GMAT Vs CAT: Key Difference Between CAT and GMAT, Which is Easier & Tougher

GMAT Vs CAT: Key Difference Between CAT and GMAT, Which is Easier & Tougher

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Vipra
Vipra Shrivastava
Senior Manager - Content
Updated on Jul 11, 2024 17:54 IST

Is GMAT easier than CAT? Although both CAT and GMAT test the candidate’s English Language and Quantitative Ability and Logical Reasoning skills, the two are very different from each other. Which one is tougher or easier, we will discuss it in this blog. Also know the key differences between CAT and GMAT.

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Common Admission Test or CAT and Graduate Management Admission Test or GMAT are two of the top most MBA entrance tests, scores of which are accepted by all the top B-schools, including the IIMs. Most of the the other MBA entrance exams are similar to CAT, thus candidates prepare for them along with CAT. But GMAT is very different from CAT thus, one should prepare for it separately.

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The basic difference between the two is that while CAT is a domestic entrance exam; GMAT is a global exam which is valid for admission to all business schools worldwide. Conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council, GMAT scores are acceptable by Indian B-schools mostly in case of NRI/Foreign students. However, some top India institutes like SPJIMR, MumbaiXLRI JamshedpurMDI, Gurgaon accept GMAT scores of domestic candidates too. Other top MBA colleges including the IIMs accept GMAT score for admission to Executive MBA and FPM programmes. At the same time CAT is also accepted by IIMs and many other MBA colleges for Executve MBA, Phd, MPhil, FPM, etc.

Q:   What makes CAT tougher than other MBA entrance exams?

A:
CAT exam is a national level MBA entrance exam conducted by the IIM. Every year, over 2.3 Lacs candidates apply for it. The CAT score is accepted by the Iims and all top MBA colleges in India. To select the best candidates from over 2.3 Lacs test takers there is a need for tough criteria. That's why, the CAT exam is tougher than other MBA entrance exams. Even though the syllabus of CAT is same as that of other MBA entrance exams, the question paper set by the IIM faculty always has tough questions. Moreover, CAT has sectional time limit for each section which is not there in any other exam expect XAT. Having a time limit for each section adds pressure on candidates to complete solving adequate number of questions in a section within the time limit. If a student is weak in a particular subject, they can't use the time as per their need. CAT's Reading Comprehension passages are long and dense unlike other MBA exams. This is one more reason why most candidates feel CAT is tougher than any other MBA entrance exam.

Q:   Is the GRE exam easier than GMAT?

A:

The GMAT test might be easy for those go prefer logical problems instead of Geometry as there are more Geometry questions in the GRE. In addition, the Quantitative section is harder in the GMAT in comparison to the GRE. The verbal section in the GRE can be difficult for non-native English speakers. Candidates can go back and forth in the GRE test, whereas in GMAT one doesn't have the freedom to save and return to each section during the exam. The decision to choose a test for studying abroad depends on various factors such the course requirement, university requirements, current level of preparation, comfort level with the exam pattern, etc.

Q:   Do schools like Harvard prefer GRE or GMAT?

A:

Harvard accepts both GRE and GMAT scores for admission, it depends on the type, of course, you are planning to do. So, check whether your degree programme requires you to submit GRE or GMAT score before applying. Particularly, they do not give preference to one exam over another. Moreover, you must assess your comfort level with the pattern of both the exams and then make a choice. The best way to do this is to appear for mock tests, for both the exams, before you make a decision. You must also check the course and university requirements for more clarity.

CAT vs GMAT: Which is Tougher?

Both CAT and GMAT are considered to be tough. Every year over two lakh students in India take the CAT exam. Most of the candidates do not get the desired score in their first attempt in both CAT and GMAT. An equal number of MBA aspirants take the GMAT as well. Domestic candidates who plan to pursue management studies in the upcoming academic year, can take either both the exams (if they can manage to prepare for both simultaneously) or choose to appear for one of them, depending on the MBA course and institute they are targeting. Although both CAT and GMAT test the candidate’s English Language and Quantitative Ability and Logical Reasoning skills, the two are poles apart in many aspects. Here we tell you the difference between GMAT and CAT.

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GMAT vs CAT: What is the difference between the two?

Exam Conducting Body

GMAT: GMAT is conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council.

CAT:  CAT is conducted by the Indian Institute of Management.

GMAT eligibility criteria: To appear in GMAT, the aspirant must have a bachelor’s degree in any stream or equivalent degree from a recognized university. Final year graduation candidates are also eligible to apply. There is no minimum marks required to appear in GMAT.

CAT eligibility criteria: To appear in CAT, the aspirant must have a bachelor’s degree in any stream with minimum of 50 per cent aggregate marks or equivalent from a recognized university (45 per cent for reserved category students). Final year Graduation candidates are also eligible to apply.

Q:   What is the difference between GMAT and CAT?

A:

GMAT or otherwise known as the Graduate Management Admission Test and Common Admission Test or commonly referred to as CAT are the two most widely accepted management entrance tests, scores of which are accepted by all the top B-schools, including the IIMs. The basic difference, between the two, is that while CAT is a national-level entrance exam for students looking for admission to Top Business Schools in India, GMAT is held on a global level and helps students for admission to top B-Schools worldwide. Conducted by Graduate Management Admission Council, GMAT scores are acceptable mainly in the case of NRI/Foreign students who want to study in India. The IIMs accept the GMAT score of domestic candidates for executive management programmes. Candidates can learn in-depth about the difference between GMAT and CAT exams.

Q:   Which is better IIM Jammu or IIM Sambhalpur?

A:

Both IIM Jammu and IIM Sambalpur accepts CAT score for admission to the Management courses. IIMs cutoff 2023 will be released after the CAT result. However, considering the 2022 cutoff, IIM Jammu CAT percentile was 90 and for IIM Sambhalpur, the percentile stood at 92 for the General ALL India category candidates. So, considering the previous year CAT percentile for both the IIMs, Sambhalpur is more competitive than Jammu.  

Talking bout the NIRF Ranking 2023 under the Management category, IIM Jammu ranked 41, whereas, IIM Sambalpur secured the 58th position. Candidates can refer to the table given below to compare both IIM Jammu and IIM Sambalpur considering several aspects such as total MBA fees, highest package, NIRF ranking and CAT cutoff 2022 to make a clear decision:

Parameters IIM JammuIIM Sambhalpur
NIRF Management Ranking 20234158
CAT Cutoff 20229092
Total MBA feeINR 10.5 L - INR 20.7 LINR 10.5 L
Highest package 2023INR 64 LPAINR 64.61 LPA 

Frequency /Mode of Exam

GMAT: GMAT is held throughout the year. The candidate can book an exam slot for self from the given calendar as per their convenience. The aspirant can also re-take the exam five times within 12 months. A maximum of eight attempts are allowed to any candidate in his/her lifetime.

CAT:  CAT is conducted by the IIM only once a year. CAT application process begins in August and the exam is held in the last week of November or the first week of December. CAT 2024 will be held on November 24, 2024. 

CAT vs GMAT: Exam Pattern

GMAT: GMAT question paper consists MCQs from Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Integrated Reasoning and an Analytical Writing. There is sectional time limit for each section but the candidate can choose the order in which they wish to answer each section.

Also Read: GMAT exam pattern

CAT:  CAT exam is held in online mode for three hours in two slots on a scheduled date. Candidates are required to follow the chronology of the question paper, i.e. neither they can choose to answer the section of their choice, nor can they go back to the question skipped earlier. The CAT question paper consists of MCQs and a few key-in answer type questions.

Also Read: CAT exam pattern.

CAT vs GMAT: Exam Syllabus

GMAT syllabus: GMAT assesses a candidate on Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Integrated Reasoning and the Analytical Writing Assessment. 

CAT syllabus:  CAT syllabus includes topics from Quantitative Aptitude (QA), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)

Also Read:

CAT vs GMAT: Exam Duration

GMAT: GMAT is held for 187 minutes and has sectional time limit.

CAT:  CAT is held for 120 minutes and has sectional time limit.

CAT vs GMAT: Difficulty Level

GMAT

GMAT is the toughest MBA entrance exam. Not only due to the tough questions asked but also due to a peculiar marking scheme. However, it is easier to get a good college through GMAT as it is an adaptive test. Which means, depending upon the candidate's performance in the first attempt, the difficulty level of their second attempt question paper is determined. If a candidate has struggled in the first attempt, he/she will get the question paper of lower difficulty level in their next attempt and if the candidate has performed well in the first attempt, the question paper of their second attempt will have similar difficulty level. 

CAT

CAT is known as a tough MBA exam. The difficulty level of the questions remain on the higher side year on year. Getting a good B-school with CAT score is tough if you've not scored a minimum of 95 percentile. There are no multiple attempts in CAT, so to improve the score candidates have to drop a year. However, there is no guarantee that in the next year, the CAT question paper will be easier than previous year. 

CAT vs GMAT: Marking Scheme

GMAT: GMAT has a peculiar marking scheme. Candidates are marked between 200 and 800. Section wise, candidates are scored 0-6 for Analytical Writing Assessment, 1-8 for Integrated Reasoning, 0-60 for Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning.

Also Read: GMAT scoring process

CAT: The CAT used to be a 100-question exam till 2019, but in 2020 the number of questions reduced to 76. The CAT exam in 2021, had 66 questions carrying three marks each for right answer. There is negative marking of one mark for each wrong answer. Total marks of CAT is 198. 

Also Read: CAT score vs percentile

CAT vs GMAT: Exam Fee

GMAT: GMAT exam fee is USD 250 for all countries.

CAT:  CAT exam fee is INR 2,400 for General and NC-OBC candidates and INR 1,200 for Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Physically Disabled candidates.

Validity of Exam Score

GMAT: GMAT score is accepted by more than 2,100 management institutes across the globe. GMAT score is valid for admission for up to five years.

CAT: CAT score is accepted by 21 IIMs and over 1,100 management institutes in India. It is not valid outside India. CAT score is valid for admission for only one year.

Also Read:

CAT_Mock_Test_1 CAT_Mock_Test_1_Solutions
CAT_Mock_Test_Set_2 CAT_Mock_Test_2_Solutions

Is GMAT easier than CAT? An Overview

Before concluding this blog, let us take a quick glance at how GMAT and CAT are different from each other to assess which one is more difficult:

Features

GMAT

CAT

Exam Full Form

Graduate Management Admission Test

Common Admission Test

Conducting body

Graduate Management Admission Council

Indian Institute of Management

Validity

Global/for five years

In India only, valid for only one year

Eligibility

No minimum percentage required in bachelor’s degree

Bachelor’s degree with minimum of 50% marks

Frequency

Anytime of the year

Once a year (November end or December beginning)

Mode of Exam

Online

Online

Exam Sections

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Integrated Reasoning
  • Analytical Writing Assessment
  • Quantitative Aptitude
  • Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning
  • Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension

Number of sections

4

3

Number of questions

80 Questions

66 questions

Exam Duration

187 minutes

120 minutes

Sectional time limit

  • Quantitative Reasoning: 62 minutes
  • Verbal Reasoning: 65 minutes
  • Integrated Reasoning: 30 minutes
  • Analytical Writing Assessment: 30 minutes

40 minutes for each section

Difficulty level

High

High

Marking Scheme

  • 0-6 for Analytical Writing Assessment
  • 1-8 for Integrated Reasoning
  • 0-60 for Verbal Reasoning and
  • 0-60 for Quantitative Reasoning
  • 3 for correct answer
  • -1 for incorrect answer

Exam Fee

USD 250

  • General and NC-OBC: INR 2,400
  • SC/ST/PWD (DA): INR 1,200

Read More:

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:

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FAQs on CAT vs GMAT

q: Is GMAT easier than CAT?

A: The difficulty level of both CAT and GMAT exams is high. However, GMAT is considered easier than CAT as it has a predefined syllabus unlike CAT. Also, in GMAT candidates can make multiple attempts. Moreover, GMAT is an adaptive test so with subsequent session, the difficulty level of the test is increased or decreased as per their performance in the first session.

Q: Which is more candidate friendly? CAT or GMAT?

A: GMAT is considered more candidate friendly as it allows candidates five attempts. CAT on the other hand is conducted on annually on a single day. In GMAT, there is flexibility of choosing the day and slot of the exam, on the other hand CAT is conducted on a single day for all candidates.

Q: What is the major difference between CAT and GMAT?

A: Some of the main differences between CAT and GMAT are listed below:

  • CAT candidates get only one attempt in a year whereas GMAT candidates get five attempts.
  • CAT score is valid for one year only whereas, GMAT score is valid for five years.
  • CAT is conducted on a single day for all applicants. GMAT candidates can choose exam day and slot as per convenience.
  • CAT score is valid for admission to MBA colleges in India only, while GMAT score is valid for admission to MBA colleges in India and abroad.

Q: What is the fees of GMAT exam for Indian students?

A: The fees of GMAT is USD 250 which is approximately for INR 17,700 Indians students is approximately. This fee amount includes 5 attempts that candidates can make in GMAT.

Q: Which top MBA colleges in India accept GMAT scores?

A: About 50 MBA colleges in India accept GMAT score including the IIMs, IIFT Delhi, MDI Gurgaon, XLRI Jamshedpur, SPJIMR Mumbai, IMT Ghaziabad, IMI Delhi, ISB Hyderabad, Great Lakes Institute of Management, KJSIMSR Mumbai, XUB Bhubaneswar, BIMTECH Noida, etc. 

Q: How many times can I take GMAT?

A: A candidate can take GMAT five times a year as per their convenience with one time registration. Exam score of the latest appearance will be taken as valid for admission.

Q: Is there an option of retake in CAT exam?

A: No, there is no option of retake in CAT exam. If a candidate is dissatisfied with their CAT score of the current year, they will have to take the exam next year to improve score.

Q: How different is CAT syllabus from GMAT syllabus?

A: GMAT syllabus includes Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Integrated Reasoning and the Analytical Writing Assessment, while CAT syllabus includes topics from Quantitative Aptitude (QA), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC).

Q: Which exam offers more options of MBA colleges in India. CAT or GMAT?

A: Since CAT is a national level exam and GMAT a global exam, the former offers more options of MBA colleges in India. Over 1,100 MBA colleges in India accept CAT score for MBA admission. On the other hand, only a handful of tier-1 MBA colleges in India accept GMAT score (domestic candidates) for admission.

is GMAT and CAT syllabus same?

A: GMAT syllabus is similar to CAT syllabus. Both include, English, Reasoning and Quants. However, the nature of questions are different. 

GMAT syllabus are categorised as Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Integrated Reasoning and the Analytical Writing Assessment.  CAT syllabus includes Quantitative Aptitude (QA), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC). 

About the Author
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Vipra Shrivastava
Senior Manager - Content

Vipra is a massive Breaking Bad fan. When not watching crime drama series, 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 dogs. ... Read Full Bio