CMAT Vs CAT - Know Difference Between CAT and CMAT

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Vipra Shrivastava
Senior Manager - Content
Updated on Jan 25, 2023 17:49 IST

CAT or CMAT, confused about which entrance exam to appear for MBA admission? Read this article and know the differences between CAT and CMAT and their similarities. 

CAT and CMAT are the two most popular entrance exams for MBA admission. Besides, gateway to top B-Schools, CMAT and CAT, both have several similarities leading to confusion among the MBA aspirants. CAT is conducted by the Indian Institute of Management, whereas, CMAT is conducted by the National Testing Agency. Both CMAT and CAT are conducted nationally for admission to more than 1000 institutes.

CAT receives more than three times the applications received for the CMAT exam. Considering less competition in CMAT, one may say CAT is tougher. However, one must consider all the pros and cons before choosing one out of the two management entrance exams

Knowing the differences can help you decide which exam to appear. In case you are planning to appear for both, knowing the similarities can improve the preparation strategy. Read this article further to know the insights on CAT Vs CMAT.

CMAT and CAT - Similarities

Both the entrance exams share identical traits leading to confusion among the aspirants. Here are all the similarities between CAT and CMAT. 

Similarities between CMAT & CAT
Given below is the table indicating key highlights of CAT and CMAT which are common to both. 



Course for admission 


Exam level


Mode of exam

Online (Computer-Based Test)

Number of option choices per question


Frequency of exam

Once a year

Medium of exam

English only

Negative marking

- 1 mark (for MCQs only)

Exam fee

CAT: INR 2,300 (unreserved) and INR 1,150 (reserved)

CMAT: INR 2,000 (unreserved), INR 1,000 (women and reserved)

Check: CMAT exam pattern

Check: CAT exam pattern

Difference Between CAT and CMAT

To determine which exam is tougher, we must dive into the differences between the pattern and key elements of both the exams. 

CAT Exam Vs CMAT Exam




Type of questions

MCQs and Non-MCQs (TITA)

MCQ only

Exam duration*

2 hours

3 hours

Number of sections

3 sections

5 sections

Sectional time limit*

40 minutes per section


Marks per question

3 marks per correct response

4 marks per correct response

Exam difficulty level

Moderate to hard

Easy to moderate

Official website

CAT Vs CMAT - Sectional Overview

Sections in any management entrance exam are identical. Division of questions, duration and marking scheme are the primary elements responsible for an asymmetry between the difficulty standards. Space below mentions the sectional analysis of CAT and CMAT. 

CAT Sectional Overview


Number of Questions

Maximum Marks

Sectional Time Limit

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)



40 minutes

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)



40 minutes

Quantitative Aptitude (QA)



40 minutes


66 questions

198 marks

160 minutes

CMAT Sectional Division


Number of Questions

Maximum Marks

Sectional Time Limit

Language Comprehension




Logical Reasoning



Quantitative Techniques & Data Interpretation



General Awareness



Innovation & Entrepreneurship






180 minutes

CMAT VS CAT - Section analysis to judge the difficulty levels

  1. The difficulty level of all three sections in CAT is moderate to high. In contrast, the three common sections in CMAT are comparatively easy. 
  2. Test takers find the General Awareness section of CMAT to be the toughest among the other sections. 
  3. Sectional time limit in CAT is another factor accounting for a higher difficulty level of the Common Admission Test (CAT). Due to the sectional time limit, candidates are unable to navigate across sections. 
  4. Comparatively, CMAT does not have a sectional time limit. Thus, candidates can leave a particular question for the end and proceed with other questions in the exam. 

Also Read: Changes in CAT exam pattern over the years

Download: CAT syllabus PDF Download: CMAT syllabus PDF

CAT and CMAT Participating Institutes

Both CAT and CMAT have over 1,000 participating institutes across India. The primary reason for the popularity of CAT is IIM admission. 20 IIMs situated across the nation only accept CAT score for management admission.

Also Read: List of B-Schools accepting CAT scores

CMAT is also a sought after management entrance exam in India accounting to its recognised participating institutes. About 1300 institutes offering MBA/ PGDM courses based on CMAT are recognised by the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE). 

Also Read: List of B-Schools accepting CMAT scores

CAT VS CMAT - Registration Statistics

The number of registrations is directly proportional to the competitiveness of the exam. More registrations depict a higher competition and lesser chances of a higher score. The tables below mention registration statistics to analyse the difficulty levels of CMAT and CAT on a competitive scale.

CAT Statistics - Registered VS Appeared




CAT 2021



CAT 2020



CAT 2019



CAT 2018



Also Read: CAT 2020 Registration Statistics

CMAT Statistics - Registered VS Appeared




CMAT 2021



CMAT 2020



CMAT 2019




CMAT VS CAT - Competition Analysis

Both CMAT and CAT have over 1,000 participating institutes. However, the number of candidates appearing for CMAT is much lesser as compared to CAT. Therefore, CMAT can be considered as the easier entrance exam for MBA admission. Candidates will have a better chance of scoring high in CMAT accounting to lower competition.

Check: CAT 2022 Exam Analysis

Check: CMAT 2022 Exam Analysis

CAT Preparation

The table below mentions links to study material, tips and tricks, and a holistic preparation plan to crack CAT exam.

Best books for CAT preparation

How many questions to attempt in CAT to score 99+

Ultimate CAT preparation tips from experts

How to prepare for CAT in 6 months?

CAT preparation tips for DILR

CAT preparation tips for VARC

CAT preparation tips and tricks for quant.

CAT question papers

Check out free online mock tests for CAT, created by Shiksha

Try this CAT Mock Test, Powered by IMS, to assess your preparation level and time-management skill.

Free CAT Mock Test 1

CMAT Preparation

The table below mentions links to tips/tricks, study material, and overall preparation plan from experts to ace CMAT 2023. 

CMAT Preparation: How to make a preparations strategy

How to prepare for CMAT 20232 in one month

CMAT exam day guidelines and strategies to crack the test

CMAT 2023 preparation: Logical Reasoning tips

Best Books for CMAT preparation

CMAT 2023 preparation: Quantitative Ability tips

CMAT 2023 preparation: Verbal Ability and RC tips

CMAT question papers

Check out free online mock tests for CMAT, created by Shiksha

CMAT Mock Test will help you to get an idea about the type of questions asked, the exam pattern and the marking scheme. After taking the test, you can immediately check your score. You can also download the Question Paper along with answers and their explanations for Free. Click below to start the free online test now.

Free CMAT Mock Test

How to Prepare for CAT and CMAT Simultaneously?

Both CAT and CMAT have three common sections with a nearly identical syllabus. Therefore, the preparation for both exams can go hand in hand. Here are some strategies followed by toppers to prepare for PCM subject groups of competitive exams.

  1. Considering CMAT is conducted in January and CAT is conducted in November; start General Awareness preparation around the month of September. 
  2. You should have completed the CAT syllabus before September; thus, along with General Awareness preparation, your primary aim must be to take as many CAT mock tests as possible. 
  3. Make a section-specific study plan for CAT. Sections in CMAT have an identical syllabus to CAT with an easy to moderate difficulty level as compared to CAT. Thus, do not focus on the CMAT syllabus except for General Awareness. 
  4. For the Quantitative Ability section, focus on knowing the concepts rather than learning the formulae.
  5. Include breaks between the preparation plan to avoid facing exam stress.

NOTE - According to the several CMAT toppers’ recommendations, you must prepare for the General Awareness section at least three months before the exam. 

Read More:

  1. Is XAT tougher than CAT?
  2. Difference between CAT and GMAT
  3. Difference between CAT and MAT
  4. How difficult is the IIFT exam as compared to CAT?
  5. How is NMAT different from CAT?

Check CMAT Cut offs and predict calls from colleges accepting CMAT score for admission. Check Fees, Placement Reviews, Admission, Shortlist Criteria and Eligibility of all CMAT participating colleges by clicking the link below:

Predict CMAT Admission Calls

Check CAT cut offs and predict calls from IIMs and Non-IIMs accepting CAT score for admission. Check Fees, Placement Reviews, Admission, Shortlist Criteria and Eligibility of all CAT participating colleges by clicking the link below:

Predict CAT Admission Calls


Q: Is CAT tougher than CMAT?

A: CMAT is a much easier exam than CAT, as the questions are easier and there is no sectional time limit. Those who have cleared CAT can easily clear the CMAT as well. The scores of both exams are widely accepted by more than 1,000 MBA colleges in India. 

Q: How is CAT similar to CMAT?

A: Both CAT and CMAT are conducted at national level for MBA/PGDM admissions. Both exams are computer based time bound test having questions in MCQ format from English Comprehension, Verbal Ability, Data Interpretation, Logical Reasoning and Quantitative Apitute. CMAT has two extra sections - GK and Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Q: When is the CAT exam held?

A: Common Admission Test is held in the last week of November every year. IIM releases the CAT application form in the first week of August. The CAT 2022 exam was held on November 27, 2022 and the CAT 2023 exam will be held on November 26, 2023.

Q: When is the CMAT exam held?

A: NTA usually conducted CMAT in January or February. However, since 2020, it is being conducted in March and April. CMAT 2021 was conducted in the last week of March whereas CMAT 2022 was conducted in the first week of April. CMAT 2023 may be conducted around the same time. 

Q: Can I prepare for CAT and CMAT simultaneously?

A: Yes, you can prepare for CAT and CMAT simultaneously. CAT and CMAT have common syllabus for three sections. For CMAT, candidates are additionally required to prepare for the General Awareness and Innovation & Entrepreneurship sections.

Q: What is the difficulty level of the General Awareness section in CMAT?

A: The General Awareness section of CMAT is considered the toughest section. However, the other four compulsory sections are of moderate difficulty level, much easier as compared to that of CAT.

Q: Is there any sectional time limit in CAT?

A: CAT had a sectional time limit of 40 minutes for each. Candidates have to solve each sectioon within the time limit as the moment 40 minutes are over for a section the page moves to the next section automatically.

Q: Is there any sectional time limit in CMAT like in CAT?

A: No. CMAT does not have any sectional time limit. Candidates can navigate across sections while taking CMAT. However, it is recommended that candidates time themselves well so that they are able to solve wnough number of questions in each section of CMAT.

Q: Does IIMs accept CMAT score for admission?

A: No, the IIMs do not accept any MBA entrance exam score other than CAT, which is their own exam, also conducted for admission to 1000 other MBA colleges in India. 

Q: Can I prepare for CMAT using CAT study material?

A: Although CMAT is easier than CAT, both the exams share a syllabus for three sections. Candidates can prepare for CMAT using CAT books and study material. However, they will have to prepare for the GK and Innovation & Entrepreneurship section separately as they are not a part of CAT syllabus. 

Q: Which section of CMAT has the maximum weightage?

A: All the sections in CMAT are weighted equally. Each section as per the CMAT test structure comprises 20 questions of 4 marks each. So, each section of CMAT has 20 questions of 80 marks. There is a negative marking of -1 for incorrect answers in each section. 
About the Author
Vipra Shrivastava
Senior Manager - Content

Vipra is a binge TV watcher and a massive Breaking Bad fan. When not watching TV, she spends time in updating the list of places she wants to visit and people she wants to meet, but she is happiest in the company of... Read Full Bio


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