When it comes to pursuing higher education, standardised tests are often a crucial part of the admission process. GRE and CAT are two of the most widely recognized and respected tests for higher education.
While both of these tests are designed to assess a candidate's abilities and knowledge, there are key differences between them that may make one more suitable for certain higher education goals than the other.
In this article, we will explore the differences between the GRE and CAT, and help you determine which test may be right for your higher education goals.
Table of Contents
GRE vs CAT: Key differences
|Aspect||GRE (Graduate Record Examination)||CAT (Common Admission Test)|
|Purpose||Admission into graduate programs abroad||Admission into management programs in India|
|Exam Format||Computer-based test||Computer-based test|
|Sections||Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Analytical Writing||Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning|
|Scoring Scale||Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning: 130-170, Analytical Writing: 0-6||Overall and Sectional Percentile Scores|
|Test Duration||Approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes||Approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes|
|Exam Frequency||Offered throughout the year||Conducted once a year (typically in November)|
|Test Acceptance||Widely accepted by international universities||Primarily accepted by Indian institutes|
|Exam Eligibility||No specific eligibility criteria||Graduates or final year undergraduate students|
|Focus Areas||Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Analytical Writing Skills||Verbal Ability, Data Interpretation, Logical Reasoning, and Reading Comprehension|
Difference between GRE vs CAT
The GRE and CAT are two standardised tests that are often required for admission into graduate or business programs. Both tests are designed to assess a candidate's skills and knowledge in various subjects, but they differ in their format, content, and purpose.
1. Conducting body
The GRE is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), a nonprofit organisation that develops and administers standardised tests. ETS is responsible for test development, administration, scoring, and score reporting.
The CAT is conducted by one of the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) on behalf of the Indian Institutes of Management. The conducting IIM for CAT is decided on a rotational basis every year. The conducting body is responsible for the overall conduct of the exam, including registration, setting the question paper, conducting the exam, and declaring the results.
The GRE is a standardised test that measures a candidate's aptitude in verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. It is a computer-based test that is offered year-round in testing centres around the world. The test is administered in a fixed order, with the analytical writing section always coming first.
The CAT, on the other hand, is a computer-adaptive test that adapts to the candidate's ability level. The test adjusts the difficulty of the questions as the test progresses, based on the candidate's performance on previous questions. This means that each candidate receives a unique test, tailored to their abilities. The test is offered in various subject areas, including math, science, reading, and writing. It is also a computer-based test that is administered in a fixed order.
Also read: GRE General and GRE Subjects Test
There is no specific eligibility criterion in terms of educational qualifications or age for the GRE. It is generally taken by individuals who are seeking admission into graduate programs abroad. The eligibility criteria for CAT typically require candidates to hold a bachelor's degree in any discipline from a recognized university. Final-year undergraduate students are also eligible to apply.
The GRE syllabus is divided into three main sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. The Verbal Reasoning section assesses a candidate's ability to analyse and evaluate written material, understand and use vocabulary, and draw conclusions. The Quantitative Reasoning section measures mathematical skills and problem-solving abilities. The Analytical Writing section evaluates a candidate's critical thinking and analytical writing skills.
The CAT syllabus focuses on four main sections: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning, Quantitative Ability, and a section on General Knowledge (not included in the scoring). The Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension section assess a candidate's English language comprehension and grammar skills. The Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning section evaluates a candidate's ability to interpret data and solve logical reasoning problems. The Quantitative Ability section tests mathematical and quantitative aptitude.
The GRE is designed to measure a candidate's general aptitude in verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. The verbal reasoning section measures a candidate's ability to understand complex written material and make inferences from it. The quantitative reasoning section measures a candidate's ability to solve problems using mathematical concepts. The analytical writing section measures a candidate's ability to analyse and articulate complex ideas in written form. The unscored research section is used to develop and test new questions for future versions of the test.
The CAT consists of three sections: verbal ability and reading comprehension, data interpretation and logical reasoning, and quantitative ability. The verbal ability and reading comprehension section is designed to assess a candidate's English language and comprehension skills. The data interpretation and logical reasoning section tests a candidate's ability to analyse and interpret data and use logic to solve problems. The quantitative ability section assesses a candidate's mathematical and quantitative abilities.
Also Read: GRE Exam Pattern
The GRE is scored on a scale of 130 to 170 in one-point increments for the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections, while the analytical writing section is scored on a scale of 0 to 6 in half-point increments. The scores for each section are reported separately, and some graduate programs may require a minimum score for admission. The total score for the GRE is the sum of the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections and ranges from 260 to 340.
The scoring of the CAT exam is based on the number of correct answers and incorrect answers, with a penalty for incorrect answers. Each correct answer carries three marks, and each incorrect answer carries a penalty of one mark. Unanswered questions do not carry any marks. The final score of the CAT exam is determined by adding up the scores obtained in each section. The final score is reported on a scale of 0-100, with a percentile rank indicating the candidate's performance relative to other test-takers.
Also Read: GRE Score Guide 2023
The GRE General Test is approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes long, including one 10-minute break. The test has six sections - two verbal reasoning sections, two quantitative reasoning sections, one analytical writing section, and an unscored research section. The research section is used for research purposes and does not count towards your score.
On the other hand, the CAT is a computer-based test that is 3 hours long. It has three sections - Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning, and Quantitative Ability. The time allotted for each section is 60 minutes.
The cost of the GRE varies depending on the country and testing location. In the United States, the cost is currently $220 for the general test, while the cost for the subject tests varies by subject area. Additional fees may apply for late registration, rescheduling, or changing the test centre.
The cost for the CAT exam varies every year and is generally in the range of INR 2000-2500 for General and OBC category candidates, and INR 1000-1250 for SC, ST, and PWD category candidates.
GRE vs CAT: Which test to take?
The choice between GRE and CAT depends on your higher education goals and the programs you are interested in pursuing.
GRE is generally required for admission to graduate programs in the United States and some other countries. It is often required for admission to a variety of graduate programs, including business, law, and engineering, among others.
On the other hand, CAT is an entrance exam that is specifically designed for admission to postgraduate management programs in India, such as the MBA (Master of Business Administration) and PGDM (Post Graduate Diploma in Management) programs.
Therefore, if your goal is to pursue a graduate program outside of India, GRE would be the right test for you. However, if your goal is to pursue a postgraduate management program in India, CAT would be the right test for you.
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Both the GRE and CAT are important tests for admission into higher education programs, but they differ in their format, content, and purpose. So, you should carefully consider your higher education goals and the specific requirements of your intended program before choosing which test to take. It is also important to prepare thoroughly for the test and to familiarise yourself with the test format and content to achieve the best possible score.
Frequently asked questions
Which test should I take, GRE or CAT?
You should choose the test that aligns with your higher education goals and the specific skills that are required for your intended field of study. The GRE is accepted by a wide range of graduate programs in the USA and other countries, whereas the CAT is primarily used for admission into Indian business schools.
What is the format of the GRE and CAT tests?
The GRE is a computer-based test that consists of verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing sections. The test is adaptive, meaning that the difficulty level of the questions will change based on how well the candidate performs on previous questions. The CAT is also a computer-based test that consists of three sections: verbal ability and reading comprehension, quantitative ability, and data interpretation and logical reasoning.
How often can I take the GRE or CAT test?
You can take the GRE test once every 21 days, up to 5 times within any continuous rolling 12-month period. The CAT test is held once a year, and you can take it only once per year.
How is the GRE test scored?
The GRE test is scored on a scale of 130 to 170 for verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning, and 0 to 6 for analytical writing. The scores are sent to the candidate and to the schools or programs they are applying to.
How long are the GRE and CAT test scores valid?
The GRE test scores are valid for five years from the date the test was taken. The CAT test scores are valid for one year from the date the test was taken.
Are GRE and GMAT easier than CAT?
The difficulty level of the GRE, GMAT, and CAT exams can vary depending on an individual's strengths and preparation. It is subjective, and what may be easier for one person could be challenging for another.
Are GRE and CAT the same?
No, GRE and CAT are different exams. GRE is primarily required for admissions into graduate programs abroad, while CAT is specifically for admissions into management programs in India.
Is CAT coaching enough for GRE?
CAT coaching focuses on preparing students for the CAT exam and its specific content. While it can enhance certain skills like quantitative aptitude and critical reasoning, it may not cover all the sections and requirements of the GRE.
Can I prepare for CAT and GRE together?
It is possible to prepare for CAT and GRE together, but it requires effective time management and planning. Since both exams have different formats and content, it is important to allocate sufficient time and resources for each exam's preparation.
Is CAT tougher than GRE?
The difficulty level of CAT and GREs cannot be directly compared as they assess different skill sets and knowledge areas. CAT focuses on management aptitude, while GRE assesses verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing skills. The perceived difficulty level may vary depending on an individual's strengths and familiarity with the exam content.
Is CAT accepted abroad?
CAT scores are primarily accepted by Indian institutes for admissions into management programs within India. If you are looking to pursue management programs abroad, you will typically need to take exams like the GRE or GMAT, which are widely accepted by international universities.
CAT vs. GRE: Which is tougher?
The difficulty level of CAT and GREs is subjective and depends on individual strengths and preparation. CAT focuses on management aptitude, while GRE assesses verbal, quantitative, and analytical skills.