How do I prepare for CAT and GMAT simultaneously?
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? How to take both CAT and GMAT? How to prepare for GMAT and CAT together? Will CAT prep be helpful in my GMAT prep – or – Will GMAT prep be helpful in the CAT prep? Is GMAT preparation enough for CAT? etc, etc – These are the most frequently asked questions by a lot of MBA aspirants. One can prepare for both these exams simultaneously and preparation for one exam helps the other. This article will look at how can one prepare for both GMAT and CAT exams together.
We will also see how to use the CAT preparation to crack the GMAT exam. The differences between CAT and GMAT, CAT or GMAT – which is easy, the toughness of the exams. Also, Which exam among CAT and GMAT is the right test for you, CAT and GMAT coaching online, and also very important CAT and GMAT Practice tests. Knowing these will help you prepare for these exams better.
Firstly you should be aware of the examination pattern clearly and have a proper GMAT online preparation plan.
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|
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. Every year, more than 2 lakh candidates appear for the CAT examination. One usually needs to score 99+ percentile in CAT, to get into the top B-schools. The CAT exam includes the following sections (exam pattern based on CAT 2020):
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|
Confused between GMAT and CAT?
- Both of these are very important exams for graduate students. It is not wise to choose the entrance exam depending on how easy or tough the exam is. The exams are neither too easy nor too tough, and one needs to work equally hard for them.
- One needs to have good problem-solving skills, logical and critical thinking skills, and a good deal of hard work to crack the exams. Both exams require dedication and proper planning. The difficulty level differs for each exam, and from candidate to candidate.
- 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.
- If you have already prepared for the CAT and thinking if the CAT prep would be helpful in the GMAT prep, the answer is – Yes, it would be helpful.
- Although the syllabus of both these exams is slightly different, you can definitely use the skills learned while preparing for CAT, to prepare for the GMAT.
- If you have decided to prepare for both the exams, it is recommended to start with CAT prep first and later proceed to GMAT prep, rather than the other way round. The reason is simple – If you start with GMAT preparation and later proceed to CAT, you need to additionally prepare more for the quants section of the CAT and also must prepare for a whole new section called the LRDI in CAT. Hence, it is advisable to start with CAT prep, and by the time you proceed to GMAT prep, you would have covered almost 70% of the syllabus of GMAT.
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Why should you prepare for the GMAT exam along with CAT?
The GMAT gives a candidate the flexibility to take the exam anytime during the year, and also one can take the exam up to 5 times during a year. Also, the GMAT score is valid for 5 years and the scores are accepted in many B-schools across the world. The GMAT allows you the flexibility of building your profile before you start your MBA. It also does not take too many months to prepare for the exam, if one prepares with proper planning and seriousness.
A comparison between CAT and GMAT
Let us look at the key differences between GMAT vs. CAT, the GMAT vs. CAT difficulty level, the Syllabus of GMAT and CAT, Preparation together and other important things.
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+ or a 700+ (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 and Data Interpretation, whereas the GMAT Syllabus is majorly based on English and Quant.
- The exam pattern for 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.
- Peer learning is very essential to crack both these exams. Candidates preparing for the GMAT can join the Telegram group here – where one can discuss the prep-related queries and exam strategies with peers and exam experts.
Already preparing for CAT? How can you utilise that to prepare for GMAT in a smarter way?
Start your GMAT preparation by taking a mock test. Candidates can take these FREE topic tests to assess their strengths and weaknesses in each of the Quant and the Verbal sections.
Let us see how to prepare for each section of the GMAT, along with your CAT preparation:
The verbal section of the GMAT is more challenging and tests more concepts than the CAT. This section tests more of your critical reasoning skills, grammar, and assesses your ability to critically analyse an argument and come to a conclusion. Although the RCs part is similar to both these exams, the Verbal section of the GMAT has two additional sections when compared to CAT VARC.
The Verbal section of the GMAT includes:
Reading Comprehension: It tests the candidates’ ability to make inferences, comprehend logical linkages between significant points, understand words and sentences, and track the progression of numeric concepts. Aside from that, candidates will be judged on their reading skills, including inference, application, primary idea, supporting the notion, logical structure, and style.
The level of RCs in CAT is almost similar to that of the GMAT. Reading various International newspapers and magazines is preferred to improve one’s abilities in the GMAT Verbal section.
Critical Reasoning: This is a separate section in the GMAT Verbal. It evaluates the candidates’ ability to construct and analyse arguments and formulate and evaluate a plan of action.
In CAT there are Critical Reasoning questions as a part of RCs, but in GMAT the CR questions constitute a separate section and are relatively tougher than CAT CR questions.
Sentence Correction: This part is not present in the CAT and is slightly tougher in GMAT. So, Sentence Correction is one very important section in GMAT verbal that the candidates must prepare additionally.
This SC part examines two different areas of the candidates’ language skills. The first is to correct expressions while referring to grammatically and structurally sound phrases. The second aspect is an adequate expression, which refers to phrases that and grammatically represent a concept or relationship.
If you have scored a 95%ile+ in CAT VARC, that means that you have a good grasp of the VARC concepts. In that case, you wouldn’t require much time to prepare for the GMAT Verbal. As the GMAT Verbal has two other sections (CR and SC) you need to focus on these additionally.
Check out the complete GMAT syllabus and Section-wise Preparation Tips
The Quantitative Reasoning section of the GMAT is not as tough as compared to that of the CAT exam. The CAT quants syllabus is quite substantial and requires more time to prepare. So, the quants section of the CAT is relatively tougher and tests more concepts. On the other hand, GMAT quant does not require too much time to prepare. If you have already prepared for CAT quants, the time required to prepare for GMAT quants will be much lesser. One additional topic tested in GMAT quants is Statistics (just the basic concepts in statistics are tested).
GMAT quants section has two parts: Problem-solving and Data sufficiency.
Problem Solving: It evaluates the candidates’ ability to solve quantitative problems using logic and analytical thinking. This part is not tough if one has already prepared well for CAT quants.
Data Sufficiency: This is an important section in the GMAT quants and requires additional practice. The Data Sufficiency questions evaluate applicants’ abilities to analyse a quantitative issue, determine whether data is relevant, and assess when enough information is available to solve the problem. The Data Sufficiency questions are not very easy and require additional practice.
One can also spend some time practicing mental calculations every day, to improve calculation speed while solving questions. A calculator will not be available for the GMAT Quants section.
Analytical Writing Assessment
This section is not present in the CAT, and it is unique to the GMAT exam. You will be presented with an argument and you are expected to write an essay about it. Although this section is not counted towards your final score, you need to prepare well for this section. It is not a very difficult section to prepare for. The purpose is to evaluate the candidate’s ability to think critically and convey his/her thoughts in writing.
Integrated Reasoning Section
The Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT Exam is the most recent addition to the exam’s syllabus. This section evaluates applicants’ ability to analyse and evaluate data in various formats. It assesses the applicants’ ability to evaluate data provided in the form of a graph or table.
The Integrated Reasoning section in GMAT is not Computer Adaptive (unlike the Quant and Verbal sections). This section is not exactly like the LRDI section of the CAT and is also not as tough as the LRDI section of the CAT. Your score in the Integrated Section of GMAT is not counted towards the final score.
Time required to prepare for CAT and GMAT together
- 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.
- If you’re already well versed with the concepts tested in the CAT, you would only need 2-3 months to prepare for and crack the GMAT. The amount of time required to prepare for the GMAT is usually less than that of the CAT.
- If you have scored 95%ile+ in the CAT, then an additional two months of preparation might suffice for the GMAT. If you scored around 90%ile, then you will require at least three months to crack the GMAT.
- On the other hand, if you scored less than the 90%ile percentile in CAT, it means you have to work harder for the GMAT. You have to work more on the Data Sufficiency questions in GMAT Quants, and the Critical Reasoning and Sentence Correction questions in the GMAT Verbal section.
- An overall score of 700 in GMAT would be roughly 88%ile. This percentile figure for GMAT could give you some idea of the CAT to GMAT conversion. Achieving a 90%ile in GMAT for someone who scored a 95%ile in CAT, is not a very tough job. All it takes is an organised prep plan and a few weeks of hard work.
- While preparing for GMAT, try to spend at least 2 hrs every day on the weekdays and more time on the weekends. Try to spend around 18-20 hrs every week.
Is coaching needed?
Yes. One would also need external mentorship in the form of coaching and mentors to prepare together for both the CAT and the GMAT. Preparation for the GMAT can be done from home by enrolling in an online course.
For someone who has good reading skills, quantitative and logical thinking skills, CAT might be relatively easy to crack. And, GMAT might appear relatively easy for someone who has mastery over the Verbal Reasoning section and a decent grasp of the Quant section.
If you already prepared for CAT, you need to put in only some additional efforts to prepare for the GMAT – The CAT is not a computer-adaptive test, while the GMAT is a computer-adaptive test, so one must get used to this format of test-taking. Also, unlike in CAT, you cannot skip questions nor go back to previous questions in GMAT. Hence the candidates must get used to this format of test-taking. Taking these FREE Topic Tests in the Verbal and Quant Section will be extremely beneficial to the candidates in building those test-taking abilities. These tests are curated to match the difficulty level and the test-taking format of GMAT, and hence these are highly recommended.
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.
If you are starting your GMAT preparation from scratch, you should definitely checkout the GMATPOINT