GMAT vs CAT: Which is the best for MBA?

Source: linguamarina

Nowadays, the most common question that comes to every Indian students’ mind is, whether to pursue MBA in India or Abroad? When the student isn’t even settled with the first question, he starts to worry about giving the GMAT or the CAT or both? How to prepare for CAT and GMAT simultaneously and What is the difference between CAT and GMAT Syllabus? So, how does one go about with these two MBA dilemmas? To answer the first one, refer to The Big Dilemma. For the second question, here is a detailed analysis and comparison of CAT Percentile versus the GMAT Score.


Basis of DifferenceGMATCAT
Conducting BodyConducted by GMAC and is accepted universally for MBA and finance programs in all leading universities. Several Indian B-Schools have now started considering the GMAT for admissions. No such cut off rule. You score should match the university requirements.


Conducted by IIMs across India and is accepted by mostly Indian B-Schools.
Number of AttemptsYou can give GMAT five times, each at a gap of 16 daysYou can appear for the test only once a year.
Pattern ChoiceSection selection choice offered.


One section pattern followed.
Test Fee$ 250= INR 16705INR 1600
ScoresGMAT Verbal and Quant Section scores can be known after the test. The official result takes up to three week’s time.One fixed date for results.
ValidityGMAT scores are valid for five years.


CAT scores are valid for only one year
AcceptabilityAccepted in India as well as abroad (USA, UK, Singapore, etc.)Accepted in India, mainly for IIMs.
Skills testedAnalytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative and Verbal AbilityQuantitative Aptitude, Data Interpretation, Logical Reasoning and Verbal Ability.
Test Duration210 Minutes180 minutes
Selection ProcessGMAT score requirements differ with countries and universities.CAT test cutoff, followed by Group Discussion or Writing Test and Personal Interview, another cut off and then the admission list comes out.

GMAT Preparation: How to Do it the Right Way

What is GMAT?

Graduate Management Admission Test or commonly known as GMAT, is an aptitude test conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council, also known as GMAC. GMAT is the qualifying test for admissions at 7,000 programs in approximately 2,300 graduate business schools all over the world. Applicants of courses such as MBA, Masters of Accounting, Master’s of Finance, etc have to give the GMAT test for admission into the course.

GMAT USA Score and Universities

GMAT Scores, Validity and Eligibility

The GMAT score ranges from 200-500, with each point given on an increment of 10. The overall score, as well as individual section scores, are taken into consideration by the universities. The GMAT exam score is valid for five years and can be taken multiple times in a year.

All students eyeing admissions into the graduate management programs in B-schools all over the world, including the top B-schools of India as well, can give the GMAT test. There are no such eligibility criteria for GMAT but, the GMAT itself is one of the key criteria to be fulfilled in order to get admissions into the management programs. Leading schools such as Stanford Graduate School of Business (740), Harvard Business School (730), Wharton (728) and the London School of Economics (700) require a great GMAT score along with a great academic, work and extracurricular record of the applicant.

What is the GMAT Exam and Selection Pattern?

The GMAT is patterned to test logic, composition, quantitative and verbal reasoning in English. The paper is 3.5 hours long and spans across 4 sections, namely,

  1. Analytical Writing– 1 essay in 30 minutes.
  2. Verbal Reasoning– 35 questions in 65 minutes.
  3. Quantitative Reasoning-31 questions in 62 minutes.
  4. Integrated Reasoning–  12 questions in 30 minutes.

It is a computer-based test with different types of questions, such as MCQs, essays, mathematics, etc. All this is done for use in the admission process to a graduate administration program, such as an MBA. It requires information of certain particular sentence structure and variable-based math, geometry, and number juggling.

GMAT Essays

Is GMAT Tough to Crack?

Nowadays, the students have the choice to make a selection of the order in which they want to answer the sections. In fact, in the beginning, the questions posed are of moderate difficulty, which if answered correctly lead to more difficult questions, that carry greater marks. However, if you are unable to answer those questions, then you get answers of decreasing difficulty. Read here for GMAT Time Management.

What is CAT?

Common Admission Test or CAT, as it is commonly called, is an Indian test designed as an entrance exam into business management course, all across the country. With a specific aim to get into Indian Institutes of Management (IIM), be it any campus, you need to appear for the CAT and meet all its cut-offs. The CAT exam helps fill more than 5000 seats in all the 20 IIMs for over 50 programs in India. In addition, several others such as MS Delhi, SPJIMR Mumbai, JBIMS Mumbai, MDI Gurgaon, IITs, IMT, IMI, XIMB, TAPMI, etc accept the CAT score for admissions.

The exam is conducted by a different IIM once each year, with TCS as the test-taking company. It follows the rule of rotation, wherein each campus has to hold the test, so all the burden does not fall on one. In fact, since the year 2012, even the IITs and IISCs have given prominence to the CAT score for admissions.

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CAT Scores, Validity and Eligibility

The test is scored on a rate of -100 to 300. The CAT test scores are valid for one year. This means that you can utilize the CAT score to get into the batch of that very year in which you gave the test. The CAT exam is held across 354 centers in 99 cities and towns of India.

All final year students, that is those giving the final exams for their respective Bachelor’s courses who intend to do an MBA or related course, can give the exam. Apart from this, those who have qualified their Completed professional degree (CA/CS/ICWA) can also apply. For this, the eligibility criteria are to have at least 50% or an equivalent GPA in the Bachelor’s course.

Note, that the CAT registration for 2018, will open in the first week of August 2018. In order to apply for CAT, you need to fill in the online form and pay the fee. For the admit card, you can log in on to the website and get it. Make sure you don’t forget to carry it to the test center on the test date. Register for CAT here.  

The CAT fee is as follows,

-US$28 or INR 1800, for Unreserved candidates.
-US$14 or INR 900, for Reserved categories such as SC,ST,DA (PWD).

What is the CAT Exam and Selection Pattern?

The CAT exam is based on three main sections f 60 minutes each, which are,

  1. Quantitative Ability (QA)– 34 Questions and can fetch a total of 102 marks.
  2. Verbal Ability (VA) and Reading Comprehension (RC)– 34 Questions and can fetch a total of 96 marks.
  3. Data Interpretation (DI) and Logical Reasoning (LR)– 32 Questions and can fetch a total of 102 marks.

The exam is 3 hours long and has a total of 100 questions. The CAT questions for all sections have a moderate to difficult levels. Each correct answer is awarded 3 marks. There is negative marking for only 75 questions (out of 100) of 1 for each wrong answer. The test day is always a Sunday, usually between the months of November and December. There are either morning or evening test sessions. It is a computer-based test, wherein the candidate will see the questions and options for answers on the computer and select accordingly. In order to qualify the cut-off, you need to have a high score in each of the three sections.

Best B-Schools in USA, Without GMAT

Once you are through with the test, a cut off based on the scores of the three sections is taken out. If you qualify for that, you are called for a Group Discussion and a Personal Interview. Nowadays, most of the IIMs prefer the Written Ability Test over the Group Discussion as a criterion for selection, along with the Personal Interview. Then, again a selection list is taken out and if you qualify, you get admission.


What to choose, GMAT or CAT?

There will still be some students who would wonder, CAT vs MAT vs GMAT or GMAT vs CAT vs GRE? Or some would simply be interested in knowing CAT or GMAT, which is easier and what is the difference between CAT and GMAT syllabus?

While both the tests, GMAT, and CAT serve the same purpose, that is admissions at B-Schools and their management programs, it is up to your intended college’s requirements to choose. One intelligent route to choose is to prepare for both GMAT and CAT. How to Prepare for CAT and GMAT together?  If you wish to head on to a managerial position from the very start of your working career, then you should give CAT a shot as it is the ideal for you. On the other hand, if you wish to see yourself as a working professional, then GMAT is the best suited for you. Apart from this, choose according to your country of study, now that GMAT is accepted in India as well, it might be useful to give the GMAT.

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