What Is The Difference Between CAT And The New GMAT Exam?

difference between cat and new gmat

If you plan to pursue an MBA, you might wonder whether you should take the CAT or the GMAT exam. Business schools widely accept both exams, but they have some differences in their syllabus, format, difficulty, and validity. This article will compare and contrast the CAT and GMAT syllabus to help you decide which exam suits your goals and preferences better.

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CAT syllabus

The Common Admission Test (CAT) is a national-level entrance exam conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) for admission to their MBA programs and other B-schools in India. The CAT syllabus covers three main areas: 

  • Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)
  • Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)
  • Quantitative Ability (QA)

The QA section tests your mathematical skills and concepts such as Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Number system, and Modern math. The VARC section tests your verbal skills and comprehension abilities through questions based on passages. The DILR section tests your data analysis and logical reasoning skills through questions based on arrangements, puzzles, Venn diagrams, tables, graphs, charts, etc. 

The CAT exam is conducted once a year in November and lasts 2 hours. The exam comprises around 66 questions, including multiple-choice (MCQs) and non-MCQs, with MCQs having negative markings for wrong answers. The CAT score is valid for one year, and the registration fee is around Rs 2,300.

GMAT Syllabus

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a global exam conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) for admission to more than 7000 MBA programs worldwide, including some top B-schools in India such as ISB Hyderabad/Mohali, XLRI Jamshedpur, MDI Gurgaon, etc. The New GMAT syllabus covers three main sections: 

  • Verbal Reasoning (VR), 
  • Quantitative Reasoning (QR), and 
  • Integrated Reasoning (IR) / Data Insights. 

The newer format of GMAT, the Focus Edition, will come into effect from Q4 of 2023.

The AWA section (in the current version of the GMAT exam) tests your analytical writing skills and ability to present a coherent and logical argument based on a topic. The IR section tests your ability to integrate data from multiple sources and solve complex problems using quantitative skills. The GMAT QR section tests your mathematical skills and concepts similar to the CAT QA section and also includes data sufficiency questions. The VR section tests your verbal skills and comprehension abilities, similar to the CAT VARC section but with more emphasis on critical reasoning questions.

The Focus Edition of GMAT is a lot like CAT regarding the syllabus and structure; in both, you can navigate between and bookmark questions. In CAT, you can change your answers to any question within the given sectional time limit. 

The GMAT exam can be taken multiple times a year at any time, depending on the slot availability at the test centres. The current version of the exam lasts 3 hours and 7 minutes. The GMAT score is valid for five years, and the exam fee is $275 (approx. Rs 22,500).

Comparison of CAT and GMAT Syllabus

  • As you can see from the above description, both CAT and GMAT syllabuses cover similar topics in quant and verbal sections but differ in their difficulty level, question types, scoring pattern, and weightage. The CAT exam is generally considered more difficult than the GMAT in terms of the Quants section, as CAT quant questions are tougher than those of GMAT quants. The GMAT exam is more adaptive as it adjusts the difficulty level of each question based on your previous responses.
  • Another major difference between CAT and GMAT syllabuses is that the GMAT exam has two additional sections: AWA (in the current version) and IR, which are absent in the CAT exam. However, IR is somewhat similar to the DILR section of CAT. 
  • These sections test your writing and integrated reasoning skills essential for MBA aspirants. However, these sections do not contribute to your overall GMAT score out of 800 but are scored separately on a scale of 0-6 for AWA and 1-8 for IR. 
  • However, for the Focus Edition, all three sections of QR, VR and IR contribute to the final score, and the AWA section is absent. The new version of GMAT is more similar to the structure of CAT.
  • The VR section of the GMAT is slightly more challenging than the CAT’s. The QR section of GMAT is easier than the QA section of CAT. It remains to be seen how the Data Insights section of the new GMAT Focus edition compares to the DILR section, which is often touted as a tricky section in CAT.
Parameter CAT GMAT GMAT Focus Edition
No. of Sections 3 4 3
Quantitative Section Only Problem Solving Questions Both Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency Only Problem Solving Questions
Verbal Section RC and Parajumbles, Parasummary and Odd one Out RC, Critical Reasoning and Sentence Correction RC and Critical Reasoning
Logical Reasoning Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning Caselets IR section is not included in final score Data and Logic related questions
Essay Section N/A AWA section requires one essay N/A
Question Types MCQ and TITA MCQ and Subjective MCQ

The CAT and GMAT syllabuses are designed to measure your management aptitude and skills required for an MBA degree. However, depending on your target B-schools, career goals, strengths and weaknesses, availability of time and resources, you can choose either CAT or GMAT or both.

Also Read:

GMAT B-school Predictor

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