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Home » GMAT vs CAT: A Comparative Analysis for MBA Aspirants

GMAT vs CAT: A Comparative Analysis for MBA Aspirants

gmat vs cat

In the fiercely competitive realm of business education, two heavyweight entrance exams, the GMAT and CAT, have been locked in a perpetual showdown. As aspiring students embark on their journey to secure a seat in a prestigious business school, the most daunting question is GMAT vs CAT – which is better?

Two standardized exams, the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and the Common Admission Test (CAT), assess the aptitude and potential of individuals. It’s for those who are seeking admission to prestigious business schools. While both tests serve a similar purpose, they have distinct characteristics that set them apart.

Whether you envision yourself pursuing an MBA in a renowned international business school or seeking admission to India’s prestigious Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), making an informed decision about the right entrance exam is crucial. The GMAT and CAT highly respect assessments, and your choice of the one that suits your strengths and goals will significantly impact your chances of securing a coveted seat in your desired institution.

So, whether you’re contemplating a career in finance, marketing, consulting, or any other business domain, join us as we embark on this exhilarating journey of GMAT vs. CAT, and pave the way to a successful future in the dynamic world of business education. Let’s dive in! But before that, you need to understand…

What’s GMAT & CAT?

CAT and GMAT are renowned entrance exams for MBA programs, accepted by top business schools worldwide, including the prestigious IIMs. While other MBA entrance exams in India are similar to CAT, GMAT stands apart and necessitates exclusive preparation.

The key distinction lies in their scope: CAT is a domestic exam, while GMAT is a global test valid for admission to business schools worldwide. The Graduate Management Admission Council administers GMAT, with Indian B-schools mostly considering it for NRI/Foreign students. However, select Indian institutes like SPJIMR, XLRI Jamshedpur, and MDI Gurgaon also accept GMAT scores from domestic candidates. Top MBA colleges, including the IIMs, recognize GMAT scores for Executive MBA and FPM programs.

Both CAT and GMAT pose considerable challenges. Each year, over two lakh students in India, take the CAT exam, while an equivalent number of aspirants undertake GMAT. Many candidates fail to achieve their desired scores in their initial attempts for both exams. Domestic candidates aiming for management studies can opt to take both exams or choose based on their target MBA course and institute. Although CAT and GMAT evaluate English language proficiency, quantitative ability, and logical reasoning, they differ significantly in various aspects. This blog provides insights into the disparities between the GMAT and CAT exams.

Also, read: CAT exam

Difference between GMAT & CAT

So, what are the factors that differentiate between GMAT & CAT? There are many factors and some of them are:

  • Who can enroll for it?
  • Exam Conducting Body
  • Eligibility criteria
  • Frequency /Mode of Exam
  • Exam Pattern
  • Exam Syllabus
  • Exam Duration
  • Sectional time limit
  • Difficulty Level
  • Marking Scheme
  • Exam Fee
  • Validity of Exam Score
  • Which is easier GMAT or CAT?

Let’s understand & choose between GMAT vs CAT:

Who can enroll for it?

GMAT is open to individuals seeking admission to graduate management programs, including MBA, globally.

CAT is specifically for individuals aiming to pursue MBA programs in India, primarily accepted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and other business schools.

Exam Conducting Body

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), an international non-profit organization, conducts the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT).

The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) in India conduct the Common Admission Test (CAT).

Eligibility Criteria

There are no specific eligibility criteria for GMAT. However, individual business schools may have their eligibility requirements for admission.

To be eligible for CAT, candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree with a minimum percentage specified by the participating institutes. The percentage requirement varies among different categories (general, OBC, SC/ST).

Frequency/Mode of Exam

Candidates can choose their preferred exam date for GMAT, and they can take the computer-based test at designated test centers throughout the year.

The CAT test is conducted once a year, typically in November or December. It is also a computer-based test held at designated test centers across India.

Exam Pattern

The GMAT consists of four sections: Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), Integrated Reasoning (IR), Quantitative Reasoning (QR), and Verbal Reasoning (VR).

The CAT comprises three sections: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Ability (QA).

Exam Syllabus

The GMAT syllabus includes analytical writing, integrated reasoning, arithmetic, algebra, geometry, critical reasoning, reading comprehension, and sentence correction.

The CAT syllabus covers topics such as English language skills, reading comprehension, logical reasoning, data interpretation, quantitative aptitude, and problem-solving.

Exam Duration

The total duration of the GMAT is approximately 3 hours and 7 minutes.

The total duration of the CAT is 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Sectional Time Limit

There are no specific time limits for each section in GMAT. However, the total time for all sections must be completed within the overall exam duration.

CAT has a sectional time limit of 60 minutes for each section.

GMAT vs CAT Difficulty Level

The GMAT is known for its adaptive nature, where the difficulty level of subsequent questions depends on the performance of previous questions.

CAT is also adaptive, with questions becoming progressively difficult based on the candidate’s responses.

Marking Scheme

The GMAT uses a computer-adaptive scoring algorithm, and the final score is based on the number of correct answers and the difficulty level of those questions.

CAT follows a scaled score system, considering both correct and incorrect answers. It also incorporates negative markings for incorrect responses.

Exam Fee

The registration fee for GMAT is approximately USD 250.

The registration fee for CAT is around INR 2,000 to INR 2,500 for general category candidates and slightly lower for reserved category candidates.

Validity of Exam Score

GMAT scores are valid for five years.

CAT scores are usually valid for one year, and they are applicable for admission to various management programs in India.

Which is easier GMAT or CAT?

While both exams require preparation and dedication, the GMAT is generally considered slightly easier than the CAT due to its standardized structure and availability of resources.

The GMAT primarily focuses on assessing analytical and critical thinking skills, along with verbal and quantitative aptitude. It tests a candidate’s ability to reason and make logical deductions. The exam structure is standardized, and there are ample resources available for preparation, making it relatively easier to understand and strategize for the GMAT.

On the other hand, the CAT is a highly competitive entrance exam for admission to top business schools in India. It is known for its rigorous and challenging nature. CAT tests a candidate’s aptitude in multiple areas, including mathematics, data interpretation, logical reasoning, and verbal ability. The CAT exam pattern is dynamic, and the difficulty level can be quite high, requiring thorough preparation and extensive practice.

GMAT vs CAT: Which is Better?

The debate between GMAT vs CAT revolves around which is better for assessing a candidate’s aptitude for business school. While both tests serve their purpose, the choice ultimately depends on individual preferences and goals. The GMAT is recognized globally and is widely accepted by international business schools, making it ideal for those seeking global opportunities.

On the other hand, CAT is primarily used by Indian business schools, catering to candidates interested in pursuing management education within the country. Ultimately, the better option is subjective, as each test aligns with different needs and aspirations, emphasizing the importance of understanding one’s objectives before making a decision.

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Also, read:

  1. GMAT Exam Paper Pattern
  2. GMAT Exam Pattern
  3. Crack MBA Entrance Exams
  4. GMAT vs GRE
  5. GMAT Score Validity
  6. Crack MBA entrance exams


Which test should I take, GMAT or CAT?

The choice depends on your aspirations and target universities. If you are planning to apply to international business schools, GMAT is more suitable. If you aim for Indian B-schools, CAT is the preferred exam.

Are GMAT and CAT interchangeable?

No, GMAT and CAT are not interchangeable. While some Indian B-schools may accept GMAT scores, it is important to check with individual institutions for their specific requirements.

Can I take both GMAT and CAT?

Yes, you can take both exams if you wish to keep your options open for both international and Indian B-schools. However, it is essential to prepare adequately for each test as they have distinct formats and question types.

Can I prepare for GMAT and CAT simultaneously?

It is possible to prepare for both exams simultaneously, but it requires careful planning and efficient time management. Since the exams have different structures, it is crucial to develop a study plan that accommodates the unique demands of each test.

Are there any other entrance exams similar to GMAT and CAT?

Yes, other exams like GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and XAT (Xavier Aptitude Test) are accepted by certain business schools for their admissions. It is advisable to research the specific requirements of your target institutions.

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