etc.) and who wish to get admission in various Managerial Programmes offered by numerous Institutes can now take a sigh of relief. The reason for this is that there is a possibility of change in the CAT Exam Pattern. This change will most likely be in favour of the aspirants who do not belong to the engineering background.

The CAT Syllabus is majorly divided into three sections. Mentioned below are the names for the same:

CAT Verbal Ability and Reading ComprehensionCAT Mathematics/ Quantitative AptitudeCAT Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning

For the current year, there has been a lot of talk happening around the CAT exam. Like IIM Ahmedabad being one of the CAT exam conducting institute adopted the ‘Academic Diversity Policy’. They did this so as to improve and enhance the quality of learning atmosphere around the campus. The other IIMs are yet to opt for this policy. There is a huge possibility that the Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC) section may get more weightage.

VARC is the section that consists of questions relating to Reading comprehension, verbal reasoning, syllogisms, analogies, antonyms and synonyms, fill in the blanks, sentence correction, idioms, etc. The questions in this section aims to understand the candidates understanding of the English Fundamentals. You can refer to various CAT VARC Study Material to improve or test your skills for the same.

If this change is implemented in the CAT Exam Pattern, then this would equalize the chances for both the categories of getting admission in various CAT Participating Colleges.  The reason for adopting this change is because the authorities envision to attract more non-engineers in IIMs. As per Convener of the CAT 2016 Professor Rajendra K Bandi, it is expected that questions in VARC section may increase from 34 to 40 or 44, in case CAT 2016 exam center decides to keep the total number of questions between 90 to 100.

As per the Convener, the exam pattern will have lots of changes and will be more demanding one. It also means that the level of examination will be of a higher difficulty level. A lot of information has been kept confidential and has started to raise questions regarding the authenticity of exam. The questions that are popping up are as follows:

  • How many questions will be there in each of the CAT exam sections?
  • What would be the weightage of each section?
  • Why was there no mention of total or sectional division of questions which used to be informed along with the CAT Notification in the past years?

The information not being released about the sectional division of the questions has created more confusion and doubt among the candidates as well as their parents. They are in a mindset where they are thinking, if:

  • The earlier CAT exams were devoid of confidentiality or
  • If CAT 2016 is the only one who would follow this norm?

Right now, these doubt have not yet been acknowledged by the Professor Bandi but he sure did answer few of the other queries relating to the CAT.

On giving more Weightage to CAT VARC section

The main reason to do this to increase the participation level of the candidates from non-engineering background. Also, to increase the women participation as well. Hence, improving the gender and academic diversity. If this change is done, this would definitely attract more candidates to sit for the exam. Since IIMs have high number of candidates from engineering back ground, therefore every step is being taken to discourage this composition. This would become possible only by reducing the weightage of Quantitative and Data Interpretation in CAT 2016 or by introducing different question pattern.

IIM A Selection CriteriaIIM B Selection CriteriaIIM C Selection CriteriaIIM L Selection CriteriaIIM Shillong Selection Criteria

So, the candidates should know that it is very much possible that more number of Verbal Ability questions might appear in the exam especially on the topics which have not marked their presence in last 2-3 years.

On the changes in the Sectional Division

The changes in the sections would be done to make all the candidates from non-engineering background that they too have equal chance to get admission in various Management Institutes that come under the CAT Exam. If they want the scenario of change in the participating candidates, then they will definitely get the results from giving more weightage to the VARC section in the exam.

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This might be one of the reasons for not notifying or announcing the total number of questions and their sectional division.

On Additions in VARC Section

It is expected that ratio of questions based on Reading Comprehension (RC) passages may remain the same or may increase further. According to present scenario RC enjoys 70% weightage in CAT exam. In order to increase the importance of VARC section, more questions on error correction and vocabulary usage could be re-introduced in the exam.


For those of you who are taking CAT for the second or third time, might remember that there was no vocabulary based questions in 2014 and no questions were asked on error correction in sentences or on vocabulary usage, fill in the blanks in 2015.

On the weightage of Other Sections

With a clarity of the convener not to give advantage to the candidates from Engineering background in the testing pattern, it is expected that changes by reducing the number of questions in Quant section and Data Interpretation part of DILR section might be introduced in CAT 2016. Besides, Quant or DI may also not have such type of questions which may give advantage to the candidates coming from engineering or similar other technical back ground. Total scores in these sections may therefore be less than what used to be assigned in earlier CAT exams. This could further reduce their weightage in shortlisting by IIMs.


Now, we suggest the candidates be it from the engineering background or from non-engineering background to keep a regular and a close check on the official website for the latest updates. Being one of the top most exam and also the most difficult exam, you should make sure to prepare for it in a well-organized way. Also, make sure that you make a proper plan or timetable and follow it religiously.   



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