The IIM-CAT is an Aptitude Test. All aptitude tests check whether you have the potential to do a certain job or potential to handle a higher level academic course (MBA in this case).

The IIM-CAT checks whether you have the necessary intelligence, knowledge base,  attitude and the perception needed to handle and benefit from an academically challenging MBA program.

  1. Intelligence – Being an aptitude test, the IIM-CAT is an IQ test modified to the requirements of management education at a post-graduate level.
  2. Knowledge Base – The basic sense of Mathematics called Quantitative Aptitude and a basic sense of Language called Verbal Ability are tested. These two are not hardcore Math and English taught in schools and colleges, but have a completely different focus.
  3. Attitude & Perception – Your way of solving problems can have a bearing on your scores.

The four broadly tested areas on the IIM-CAT are :

  1. Verbal Ability
  2. Logical Reasoning
  3. Quantitative Ability
  4. Data Interpretation

These four areas do not denote the sections on the actual test. IIM-CAT, like any Aptitude Test has to unsettle a well prepared student so it needs an element of surprise and one of the biggest such elements of surprise are the number of sections on the exam, which become important because of the sectional cut-off which has to be cleared by a student, or else he gets rejected. The sections on the test can be 2 to 4 and these sections are made by combining the four tested areas – VA, QA, LR and DI.

  1. Verbal Ability – The verbal section of the IIM-CAT measures the test taker’s ability to read and comprehend written English, reason and evaluate arguments and correct written material to express ideas effectively in standard written English. The weightage of Verbal Ability can range between 25 to 40%. . The Verbal Ability questions focus on three broad areas – Critical Reading, Vocabulary and English Usage
Tested Subject Question Formats
Vocabulary One word Substitutions Verbal Analogy


Sentence Completion
English Usage Sentence Correction


Error IDs Parajumbles
Critical Reading Reading Comprehension Summary

1a. Vocabulary is a good indicator of language abilities of a candidate, so it is an important tested area. It is tested by questions in the following formats :

  1. One word Substitutions for a phrase
  2. Verbal Analogy
  3. Fill in the Blanks or Sentence Completion

The last time you worked on vocabulary must have been in class VII, when you referred to dictionaries, and mugged up meanings, synonyms and antonyms of words. Now, all that hard work will help you, if you have not gone rusty on your vocabulary.

Having a good vocabulary is a pre­requisite to cracking the IIM-CAT. A good mental lexicon is a function of extensive and wide reading habit. Memory based vocabulary built in a month does you no good in the IIM-CAT, or for that matter in any other exam.

A better vocabulary will help you not just in questions directly testing for vocabulary such as synonyms, antonyms, verbal analogy, Odd One Out, Sentence completions, etc but also increase your comfort level for Reading Comprehension, Para jumbles, Reasoning, etc.  However, there are ways to build up an effective vocabulary in shorter time span along with tricks for handling an alien word you have never seen before. Read on:

Building up your vocabu­lary is a slow and dreary process, especially if you are relying on a much touted word list. Even before you start working on a wordlist, how about dusting your dictionary or even investing in a better dictionary. A usage dictionary, which has not just meanings and synonyms but also a few sentences using the word in the right manner, becomes a de rigor.

Before we start, remember IIM-CAT tests you for contextual meanings of words as well as for the true dictionary meanings. The preparation would require a multi-pronged approach. Let’s start with some supererogatory word list. Unadulterated mugging up words and their meanings may be a drag so break the monotony with making a few sentences as well. Follow it up with using these new words in casual conversation you have with your friends. Once you have used a particular word in normal conversation in the right manner it will become etched up in your memory. Revising the word lists now is not mandatory though not prohibited also.

Moreover, while reading the newspapers, whenever you come across a word whose exact meaning you cannot write, check the Dictionary and in a separate notebook:

  1. Write down the word and its meaning.
  2. Write a sentence using the word in the right manner.
  3. Use the word in casual conversation.

Irrespective of how many words you add to your personal lexicon, we cannot rule out the appearance of a word in the test you have never come across. So you need to work around this problem by the Word-root approach. Every word is derived from certain roots say AMBIDEXTROUS is made from AMBI( two ) and DEXTRA(right hand or skill ). So if you are aware of the meaning of these two roots (ambi, dextra) then you can figure out the meaning of the word derived from them. AMBIDEXTROUS means someone with two right hands or who can use both hands with equal skill. You will need to learn the more common roots.

Mix n match these strategies and do your own thing but do refer to the dictionary at the slightest provocation.

In our courses, we have a cherry picked Lexicon with words, meanings, sentences, synonyms and antonyms. This is followed by Roots, a set of Vocabulary Drills that you need to work on yourself and finally an exercise of Verbal Analogy.

The exam has five question designs / formats based to test on vocabulary :

  1. One word Substitutions for a phrase
  2. Contextual or Usage meaning
  • Verbal Analogy
  1. Odd One Out
  1. One word Substitutions for a phrase – These questions require you to know the meanings of the four words given in the options and to figure out the contextual meaning of the underlined phrase.

Example of a Contextual or Usage meaning Vocabulary Question :

Directions for Q. 6 to 10: Choose from among the given alternatives the one which will be a suitable substitute for the underlined expression in each of the following :

  1. The body of Macedonian infantry drawn up in close order was like a formidable castle of steel.
  2. a) phalanx b) phagocyte    c) phenomenon                        d) phaeton
  3. Example of a Contextual or Usage meaning Vocabulary Question :

DIRECTIONS for questions: For the word given at the top of each table, match the dictionary definitions on the left (A, B, C, D) with their corresponding usage on the right (E, F, G, H). Out of the four possibilities given in the boxes below the table, select the one that has all the definitions and their usages correctly matched.

91. Exceed
Dictionary Definition Usage
A. To extend outside of, or enlarge beyond; used chiefly in strictly physical relations E. The mercy of god exceeds our finite minds.
B. To be greater than or superior to F. Their accomplishments exceeded our expectation
C. Be beyond the comprehension of G. He exceed his authority when he paid his brother’s gambling debts with money from the trust
D. To go beyond a limit set by (as an authority or privilege) H. If this rain keeps up, the river will exceed its banks by morning

Answer choices:

  1. A H             2.            A             H             3.            A             G             4.            A             F

B             F                              B             E                              B             F                              B             G

C             E                              C             F                              C             E                              C             H

D             G                             D             G                             D             H                             D             E

iii. Example of a Verbal Analogy Question :

Directions: Each of these questions has a pair of CAPITALISED words followed by four pairs of words. Choose the pair of words which best expresses the relationship similar to that in the capitalised pair.

  2. a) Nimbus : Cloud b) Instrument : Calibration
  3. c) Aircraft : Jet d) Climate : Rain
  4. Example of a Odd One Out Question :

Directions: Select that item which does not belong to the group.

  1. a) democracy b) voting                              c) monarchy                       d) dictatorship

1b. English Usage – English Usage check for the sense of English language, and a sense of English language is developed and tested at 4 sequential levels :

Level Skill Tested Question Types
1 Words Vocabulary Meanings, Synonyms, Antonyms, Verbal Analogy, Odd One Out
2 Sentence




English Usage,

Common Sense

Sentence Correction,

Error Identification,

Sentence Completion / FIB

3 Paragraph




Critical Reading,

Critical / Inferential Reasoning

4 Passage


Comprehension Reading Comprehension

English Usage is predominantly tested by grammar and sentence construction ability. Both of these abilities also require a certain amount of common sense to crack questions. The questions are in two formats – Sentence Correction, Error Identification and Sentence Completion / Fill in the blanks.

The exam has five question designs / formats based to test on English Usage :

  1. Sentence Correction
  2. Error Identification
  • Sentence Completion / Fill in the blanks / CLOZE
  1. Parajumbles / Para anagrams

i – Sentence Correction – Sentence Correction questions ask the test taker to determine if there is a mistake with a given sentence and if so, to determine the best way in which the sentence should be written according to requirements of standard written English, paying attention to grammar, word choice, and sentence construction. The best answer produces the most effective sentence; which makes the sentence clear, exact, and free of grammatical error. It should also have minimum awkwardness, ambiguity, and redundancy.

Sentence Correction is based to a large extent on English Grammar, the rules of sentence construction and common sense. To be good at Sentence Correction, you need to become perfect at Pronoun Usage, Modifiers, Subject-Verb-Agreement, Verb Tenses, Parallel Construction, Subjunctive Mood, Redundancy, etc. If you still make mistakes then preference order of grammar rules has to be learnt or certain nuances of Sentence Correction questions have to learnt, such as Meaning Modification, Clarity, Common Sense, etc.

Example of a Sentence Correction Question :

DIRECTIONS for question: Each of the sentence correction questions presents a sentence, part or all of which is underlined. Beneath the sentence you will find four ways of phrasing the underlined part. The first of these repeats the original; the other three are different. Follow the requirements of standard written English to choose your answer, paying attention to grammar, word choice, and sentence construction. Select the answer that produces the most effective sentence; your answer should make the sentence clear, exact, and free of grammatical error. It should also minimize awkwardness, ambiguity, and redundancy.

  1. Because the explorers had to travel across hostile lands, encountering weather, illness and injury is the reason why many were reluctant to make the journey.

(A)   Because the explorers had to travel across hostile lands, encountering weather, illness and injury is the reason why

(B)   Because the explorers had to travel across hostile lands, encountering weather, illness and injury,

(C)   Explorers had to travel across hostile lands, encountering weather, illness and injury and is the reason why

(D)   As a result of having to travel across hostile lands, encountering weather, illness and injury

  1. Error Identification – These questions give you a sentence underlined at four places and you are supposed to identify which underlined part has a grammatical error.

Example of an Error Identification Question :

DIRECTIONS for question: Each of following sentences has an incorrect numerical phrase or incorrect agreement (subject-verb, noun-pronoun, noun-noun, noun-article). Circle the error.

  1. Anjali tripped on hall carpet as she was running to answer the phone.

(a)            (b)                       (c)                      (d)

iii.           Sentence Completion / Fill in the Blanks / CLOZE

Sentence Completion Question can test you not only for your vocabulary but also for the ability of sentence construction, grammar and common sense.

Example of a Fill in the Blanks or Sentence Completion Question :

DIRECTIONS for question: In each of the following sentences, parts of the sentence are left blank. Beneath each sentence, four different ways of completing the sentence are indicated. Choose the best alternative from among the four.

  1. But ___________ are now regularly written to describe well-established practices, organisations and institutions, not all of which seem to be ________ away.
  2. reports, withering b. stories, trading c. books, dying     d. obituaries, fading
  3. Parajumbles / Para anagrams

Parajumble questions are based on a short paragraph having 4 to 6 sentences which are jumbled in their position and these jumbled sentences have to arranged in the right sequence.

Example of a Fill in the Blanks or Sentence Completion Question :

Directions: The questions below consist of a group of sentences followed by a suggested sequential arrangement. Select the best sequence.

  1. A. Then think of by how much our advertising could increase the sales level.
  2. Advertising effectiveness can be best grasped intuitively on a per capita basis.
  3. Overall effectiveness is easily calculated by considering the number of buyers and the cost of advertising.
  4. Think of how much of our brand the average individual is buying now.
  5. a) DCAB                b) DACB               c) BCDA                d) ABCD
  6. Reading Comprehension

Reading passages comprehension contain material from subject areas like social sciences, history, physical sciences, and business-related areas (marketing, economics, human resource management, etc.). Reading comprehension passages are accompanied by interpretive, applied, and inference questions. This section measures the following abilities:

  • Understanding words and statements in reading passages
  • Understanding the logical relationships between significant points and concepts in the reading passages
  • Drawing inferences from facts and statements in the reading passages
  • Understanding and following the development of quantitative concepts as they are presented in verbal material
  • Understanding the author’s point of view and their proposed arguments

Example of a Reading Comprehension Question :

Directions : Each of the reading comprehension questions is based on the content of a passage. After reading the passage answer all questions pertaining to it on the basis of what is stated or implied in the passage. For each question, select the best answer of the choices given.

Passage 5

In 1787, Jeremy Bentham published a lengthy pamphlet entitled, “Defence of Usury: Showing the policy of the Present Legal Restraints on the Terms of Pecuniary Bargains.” The pecuniary bargains he was concerned with were loans between individuals or business enterprises. The legal restraints were limits on interest rates paid or received. Usury was and is the popular term for charging interest rates in excess of legal limits.

Bentham makes an overwhelmingly persuasive case for the proposition he sets forth at the beginning of the pamphlet, “viz, that no man of ripe years and of sound mind, acting freely, and with his eyes open, ought to be hindered, with a view to his advantage from making such bargain, in the way of obtaining money, as he thinks fit: nor (what is necessary consequence) and body hindered from supplying him upon any terms he thinks proper to accede to.”

During the nearly two centuries since Bentham’s pamphlet was published, his arguments have been widely accepted by economists and as widely neglected by politicians. I know of no economist of any standing from that time to this who has favoured a legal limit on the rate of interest that borrowers could pay or lenders receive though there must have been some. I know of no country hat does not limit by law the rates of interest — and I doubt that there are any. As Bentham wrote, “In great political questions wide indeed is the distance between conviction and practice.”

Bentham’s explanation of the “grounds of the prejudices against usury” is as valid today as when he wrote: “The business of a money lender — has no where, nor at any time, been a popular one. Those who have the resolution to sacrifice the present to the future, are natural objects of envy to those who have sacrificed the future to the present. The children who have eaten their cake are the natural enemies of the children who have theirs. While the money is hoped for, and for a short time after it has been received, he who lends it is a friend and benefactor: by the time the money is spent, and the evil hour of reckoning is come, the benefactor is found to have changed his nature, and to have put on the tyrant and the oppressor. It is an oppression for a man to reclaim his money: it is none to keep it from him.”

Bentham’s explanation of the “mischief of the anti-usurious laws” is also as valid today as when he wrote that these laws preclude “many people altogether, from getting the money they stand in need of, to answer their respective exigencies.” For still others they render “the terms so much the worse — while, out of loving kindness, or whatsoever other motive, the law precludes the man from borrowing, upon terms which it deems too disadvantageous, it does not preclude him from selling, upon distress.”

Developments since Bentham’s day have increased the mischief done by usury legislation. Economic progress has provided the ordinary man with the means to save. The spread of banks, saving-and-loan associations, and the like has given the ordinary man the facilities for saving. For the first time in history, the working class may well be net lenders rather than net borrowers. They are also the ones who have fewest alternatives, who find it hardest to avoid legal regulations, and who are therefore hardest hit by them.

Under the spur of Wright Patman and his ilk, the Federal reserve now (1970) limits the interest rate that commercial banks may pay to a maximum of 4 percent for small savers but to 7 percent for deposits of $100,000 or more. And the deposits of small savers have been relatively stable or growing, while those of large depositors have been declining sharply because they have still better alternatives.

That is the way the self-labelled defenders of the “people” look after their interests — by keeping them from receiving the interests they are entitled to. Along with Bentham, “I would wish to learn why the legislator should be more anxious to limit the rate of interest one way, than the other? Why he should make it his business to prevent their getting more than a certain price for its use than to prevent their getting less? Let any one that can, find an answer to these question; it is more than I can do.”

  1. The author is making a case for
  2. a) varying interest rates on loans.
  3. b) withdrawing the legislation on usury.
  4. c) reducing the interest rate difference on large deposits as against small.
  5. d) ensuring that owners get interest rates, which are determined by free market operations.
  1. Logical reasoning – Our brain hoards up a lot of information. We collect nuggets of information by the help of our senses, personal experience and experiences of other’s. We make use of this information to arrive at some decisions regarding the course of action to be taken or to reach certain conclusions. We derive conclusions by correlating information, which is available at that time, and information, which is stored up in our mind. It is this process of correlating (connecting) information that endows us with power of reasoning. That is why – when we see a flowerpot falling on our head; we conclude that we need to move away from its path. Obviously the inference, which we drew, is based upon the information stored in our mind. At times, we may not be able to correlate the information properly and so our conclusions may be erroneous. Apart from this, even the information may not have been factually correct or our senses may not have been able to comprehend the information properly. But our success lies in arriving at correct inferences. Logic helps us in determining whether the conclusion drawn is valid or not. Logic furnishes us with rules, which are based upon perfect common sense. To be honest (just for a change), Common sense is pretty rare.

Logic is the science of valid reasoning. But even before we apply the rules to a particular argument:

  • It is necessary to understand the correct meaning of that argument.
  • It is necessary to understand the implied meaning of that argument,

In other words comprehending the obvious and the implied meanings of the sentences is the basic requisite for understanding the arguments properly.

Logical reasoning is not so much concerned with the psychological process of reasoning as with the ideas expressed through words. Sometimes an inference may be given and we are asked to find out the premises on the basis of which that inference can be drawn. In order to test this type of reasoning different types of questions are designed or formatted. It is to check whether a particular person is able to argue properly or not. The faculty to argue, or rationalize is a positive and desirable quality, particularly in managers, because they are supposed to take decisions which may affect the revenue of organization and a large number of people.

The following types of questions are formatted on the IIM-CAT and other Indian B.School exams to test your reasoning skills:

  1. Logical Consistency-Relation of two events is provided and you are supposed to find out a set of two sentences, in which the second logically follows the first one.
  2. Logical Deduction -Correlating information in case relationship among the different units of thought is established in a particular manner. It is not like syllogisms, but here also inference is to be derived on the basis of information given. Moreover the questionnaire may also have certain questions based on inductive logic.
  3. Syllogism- Inference is derived from two statements on the basis of strict rules.
  4. Critical or Inferential Reasoning-This real brainteaser has questions asking you to identify assumptions, find strengthening or weakening answer choices, infer, draw a parallel, solve paradoxical information, or evaluate the given arguments while keeping an eye on fallacies.

2a.   Logical Consistency – Logical Consistency is a regular feature of CAT. Only sixteen standard types of questions can figure in logical consistency, mastering which seems to be easy but scope of making errors is pretty wide unless and until a student is wary about rules.

Giving you a main statement followed by four statements formats questions in Logical Consistency. You have to pick a combination of two of these four statements, which are logically correct and are consistent with the information provided by the given main statement.

The trick is to find a set of two sentences, such that if we speak the first one, the second one should automatically follow it.

Example of a Logical Consistency Question :

Direction: The questions below have a main statement followed by four statements labeled A, B, C and D. Choose the ordered pair of statements where the first statement implies the second and the two statements are logically consistent with the main statement.

  1. Vinay is in the class when Harsh is in the lab.
  2. Harsh is in the lab.
  3. Vinay is in the park.
  4. Harsh is not in the lab.
  5. Vinay is in the class.
  1. a) CA b) AD c) BC                d) BD

2b.      Deductive Logic  – Although 5 types of reasoning can be tested but only  deductive and inductive logic has appeared on the tests. Abductive, analogical and fallacious reasoning is not tested. Deductive and inductive logic test a student for the ability to critically evaluate given information and reach valid conclusions. B.School entrance exams have two formats of deductive / inductive logic questions.

TYPE A –   Here a set of 6 statements is given followed by four-answer choices. Each of the answer choice has a combination of three statements from the given set of 6 statements.

You are required to identify the answer choice in which the statements are logically sequenced and related. : Example

  1. Ron is a Britisher.
  2. Ron does not like Lionel.
  3. All Britishers like to eat pasta.
  4. Ron and Olive are friends
  5. Ron likes to eat pasta
  6. Olive goes to the Lionel’s shop
  7. ABD                 b. DEF
  8. ACE d. BCF

TYPE B – Here four sets of three sentences each are given. Each of the sets has a combination of three statements.

You would have to identify whether the three sentences in each of these sets are logically related. Example:

  1. Most birds fly; This is a bird; The chance of this bird flying are high
  2. Soldiers need guts; I am a soldier; I need guts
  3. Singers are winners; Winners are happy; Some happy are singers.
  4. She eats neither spinach nor beans; She ate spinach; She did not eat beans.
  5. A & D b. A & B
  6. B, C & D d. B & D

2c. Syllogism or Mediate Conclusions –

Questions that technically qualify as a syllogism or a mediate conclusion questions have not appeared on the test, though knowledge of syllogisms is needed to crack the deductive logic questions where knowledge of syllogism and fallacies may be needed. Moreover the sharpening of reasoning facilitated by practicing syllogisms is important for Critical Reasoning questions.

2d. Critical or Inferential Reasoning

Critical reasoning questions are designed to test the reasoning skills involved in making arguments, evaluating arguments, and formulating or evaluating a plan of action. Questions are based on materials from a variety of sources. This section measures the following abilities:

  • Argument construction
  • Argument evaluation
  • Formulating and evaluating a plan of action

You should get comfortable with the 8 broad types of questions that appear on the tests :

  1. Assumption
  2. Weaken the argument
  • Strengthen the argument
  1. Evaluate the argument
  2. Inference
  3. Paradox
  • Identify the Reasoning or Bold-Face
  • Parallel the Reasoning

Example of a Critical Reasoning Question :

Directions : Each of the critical reasoning questions is based on a short argument, a set of statements, or a plan of action. For each question, select the best answer of the choices given.

  1. A courier has two possible routes to take for a certain delivery. One route is significantly shorter, in miles, but the speed limit along that route is much lower. The courier determines that it will take a shorter amount of time to drive the longer route.

Which of the following is an assumption on which the courier’s conclusion depends?

(a)    The proportional difference in miles between the two routes is more than made up for by the proportional difference in speed limits.

(b)   The courier’s vehicle gets better gas mileage than do most vehicles.

(c)    The courier prefers to drive more direct routes with fewer stop lights.

(d)   The courier would not drive over the speed limit on either route.

  1. Quantitative Ability – The quantitative section of the IIM-CAT measures the ability to reason quantitatively, solve quantitative problems, interpret graphic data, and analyze and use information given in a problem. The use of calculators is not allowed on the quantitative section of the IIM-CAT. Questions require knowledge of topics such as arithmetic, algebra, and geometry. Quantitative section questions are designed to test the ability to reason quantitatively and solve quantitative problems.

Example of an Problem Solving Question :

  1. Let k be a positive integer such that k + 4 is divisible by 7. Then the smallest positive integer n, greater than 2, such that k + 2n is divisible by 7 equals.
  2. a) 9 b) 7                        c) 5                         d) 3

Data sufficiency is a unique question type that appears on the IIM-CAT and is designed to measure the ability to understand and analyze a quantitative problem, recognize what information is relevant or irrelevant and determine at what point there is enough information to solve a problem or recognize the fact that there is insufficient information given to solve a particular problem.

Example of an Data Sufficiency Question :

Directions: Each of these items has a question followed by two statements.

Mark a, if the question can be answered with the help of statement I alone.

Mark b, if the question can be answered with the help of statement II alone.

Mark c, if both, statement I and statement II are needed to answer the question, and

Mark d, if the question cannot be answered even with the help of both the statements.


  1. What is the area under the line GHI-JKL in the following diagram? (small squares are of same area).

P                        E      Q

C           D

A                B

G                H              K       L

O              I        J    R

  1. Length ABCDEQ is greater than or equal to 60.
  2. Area OPQR is less than or equal to 1512.


The level of difficulty of the Math component is the common level to which all students have studied Math, so the level is Class X – CBSE, though questions do not require derivations and proving theorems.

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