Design Aptitude Test (DAT): Overview, Questions, Preparation

Design Aptitude Test 2021 ( Design Aptitude Test (DAT) )

Shikha Anand

Shikha AnandManager - Content

Updated on Aug 23, 2021 02:13 IST

DAT preparation is not something that can be mastered overnight. You need consistent practice for at least six months and out-of-the-box thinking in order to be able to crack the section. Let us understand all the nuances of the Design Aptitude Test with respect to what is DAT, the type of questions asked, preparation tips, practice questions and more.

Table of Contents
  1. What is DAT?
  2. DAT – Types of Questions
  3. How to Prepare for Design DAT?
  4. DAT Syllabus & Pattern for Design Entrance Exams
  5. Design DAT Practice Questions
  6. Important FAQs on DAT

What is DAT?

Design Aptitude Test (DAT) is one of the most important sections in a Design entrance exam. The test contains different types of drawing, sketching and model making questions that test the design and creative ability of candidates.  

The DAT section of Design entrance exams may have different names, such as Creative Ability Test (CAT) in NIFT Entrance Exam and NID DAT Mains in NID Entrance Exam. However, the objective of the questions is the same – to test candidates on their designing capabilities.

DAT – Types of Questions

There are typically two types of questions asked in a Design Aptitude Test as explained below:

Drawing/Sketching Test

Here, you need to draw or sketch on the given paper as per the details given in the question. Thereafter, you also sometimes need to explain the drawing/sketching done in writing. For example:

  1. Based on the theme, ‘Music is the Soul of Life’, design and colour a print for a T-shirt.
  2. Imagine and draw a real life situation, which represents “All that is gold does not glitter’’, in a meaningful way. Use the space given to draw and explain your interpretation in 5 lines. No colour to be used.

Situation Test

The Situation Test is a practical exam, which tests you on your creative and innovative use of given material. In a Design Situation Test, you are generally given some material such as ivory sheets, coloured papers, thermocol, clay and cardboard. Thereafter, you need to create a 3D model as per the specifications given in the question. For example:

  • Design a headgear inspired by a mythological character
  • Design a diary for a fashion designer
  • Design kids' play area inspired by puzzles

Once constructed, you also need to write about your model, explaining how you got inspired for it, how you made use of the given material, etc.  

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How to Prepare for Design DAT?

There is no straight formula to ace the Design Aptitude Test, as there is no right or wrong answer. However, you must evolve into an artist and have the passion for your art. Apart from that, consistent practice is the key to keep honing your skills for the exam.     

You must keep observing what is around you and try to retain it in your memory by gaining more information and through thorough practice. Some of the tips to keep in mind while preparing for DAT section of Design entrance exams include:

  • Observe everything around you such as leaves, tables, chairs and cars and try to take inspiration from it
  • Try to think out-of-the-box and sketch depicting the mood, look and feel of the given item
  • Every day, take a common object and list various other uses for it. It will help you look at objects differently and help you be more creative.
  • Focus on honing your technical skills related to 3D sense, proportion, detailing, perspective, space design, etc.
  • Read up on paper folding and origami. This may help you create more variety of things.
  • Practice as many previous year DAT and situation test questions as possible
  • While drawing, sketching or making a model, try to time yourself and complete it within a given duration only. Usually, 90-120 minutes duration is enough to complete a DAT question.   

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Skills Tested in DAT

In a Design Aptitude Test, candidates are generally evaluated on the skillset given in the table below. Therefore, during practice of DAT questions, it is important that you focus on improving the following skills.  

DAT Skills

Intuition skills

Observation skills

Design ability

Innovative use of colour

Illustration skills



Imaginative skills

Visualization skills

Analytical skills

Problem-solving skills

Communication skills

Presentation skills

Space Visualization

Composition of elements

Colour scheme

Proportion, perspective, shading and composition

DAT Syllabus & Pattern for Design Entrance Exams

Check out the overview of DAT syllabus and pattern for top Design entrance exams in India below.

Design Exams

DAT Pattern

DAT Syllabus

NIFT Entrance Exam


  • No. of questions – 3
  • Type of questions – Drawing questions
  • Duration – 3 hours
  • Total marks – 100
  • Mode of exam – Offline


NIFT Situation Test

  • Type of question – Model making followed by a write-up explaining the concept/idea behind the model 
  • Design Theory
  • Colour Psychology & Optical Illusions
  • Principles of Composition
  • Colour, Pattern & Texture
  • Picture Analysis
  • Ornaments & motifs
  • Foreshortening & Perspective
  • Usage of Colour in Compositions
  • 3D Visualisation
  • Graphics & Pictograms
  • Memory Drawing
  • Theme Development

NID Entrance Exam


  • Type of questions – Drawing/sketching/model making questions
  • Duration – 3 hours
  • Total marks – 100
  • Mode of exam – Offline (online in COVID times)
  • Natural & Geometrical Form
  • Elements & Principles Of Design
  • Principles of Composition
  • Understanding Light & Shade
  • Colour, Pattern & Texture
  • Picture Analysis
  • Optical Illusion
  • Memory Drawing
  • Graphics & Pictograms



  • No. of questions – 1
  • Type of questions – Drawing question
  • Duration – 30 minutes
  • Total marks – 60
  • Mode of exam – Offline

Understanding of proportion,  perspective, shading and composition



  • No. of questions – 5
  • Type of questions – Drawing questions
  • Duration – 2 hours
  • Total marks – 100
  • Mode of exam – Offline
  • Sketching
  • Creativity 
  • Form Sensitivity
  • Visual Sensitivity
  • Problem Identification

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Design DAT Practice Questions

Listed below are the some practice questions for DAT section (drawing/sketching questions and model making questions) of Design entrance exams.

Drawing/sketching questions for practice

Q1. Convert the given punctuation marks into realistic objects using pencil.

Q1. Convert the given punctuation marks into realistic objects using pencil.
Convert the given punctuation marks into realistic objects using pencil.

Q2. Explain the working principle of a matchbox.

Q3. Choose any one pair of opposites and depict them through pictorial representation in the boxes given below. Also, write the captions.

  1. a) Crispy and soggy
  2. b) Cluttered and uncluttered
  3. c) Balanced and unbalanced

Q4. Draw a person sitting at a dining table with a plate, stainless steel spoon and fork laid out in front of him/her. Do not use colour.

Q5. Image of a kid’s water bottle is shown below. Visualise a lunch box to pair with it. It should be matching in design language with relevant details. Sketch and render the bottle and the lunch box with required graphics.

Design DAT question

Q6. You are sitting in a well-ventilated drawing room. It is 9:00 in the morning and sun light is streaming through the window on the East casting shadows on the floor. A cat is resting on one of the sunlit patches. A newspaper is placed beside a cup of hot tea on a small side table. There are three freshly watered potted plants in the room; one on the floor and two on the windowsill with the watering jug next to it. From the above description, sketch the scene from your point of view.

Model making questions for practice

Q1. Design an equipment bag for any one:

  1. a) Painter
  2. b) Makeup artist
  3. c) Photographer

Q2. Design a modern display unit for any one:

  1. a) Fruits and vegetables shop
  2. b) Toy shop
  3. c) Cosmetics and perfume shop

Q3. Design a scene for any one option:

  1. a) Ramayana or a folk tale
  2. b) A fairy tale
  3. c) A Panchatantra story

Q4. Make a Dhaba keeping in mind the local culture.

Q5. Show a kitchen according to family's lifestyle.

Important FAQs on DAT

Q. What is Design aptitude?

A. Design Aptitude is a test that is a part of most of the Design entrance exams in India. Through this test, the Design schools test the designing and creative ability of candidates.

Q. What type of questions are asked in DAT?

A. In a Design Aptitude Test, candidates are asked drawing, sketching and model-making questions.

Q. How to prepare for a Situation Test?

A. Follow the below tips to prepare for a Design Situation Test:
  • Keep a strong observation of things around you
  • Try to list out various out-of-the-box uses of the common objects such as rubber, fan, pencil, etc.
  • Practice handling all types of craft material
  • Some of the material that can be used for practice include cardboard, glaze papers, thermocol, aluminium foil, foam, cotton, beads, etc.

Q. What is the weightage for Design Aptitude Tests?

A. The weightage for DAT varies as per the different Design entrance exams. Given below is the DAT weightage for popular Design entrance exams:
  • NIFT Entrance Exam: 70% (50% CAT + 20% Situation Test)
  • NID Entrance Exam: 50% (100 marks)
  • UCEED: 30% (60 marks)
  • CEED: 50% (100 marks)

Q. What skills are tested in a Design Aptitude Test?

A. Some of the skills of candidates that are tested in DAT include:
  • Design ability
  • Observation skills
  • Illustration skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Imaginative skills
  • Space Visualization


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