GMAT

CAT vs GMAT: A head-to-head comparison for MBA admissions

By Edvoy• Last updated: Jun 16, 2023
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The choice between the CAT (Common Admission Test) or GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is often one of the biggest decisions for those pursuing an MBA degree.

Both the CAT and the GMAT are accepted by many of the top business schools in the world, so it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you.

In this guide, we will provide a comprehensive head-to-head comparison of the CAT vs GMAT to help you make an informed decision. We'll discuss the format, content, and scoring system of the tests to find the best one for you.

CAT vs GMAT

Both the CAT and GMAT are standardized tests used to assess your academic aptitude to graduate business programs. While the two tests are similar in that they are used for the same purpose, there are some important differences to consider when deciding which test is right for you.

Conducting body

CAT is conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and is used solely for admission to MBA programs at the IIMs. GMAT is conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) and is accepted by many business schools around the world.

Eligibility

The eligibility criteria for both exams are quite similar. You should have a bachelor’s degree from a recognized university with a minimum of 50% marks in aggregate. However, there is no age limit for CAT, whereas, for GMAT, the minimum age limit is 18 years and no upper age limit.

Exam structure

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

  • Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension: This section tests your ability to read, comprehend and interpret verbal information. The questions are based on grammar, vocabulary and reading comprehension.
  • Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning: This section tests your ability to interpret data and solve logical reasoning problems. The questions are based on tables, graphs, and diagrams.
  • Quantitative Ability: This section tests your ability to solve mathematical problems. The questions are based on arithmetic, algebra, geometry, measurement and probability.

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

  • Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA): This section tests your ability to analyze and write. The questions are based on argument evaluation, issue analysis and data sufficiency.
  • Integrated Reasoning (IR): This section tests your ability to interpret data and solve logical reasoning problems. The questions are based on tables, graphs, diagrams, and multi-source reasoning.
  • Quantitative Ability (QA): This section tests your ability to solve mathematical problems. The questions are based on arithmetic, algebra, geometry, measurement and probability.
  • Verbal Ability (VA): This section tests your ability to read, comprehend and interpret verbal information. The questions are based on grammar, vocabulary and reading comprehension.

Duration

The duration of the CAT is three hours and is conducted in two slots on the same day. The duration of the GMAT is three and a half hours and is held in three to four slots on the same day.

Scoring pattern

The CAT scoring pattern is based on the percentile system. A percentile indicates the percentage of candidates who have scored below a certain score in the exam. Each correct answer is awarded 3 marks, while each incorrect answer will result in a negative marking of 1 mark. The score obtained by the candidate is converted into a percentile and displayed on the CAT scorecard.

The GMAT scoring pattern is based on the total score. The total score is a combination of the scores obtained in the four sections and ranges from 200 to 800. Each correct answer is awarded one mark, and one-fourth mark will be deducted for each incorrect answer. The Analytical Writing Assessment section is scored on a scale of 0 to 6, and the Integrated Reasoning section is scored on a scale of 1 to 8. The Quantitative Ability and Verbal Ability sections are scored on a scale of 0 to 60.

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Cost

The cost of the CAT is INR 1,400 for general category candidates, while the cost of the GMAT is US$250. Therefore, the CAT is cheaper as compared to the GMAT, but the GMAT includes a free practice test, which is not available with the CAT.

Frequency

The CAT is conducted once a year, usually in November or December. On the other hand, the GMAT is conducted throughout the year, although the peak season is usually in the months of October to December.

Validity

The CAT score is valid for one year, while a GMAT score remains valid for five years.

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Which one is best for you: CAT or GMAT?

The answer to this question will depend on what you are looking to achieve and what your strengths and weaknesses are.

Generally, the CAT is used for admission to the Indian Institutes of Management and other top business schools. On the other hand, the GMAT is used for admission to most business schools worldwide.

The GMAT may be a better option if you are looking to pursue a postgraduate degree in management. The GMAT is a more comprehensive test with questions that focus on a wide range of topics, such as quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and reading comprehension. Additionally, the GMAT is accepted by the majority of business schools around the world, so it is a more feasible option if you are considering studying abroad.

On the other hand, if you are looking for admission to some of the top business schools in India, then the CAT is probably the better choice. This is because the CAT focuses more on Indian curricula, and the questions are more likely to be tailored to the Indian educational system. Additionally, the CAT is generally easier to prepare for, as the questions are usually more straightforward and less complex than those on the GMAT.

So, if you want to pursue a career in management in India, then CAT is the right choice. However, if you want to pursue an MBA abroad, then GMAT is the right choice.

Conclusion

The CAT and GMAT are both important exams for MBA admissions, and both can be used to demonstrate your knowledge and skills. Ultimately, the best exam for any candidate will depend on their strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. The CAT is a good choice for those with a strong quantitative background, while the GMAT is a good choice for those with a strong verbal background.

Frequently asked questions

1. Which one should I take, CAT or GMAT?

If you want to pursue a career in management in India, then CAT is the right choice. However, if you want to pursue an MBA abroad, then GMAT is the right choice.

2. Who conducts CAT and GMAT?

CAT is conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and is used solely for admission to MBA programs at the IIMs. GMAT is conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) and is accepted by many business schools around the world.

3. What are the different sections of CAT?

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

4. What is the duration of the CAT and GMAT?

The duration of the CAT is three hours and is conducted in two slots on the same day. The duration of the GMAT is three and a half hours and is held in three to four slots on the same day.

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