CAT Exam - Expectation vs Reality

One of the country's most critical and well-liked competitive exams is the Common Admission Test (CAT). Every year, approximately two lakh candidates take the exam. However, many things that come along with the preparations—most of which are untrue—make a candidate nervous about the exam. At least one of them must have crossed your path as well. So, let's clarify a few of these widespread CAT exam misconceptions.

CAT Exam - Expectation vs Reality

8 Misconceptions about the CAT Exam

  1. Studying for long hours

There is no specific time to identify the best time to begin exam preparations. Some applicants may begin their CAT preparation earlier, starting as little as a few months before the test. It is impossible to predict whether you will pass the exam based on the start time. It is more important to improve your skills and be effective in the little time you have to prepare for the exam than spending a long time.

  1. Following last year's pattern

Do not assume that the CAT exam pattern will remain the same as the previous year's. In 2019, 100 questions had to be completed in 180 minutes. In 2020, 76 questions had to be completed in 120 minutes. And in 2022, 66 questions had to be completed in 120 minutes. So, this year also, be prepared for surprises.

  1. The CAT exam is highly competitive.

The exam is also a fiercely competitive one and the general data also supports this; every year, approximately 2.5 lakh applicants attempt the IIMCAT for more than 5000 seats at the various IIMs. However, more than 50% of students take the exam unprepared and without significant study time. Hence, ultimately, only 1 lakh students compete. Additionally, if we include seats from other renowned universities, the total number increases from 15,000 to 20,000. Thus, dedicated students with well-focused efforts can easily crack the test and be admitted to the best B-schools.

  1. CAT has high cut-offs

In general, it is believed that one needs a very high percentile—not less than 99 percentile—to be accepted into the IIMs. However, that is untrue. One must pass the sectional and overall cut-offs to be admitted to the IIMs. The minimum cut-offs to be considered for a call from an IIM are only between the 80 and 85 percentile.

  1. Strong mathematics skills are required.

Understanding the principles of mathematics is essential. It makes no difference whether your maths score was in the 90s or not when preparing for the CAT. Topics in Quantitative Aptitude are upper-level Math topics learned in Class 9 and 10. The questions are familiar to most. The goal is to enhance core subjects and learn how to apply them. If your math skills aren't good at the start of your CAT study, they will be by the time the exam approaches. So, keep practicing diligently.

  1. The CAT exam is challenging.

This is the most popular misconception about the CAT. Although the exam is more demanding than other MBA entry examinations, it is never extraordinarily difficult. The exam has kept the difficulty level at 'moderate to high' over the years. All it takes is a well-planned six-month preparation approach with a daily studying of 4 to 8 hours.

  1. Engineering Students generally do better

The CAT is an aptitude test that calls for superior logic and analytical abilities. Regardless of school experience, anyone with strong logical and analytical skills or the potential to develop these can pass the CAT exam with high marks. On the other hand, students with an engineering background may find the CAT's VARC (Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension) portion challenging.

  1. Challenging for Freshers to get into a top B-school

Work experience is optional to study in a top business school. Statistics show that 30–40% of the students in every IIM batch are freshers, eliminating common misconceptions about the exam. Colleges consider various factors when admitting students, including your profile, knowledge and talents, CAT percentile, and GDPI (Group Discussion Personal Interview) round. Work experience is just an extra advantage. It can be challenging to study for the exam while working a job. So, you can enroll in a top B-school right after graduation and prepare for the exam while attending college. Therefore, fresher candidates might be less difficult to get admitted into a top B-school.


The CAT exam can help candidates enrol into one of their dream institutions, such as the IIMs. It is strongly advised to plan and strategise well under the guidance of a professional if you want to perform well in this test rather than self-studying. The candidates encounter various myths, challenges, and questions as they go through the preparation process. Students may begin to doubt their skills or become anxious about their preparation when faced with these exam myths. Therefore, candidates should not believe the myths and have incorrect exam expectations. Visit Physicswallah to learn more about the CAT and how to prepare for it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q.1. Is a calculator allowed at the exam center?

Ans. No, candidates are not allowed to carry calculators to the exam center. On-screen calculators will be accessible to candidates during the exam.

Q.2. I have received multiple passwords. Which password do I need to use to log in?

Ans. A candidate must have received the most recent SMS containing a password. Enter your user ID and select the "Forgot password" option if the issue still exists. The new password will now be sent to the candidate's registered email addresses.

Q.3. What is the CAT 2023 scoring system?

Ans. For Multiple choice questions (MCQs), the "right response" will receive three points, while "incorrect or unattempted answers" will receive no points. The following is the scoring scale for MCQs:

  • Three points are awarded for every correct response
  • One mark is deducted for every incorrect answer
  • Unattempted questions will not result in mark deductions

Q.4. Can I modify or change the CAT 2023 application form once the payment is made?

Ans. Once the CAT application money has been paid, changes to the application form cannot be made. Candidates, however, will only be able to modify their signature and photograph in the correction box.

Q.5. Can I apply for multiple CAT 2023 slots?

Ans. No, candidates are not permitted to apply for more than one slot. If someone tries to show up for both slots, it will be considered fraudulent behavior. The validity of photo IDs, admit cards, candidate photos, and biometric data will be checked to ensure that each applicant only has one attempt.

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