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GMAT VS CAT – which is more advantageous & how to crack both


Are you confused between GMAT and CAT? This blog will solve your confusion. Both the Common Admission Test (CAT) and the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) are two of the most popular management admission exams, with scores accepted by all of the major B-schools including the IIMs. However, the main difference between the GMAT and the CAT is that the GMAT is a global exam that is accepted by over 2000 business schools and 7000 MBA programmes around the world. In contrast, the CAT is a national level exam that Indian business schools accept. As a result, picking between the GMAT and the CAT, which both serve as a stepping stone to gaining admission to an MBA programme, is a difficulty faced by a large number of Indian MBA aspirants.

GMAT scores, which the Graduate Management Admission Council administers, are typically accepted by NRI/international students in India. Some prominent Indian universities, such as SPJIMR in Mumbai, XLRI in Jamshedpur, and MDI in Gurgaon, accept GMAT scores from domestic applicants. For admission to Executive MBA programmes in India, most universities accept GMAT scores.

What is GMAT?

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a computer-adaptive test used to evaluate analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for admission to graduate management programs, such as an MBA programme. It necessitates a thorough understanding of specific language as well as precise algebra, geometry, and arithmetic.

What is GMAT?

What is CAT?

The Common Admission Test (CAT) is a computer-based exam for graduate management programs admissions. The test is divided into three sections: VARC (Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension), DILR (Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning), and QA (Quantitative Ability). The exam is three hours long, with one hour dedicated to each section.

This exam was created by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), who use it to select students for their business administration programmes (MBA or PGDM). The test is administered annually by one of the IIMs in line with a rotational procedure.


1. GMAT vs CAT Exam Format

1.	GMAT vs CAT Exam Format

MCQs from Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Integrated Reasoning, as well as an Analytical Writing section, make up the GMAT question paper. Although each question has a time limit, the candidate can choose the sequence in which they answer each section. 

The CAT exam is held in online mode for three hours in two slots on a scheduled date. Candidates are forced to follow the question paper’s chronology, which means they cannot choose which section to answer or go back to an incomplete question they skipped previously. In addition, the CAT exam includes a high level of questions like multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and a few key-in answer questions.


2. GMAT vs CAT Duration

 2.	GMAT vs CAT Duration

The GMAT exam lasts 187 minutes. The GMAT is available all year, and applicants can pick an exam window from the calendar at any time. Within a 12-month period, the applicant can retake the exam five times. Thus, a candidate is given a total of eight permissible attempts in his or her lifetime.

The CAT lasts 180 minutes. The IIM only conducts the CAT once a year. The CAT exam is held in the last week of November or the first week of December, and the application process begins in August.


3. GMAT score vs CAT percentile validity


 3.	GMAT score vs CAT percentile validity

From the date of your test, your GMAT score is valid for five years. This is because GMAC (the company that administers the GMAT) believes your reasoning skills and abilities will not deteriorate significantly over the next five years. On the other hand, business schools may have their own policies regarding the score that they accept. So, before you apply, double-check with your desired institution.

On the other hand, CAT scores are only valid for one year from the date of the test. In addition, if you do not pass the exam the first time, you will have to wait a year to take it again. The GMAT, on the other hand, can be taken whenever you want. Therefore, for many candidates, the opportunity cost of waiting a year would be a factor to consider.


4. GMAT vs CAT Eligibility

 4.	GMAT vs CAT Eligibility

The GMAT is open to anybody above the age of 18. If you’re under the age of 18, i.e. 13-18 years old, you can take the GMAT with parental permission. You can take the GMAT up to five times per year. There should be a minimum of 16 days between each try. In addition, there is an overall lifetime restriction of eight permissible attempts.

The CAT is only offered once a year, on a date set by the convening IIM. Every year in July or August, the convening IIM announces the date of the CAT. You can take the CAT as many times as you like, and you can take it at any age. To take the CAT, you must have a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from a recognised institution. Students in the last year of their degree programmes are also eligible to take the CAT.


5. GMAT vs CAT Syllabus

 5.	GMAT vs CAT Syllabus

The Analytical Writing Assessment, Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Integrated Reasoning are all assessed on the GMAT.

Quantitative Aptitude (QA), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension are all covered in the CAT syllabus (VARC).

The lack of the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) part in the CAT syllabus is the most significant distinction between the GMAT and CAT syllabuses. Both tests evaluate Quantitative, Verbal, and Reasoning skills, with the exception of the AWA component.


GMAT vs CAT – Verbal syllabus

The following verbal topics are asked on the GMAT and CAT –



Fill in the blanks

Verb tense



Para Completion and inference

Subject-verb agreement

Reading Comprehension


Verbal Logic




Verbal Reasoning




Contextual usage




Different usage of the same word

Strengthen and weaken



Sentence completion


Jumbled paragraphs


Foreign language words used in English


Sentence correction




One word substitution


GMAT vs CAT – Quant syllabus

The following Quant topics are asked on the GMAT and CAT




Number properties


Multiples and factors



Ratios and Proportion


Number system


Work and time



Powers and roots


Profit and loss

Profit & Loss

Simple and compound interest

In-equations Quadratic and linear equations

Speed, time, and distance

Geometric Progression

Pipes, cisterns, and work time


Ratio and proportion


Mixtures and alligations

Partnership (Accounts)

Descriptive statistics


Set theory

Surds and Indices



Permutation and combination


Monomials, polynomials


Algebraic expressions and equations






Arithmetic and geometric progression


Quadratic equations


Inequalities and basic statistics


Lines and angles








Rectangular solids and cylinders


Coordinate geometry


6. GMAT vs CAT Exam Fees

 6.	GMAT vs CAT Exam Fees

The GMAT registration fee is $250. You may schedule and make an appointment after creating and registering an account on mba.com.

The CAT registration and exam fee is INR 2000/-. In the months of July and August, the convening IIM issues a notification. This notification contains information on registration dates, exam fees, and other pertinent information. Because the CAT is not given on a demand basis, you must adhere to the registration deadlines. 

IIM graduates from the Top -10 IIMs may expect to earn between INR 22-25 lakhs on average. Thus, INR 82 lakhs is the largest foreign offer offered to an IIM graduate. The average compensation offered to graduates of the top 25 MBA institutions in the world, on the other hand, is much higher, at INR 1.05 crore.


7. GMAT vs CAT Difficulty Level

7.	GMAT vs CAT Difficulty Level

Because the GMAT has a more well-defined syllabus and question types than the CAT, it is easier to prepare for it. With 90–120 hours of intense preparation, it is possible to achieve a GMAT score of 700 or higher.

The CAT syllabus is less well defined than the GMAT, necessitating greater preparation time.

In comparison to the CAT, the verbal component of the GMAT presents a larger challenge for Indian test takers who are non-native English speakers. The CAT quantitative section is more demanding than the GMAT quantitative section.

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How to decide between GMAT and CAT?

When deciding between the GMAT and the CAT, keep the following factors in mind:

  • Career Objectives

Aside from the 20 IIMs, more than 100 other B-schools across India accept CAT results for graduate management programs admission. In addition, CAT scores are also accepted by a few international business institutions for admission to management programmes. The following are a few of the foreign schools that accept CAT scores:

Sr No





SP Jain Institute of Management




SKEMA Business School




Singapore Management University




The GMAT is recognised for admission to over 7000 graduate management programmes at over 2,300 graduate business schools worldwide. GMAT scores are accepted by several of the world’s best business schools for admission to their graduate management programmes, including:

  • Harvard Business School
  • Sloan School of Management at MIT
  • Stanford Graduate School of Business

Because of its global acceptance, the GMAT is the logical choice if your career objective is to study abroad and get valuable foreign exposure and professional experience. In addition, the GMAT is also becoming more widely accepted as a criterion for admission to executive programmes at several of India’s premier business institutions.

On the other hand, the CAT is the favoured option if your primary goal is to live and work in India for some of the greatest domestic and international employers.

  • Preferences for Program 

You may be required to take the GMAT or the CAT, depending on your preferred B-school and its programme entrance requirements.

E.g., If you want to apply to any IIM’s conventional 2-year, full-time residential MBA programme, you’ll need a valid CAT score. However, a legitimate GMAT score is accepted if you are choosing the 1-year full-time executive programme (EPGP/PGPEx).

Furthermore, because the IIMs administer the CAT, it is a better predictor of success in the programmes they provide, as it assesses the abilities needed to succeed in the programme.

Note: If you are an international or out-of-country student, your GMAT score will be taken into account for admission to some of India’s best business schools.

  • Location Preferences

Suppose you’ve decided to study in a specific geographic region because of the proximity of employers in your target industry. In that case, this is a point to consider while choosing between the GMAT and the CAT.

E.g., If you’re looking for job opportunities in luxury management, France is the ideal place to look. It would be best to earn an MBA at a local B-school in France, as this would put you in close proximity to your target businesses and allow you to participate in internships.

  • Return vs Investment

If you’re thinking about taking either test, the prices are broken down in the table below:

Sr No







$ 30


Preparation Cost


$ 450 (Cost of CAT coaching in-classroom programmes on average)


Cost of rescheduling

$50 – More than 60 days before the scheduled appointment

$100 – 15 to 60 days prior to appointment
$150 – 1 to 14 days prior to appointment

Conducted only once a year (rescheduling not possible)


Score reporting

$35 each (First 5 reports are free)

Reported to all IIMs free of cost.


Enhanced score report


Not available


Score Validity

5 Years

1 Year


Total Cost

$ 829

$ 480


Total cost per year

$ 166

$ 480



Q1. Has the CAT format recently changed?

  1. In CAT, just the timings of each part have changed. Previously, each portion was allotted 60 minutes. For CAT, you will now be allotted 40 minutes per part. However, the total number and level of questions have remained the same.

Q2. Which is better for candidates? Is it better to take the CAT or the GMAT?

  1. The GMAT is more candidate-friendly because it allows for five attempts. The CAT, on the other hand, is held once a year on a single day. In addition, the GMAT allows candidates to choose the day and time of the exam, whereas the CAT is held on a single day for all candidates.

Q3. Which exam offers more options for MBA colleges in India. Is it better to take the CAT or the GMAT?

  1. Because the CAT is a national exam and the GMAT is a worldwide exam, the former provides more MBA college alternatives in India. In India, about 1,200 MBA colleges accept the CAT score for MBA admission. Only a few tier-1 MBA universities in India, on the other hand, accept GMAT scores for admission.

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