GMAT vs CAT: Which is better? Everything you need to know


GMAT vs CAT: Which is better? Everything you need to know

The GMAT and the CAT are very popular MBA entrance exams taken by the aspirants who wish to pursue MBA from their dream B-Schools. They are among some of the toughest entrance exams to crack. CAT is an entrance exam that is important for getting admissions into the premier B-schools, to pursue an MBA in India. On the other hand, the GMAT is an entrance exam that is essential to pursue MBA in premier institutions in India and abroad.

Once you decided to pursue MBA, the next immediate question is which entrance exam to give. Which exam among CAT and GMAT should I choose? This is one of the most common questions asked by a lot of students. And, also since many students face a lot of confusion between CAT and GMAT: This article will look at the differences between CAT and GMAT, the toughness of the exams, which is better among GMAT & CAT and all the essential things one should know that will help you which exam you should choose. Here’s a full comparison between the GMAT and the CAT. Firstly you should be aware of the examination pattern clearly and have a proper GMAT online preparation plan.

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Check out the video explanation here:

What is GMAT?

The GMAT is one of the most widely taken MBA entrance examinations globally, and the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) organises it. It is a test known to assess the analytical and critical thinking abilities of a candidate. The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a Computer-Adaptive Test. Every management aspirant hopes to achieve a high GMAT score that will allow them to apply to the top MBA colleges in India and abroad.  While coming to The exam includes the following sections:

GMAT Exam Pattern

Subject Name No. of questions Points Time Limit
Quantitative Reasoning 31 6-51 (in 1-point increments) 62 Min
Verbal Reasoning 36 6-51 (in 1-point increments) 65 Min
Integrated Reasoning 12 1-8 (in 1-point increments) 30 Min
Analytical Writing Assessment 01 0-6 (in 0.5-point increments) 30 Min

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What is CAT?

The Common Admission Test (CAT) is an MBA entrance exam offering admission to the 20 IIMs and other reputed B-Schools in India. The CAT exam is conducted by the IIMs, and it is the biggest national level MBA entrance exam in India. The CAT exam includes the following sections:

CAT Exam Pattern

Subject Name No. of questions Time Limit
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC) 26 40 Min
Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation (LRDI) 24 40 Min
Quantitative Ability (QA) 26 40 Min


Every year, more than 2 lakh candidates appear for the CAT examination. One needs to score 99+ percentile in CAT, to get into the top B-schools (for the general category). One should also have to have a good academic and professional background if one is expecting a call from the Top IIM’s. The fee usually varies for different institutes and is very high for some institutes. The specialisations offered during the course include Marketing, Finance, HR, Operations, Entrepreneurship, etc.

Comparison between CAT and GMAT

Let us look at the key differences between CAT vs GMAT, Which is recommended among GMAT vs CAT. Between CAT and  GMAT, both of which, according to statistical data, have a big number of takers year after year and better for you.

Syllabus and Overview

As mentioned, the GMAT is one of the most widely taken MBA entrance examinations globally. One usually needs a GMAT score of 650+ (out of 800) to apply to the top B-Schools.

There is no huge difference in the syllabus for both exams. CAT Syllabus is based on topics such as English, Quant, and Logical Reasoning, whereas the GMAT Syllabus is majorly based on English and Quant.

Differences between GMAT and CAT

Exam conducting body The IIM’s The GMAC
Purpose of examination Entrance exam for Admission to pursue MBA in India (from IIM’s, FMS, MDI, SP JAIN, etc.) Entrance exam for Admission to pursue MBA in India and abroad.
Mode of Exam Online (and not computer-adaptive) Online (and computer-adaptive)
  • Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)
  • Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)
  • Quantitative Ability (QA)
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Integrated Reasoning
  • Analytical Writing Assessment
Number of questions  


(26 questions in VARC + 24 questions in DILR + 26 questions in QA)


(31 questions in quant + 36 questions in Verbal + 12 questions in Integrated reasoning + 1 AWA Topic)

Total Marks 228 (+3 marks for correct answer and -1 for wrong answer) 800 (GMAT score one can get ranges between 200-800)
Negative marking
Yes (for MCQ type questions) No
Exam duration 2 Hours 3 hours and 7 minutes, plus two optional 8-minute breaks
Type of questions Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ’s) with 4 options, and TITA Type Questions. Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ’s) with 5 options.
Exam date
Last Sunday of November (held once a year) Candidates can schedule anytime during the year (upto 5 times a year, and a maximum of 8 attempts overall).
Score validity
1 year 5 years
Top Colleges in India
All the 20 IIM’s, FMS Delhi, MDI, SPJIMR, etc. ISB Hyderabad, SPJIMR, IIM’s (one-year MBA Program), XLRI, IMT Ghaziabad, Great Lakes Chennai, TAPMI, LBSIM Delhi, GIM Goa, etc.

Note: The exam pattern of the CAT is based on the latest CAT 2021 pattern (usually CAT is a 3-hour exam. Due to the Covid pandemic, CAT 2020 was held as a 2-hour exam and CAT 2021 also will be held as a 2-hour exam).

Check out the GMAT Syllabus PDF

Additional pointers

  • As we can see, the pattern of both these exams is different. The candidates appearing for the GMAT exam are tested on topics such as Verbal reasoning, Quantitative reasoning, Integrated reasoning, and AWA. And, the candidates appearing for CAT are tested on topics such as Quantitative Aptitude, Reading Comprehension, Logical Reasoning, etc.
  • To crack the GMAT and the CAT, one needs to have a thorough understanding of the fundamentals, do rigorous practice, and have a proper exam-taking strategy. One needs to solve multiple mock tests, learn to manage time, and stay calm under pressure during the exam- the exams are also a test of mental stamina.

Placements: GMAT vs CAT

    • As far as the placements are concerned, the packages offered during the placements depend on the college one is graduating from. The packages are much higher for the ones passing out of top colleges such as ISB, the old IIM’s, SPJIMR, etc. The Average placement at ISB, Hyderabad (which accepts GMAT) stands at 28+ LPA. The Average placements of the 2-year full-time MBA program (which accepts CAT) at top IIMs are also around 26+ LPA

CAT and GMAT Results

The CAT exam result is announced after one month after taking the exam (usually in the first week of Jan). CAT provides a score (generally out of 300) which is converted to a percentile value; this is then used as a performance index. The CAT exam result includes your performance in all three sections (VARC, LRDI, QA).

The GMAT test result: The overall GMAT score (which is out of 800) includes your scores of the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections only. Once you’ve taken the GMAT exam, you will be getting your score for Quant, Verbal, IR, and Overall score immediately after the exam – And here the candidates have the option to keep the scores or cancel them. And if you decided to keep your scores, you will get the final score officially in 2-3 weeks, including ur AWA score.

Exam fee: GMAT vs. CAT

The exam fee for the CAT is usually around Rs. 2,200. The exam fee for GMAT is $250 (which is roughly Rs.18,300). The GMAT score is automatically reported to 5 colleges of your choice for free (you can choose these colleges when giving the GMAT exam). You can also apply for more colleges by paying a certain fee.


According to GMAC, there are no precise eligibility requirements for taking the GMAT exam. However, before applying to any institution or university, make sure you are aware of all of the requirements. On the other hand, students who have completed their undergrad or those in the final year of graduation can appear for the CAT exam.

How many times and when can one take the CAT and the GMAT?

CAT: The CAT exam is held only once a year (usually on the last Sunday of November). Hence, candidates can appear for CAT only once a year. Also, there is no limit on the number of times a candidate can appear for the CAT.

GMAT: Candidates can give the exam any time during the year. According to the GMAC, you can take the GMAT exam once every 16 calendar days and no more than five times in a rolling 12-month period and no more than eight times in total. Hence, in terms of exam dates, the GMAT provides more flexibility. You have to register on their official website and book the slot to schedule the exam. Candidates also have the option to reschedule their exam date.

The Admission Process of top colleges accepting the CAT vs GMAT scores

  • CAT: Apart from a candidate’s CAT score, IIMs also give a considerable weightage to one’s performance in past academics and also some weightage to work experience. Based on these parameters, candidates will be shortlisted for the interview. Also, there are some top colleges such as FMS Delhi, which gives more importance to one’s CAT score and relatively less importance to past acads.
  • GMAT: The top MBA Colleges accepting GMAT scores also give considerable weightage to one’s profile. The admission procedure involves more processes compared to that of CAT. For GMAT, along with your exam score, you have to submit a lengthy application, which includes your work experience, SOP, letters of recommendation from your professors or previous employers. Once your profile is shortlisted, you will get an interview call. (candidates are also advised to check with the respective colleges for a detailed admission process).

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Time required to prepare for CAT and GMAT

The time required to prepare for an exam depends on the candidate’s ability to grasp the concepts. Students starting from scratch usually take 6-8 months to crack the CAT exam. On the other hand, students starting from scratch take 5-6 months to crack the GMAT exam.

Is coaching needed?

Yes. One would also need external mentorship in the form of coaching and mentors to prepare for both the CAT and the GMAT. Preparation for the GMAT can be done from home by enrolling in an online course.

Having a good peer group is also essential for cracking both exams. You can join our Telegram group for GMAT Aspirants here, where you can post and discuss your GMAT preparation and college admission-related queries with your peers and exam experts.

CAT vs GMAT: Which is tough

  • Both exams require dedication, proper planning, and hard work. The difficulty level differs for each exam, and from candidate to candidate.
  • Both the exams test the analytical skills and logical thinking abilities of the candidates, and both of these are important exams for graduate students. Which exam is difficult among CAT and GMAT, and what exam should one give entirely depends on one’s strengths, interests, and career goals.
  • The quantitative aptitude section is relatively tougher in the CAT exam. Whereas, in the GMAT exam, the verbal reasoning is tougher when compared to that of CAT.
  • If one is weak in the Verbal Reasoning section, then GMAT might be a difficult exam, and if one is weak in Verbal ability and Quants, then CAT may be a difficult exam.
  • Similarly, for someone who has good reading skills, quantitative and logical thinking skills, then CAT will be relatively easy to crack. And, GMAT would appear relatively easy for someone who has mastery over the Verbal Reasoning section and a decent grasp of the Quant section.

So, both exams have their own difficulty levels and which one is tougher depends on one’s strengths and weaknesses.

Check out the complete GMAT syllabus and Section-wise Preparation Tips

Confused between GMAT and CAT? Which is better?

  • Both of these are very important exams for graduate students. It is not wise to choose the entrance exam depending on how easy the exam is. The exams are neither too easy nor too tough, and one needs to work equally hard for them.
  • GMAT scores is valid for 5 years from the date of test. On the other hand, CAT scores are valid for just 1 year from the date of the test.
  • One needs to have good problem-solving skills, logical and critical thinking skills, and a good deal of hard work to crack the exams.
  • One can also prepare for both these exams at the same time and give both the exams: If you are well-versed with the topics that appear in the CAT exam, you just need to additionally prepare for the Critical Reasoning and Sentence Correction topics in the GMAT Verbal section, and Data Sufficiency section in the GMAT Quants section.
  • Firstly, you must know the answers to these questions: WHY you are giving a certain exam? Where do you want to pursue MBA from, India or abroad, and why? What do you want to be, where do you want yourself in the next 5-10 years? What are your goals? Assess your interests, strengths, weaknesses. Once you do this, you will be able to figure out which is the right exam to give.
  • Also, the GMAT might be a preferable alternative to some students based on its exam scheduling flexibility.
  • Which exam to give also among these two also depends on one’s settling preferences post MBA. It depends on your employability factor as well (i.e., in which company you want to work in and in which country, etc.)
  • One must choose his/her career wisely depending on one’s interests and skills.

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