CAT 2018 Notification released: Your handy 4-step guide to the CAT this year!

The Indian Institutes of Management (better known as the IIM’s), who are the hosts and organizers of the computer-based Common Admission Test 2018, or CAT 2018, have released the much-awaited CAT 2018 notification on the 29th of July, 2018! If you’re a first-time CAT applicant willing to take the test this year, this article is for you to scourge over comprehensively!

For starters, know that the CAT exam is slated to be held on the 25th of November, 2018 in two slots. The host and organizer for this year’s (2018) CAT exam shall be IIM Calcutta!

You should also know that Singapore Management University, or SMU, which is an International B-School, has now joined the IIM’s in welcoming the CAT score as an acceptable demonstration of MBA aptitude. In other words, SMU now accepts CAT scores as part of their B-school admissions process! And you can use your CAT scores to apply to this school!

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Your handy 4-step guide to CAT 2018

We have simplified the CAT 2018 Notification release into a 4-step guide to CAT 2018, so that you understand what are your next steps from this very moment, as you read on.

Step 1: Check your eligibility for the test

Yes, an IIM admit is on your mind! But, you need to check if you qualify to take this test even before you can start preparing for it. The completion or near-completion of an under-graduate or professional degree is an absolute must-have for you to even think about the CAT exam.

If you fulfill either of these three criteria, you are eligible to take the test:

  • A completed Under-graduate/Bachelor’s degree in hand with the required* percentage of marks.
  • A completed professional degree (CA/CS/ICWA) in hand demonstrating the required* percentage of marks.
  • A student in the final year of your under-graduate degree expecting a mark-sheet with the required* percentage. In case you have completed your degree and are merely awaiting your results, you may also apply

 * The required percentage represents at least 50% marks or an equivalent CGPA. For SC/ST/candidates or candidates with disability, the bar is lower at 45%.

Refer here to understand eligibility more elaborately. Some categories of candidates are entitled to a reservation. You will find details of the reservations at the given link as well.

Step 2: Register for the test

Now that you know if you are eligible to go ahead and take the test, you must register yourself for the test! The registration window will open on the 8th of August, 2018 and will remain open till the 19th of September, 2018 (5:00 p.m.), so make sure you complete the process within that time. To register, you will have to visit the official CAT website, and fill out the application form (to be released on August 8th), which you will find under the Registration tab. Once registered, you will receive your test credentials- User ID and password, via email and SMS.

This year (2018), 147 cities (2 up from last time because of the addition of Mizoram and Nagaland) across India will have CAT exam centers. The test can only be taken at these centers. During registration, you will be asked to select 4 cities in order of preference for test administration. After the last date of registration, candidates will be allotted one among the four preferred cities as per availability. Usually, candidates are allotted their individual cities as per their selection, but if not (rarely so), you will be allotted a city nearby the preferred ones. Your final center will appear on your CAT admit card, which will be made available for download between 24th October, 2018 and 25th November, 2018.

There is a registration fee of Rs. 1900 involved. If you are an SC/ST/PwD Candidate, your fee will be Rs. 950.

Step 3: Prepare for the test

Now that you have registered yourself, and set your mind on the CAT, it’s time to prepare for the test!

Start by acquainting yourself with the CAT exam pattern, which has remained unchanged since last year.
Here’s what it looks like for CAT 2018 (3 topical sections and a total of 100 questions on the test!):


No. of MCQs

No. of Non-MCQs

Questions from each section

Total Marks

Time allotted to each section (minutes)

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)






Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DI & LR)






Quantitative Ability (QA)












The questions carry 3 marks each (+3). For each wrong answer, you will be marked in the negative (-1).

If you are part of the QS-LEAP community, you should already have access to free practice questions for each of these sections! As you practice these topics for free, know that we conduct free ONLINE CAT classrooms for you to attend as well. So if you feel the need to target and master specific topics within each of these sections, then register for our upcoming online classrooms through this link, to attend them all!

Step 4: Take the test!

25th November, 2018 is a Sunday! And the two exam slots have been facilitated to ensure that every registered candidate gets a seat (Yup, a lot of people register for this test!).

Note that the questions in both slots will differ in content and level of difficulty.

Slot-1 is a Morning Session (9AM to 12Noon) and Slot-2 an Afternoon Session (2:30 PM to 5:30PM).
So, yes, it is a 2 hour long test, comprising of three sections (as shown above).

You get 60 minutes to answer the questions in each section and you shall not be allowed to switch from one section to another when you are within one section. As specified above, some questions are MCQs (multiple-choice type) and some others are not (they demand direct answers and have to be typed into the screen). You may not carry your own calculator. You will be allowed the use of a basic on-screen calculator for computation.

17th October, 2018 onwards, a tutorial explaining the format of the test will be made available on the CAT website. You are advised to browse through the tutorials well in advance, to ensure time optimization on test day. On the 17th, the CAT mock test will also be released to familiarize candidates with the exam pattern, structure and test navigation. Note, however, that this mock test is meant for practice only and the questions should not be treated as sample questions that will ultimately resemble the questions on the actual exam.

If you’d like to start your practice right away, then sign up on to access your dashboard of free prep questions and mocks! The early bird is always the wise bird!

One day before your test, remember the following:

  • To check your admit card to ensure it’s printed on an A4 sized paper (keep a copy handy), and that you have your photograph pasted and your signature legibly signed on it.
  • To see if you have a valid proof of photo identification (either of these will do: College ID, Employer ID, Driving License, Passport, PAN Card, Voter ID, Aadhar Card, Identification Affidavit).
  • To check how far your Test Venue is, and what are your means of getting there. Factor in travel time when you plan the next day. You must arrive on (or even before) time. Ideally, you must be there 90 minutes before the commencement of the CAT exam.

Note that you are not allowed to carry mobile phones, electronic gadgets, watches, calculators, stationary items, papers, wallets and other valuables (no matter how valuable) inside the examination room. So please keep that in mind when you leave home to take the test. Anyone accompanying you on test day will also not be allowed inside.

The CAT website contains a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section that addresses some of the commonly asked queries regarding CAT 2018. Please browse through this section in advance to be at the top of your game. Beyond this, you may also contact the CAT help-desk over email or phone.

After your test, your CAT 2018 score card will be made accessible on the CAT website (typically by the second week of January 2019) to access, and you will be intimated about the same via SMS.

If, as the early (and very wise) bird, you wish to understand the IIM selection criteria right away, even before you take the CAT, then please refer to this document.

Hope this guide has helped! Further (detailed) information on CAT 2018 may be obtained from the CAT website.

You should now know what your next plan of action is. In case you have completed steps 1 and 2, as written in this guide, please proceed to begin your preparation for CAT 2018, QS-LEAP style! It really is completely free!

Sign up and create your free CAT study schedule now!

Happy prepping!

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