What is the Difference Between GMAT and CAT?

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Vipra Shrivastava
Manager - Content
Updated on May 16, 2022 18:07 IST

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.

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Common Admission Test or CAT and Graduate Management Admission Test or GMAT are two of the top most 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; GMAT is a global exam, scores of which, are accepted by all business schools worldwide. Conducted by Graduate Management Admission Council, GMAT scores are acceptable mainly in case of NRI/Foreign students in India. However, some top India institutes like SPJIMR, MumbaiXLRI JamshedpurMDI, Gurgaon accept GMAT scores of domestic candidates too. In India, most of the institutes accept GMAT score for admission to Executive MBA programmes.

Both CAT and GMAT are considered to be tough nuts to crack. Every year over two lakh students in India take CAT exam. About 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 or choose to appear for one of them, depending on the MBA course and institute they shortlist. 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. This article will tell you what is the difference between GMAT and CAT exam.

What is the difference between GMAT and CAT exam?

Exam Conducting Body

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

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

GMAT eligibility criteria: To appear in GMAT, the aspirant must have a bachelor’s degree in any stream or equivalent 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% marks or equivalent from a recognized university. Final year Graduation candidates are also eligible to apply.

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 first week of December.

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. The 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 incomplete question skipped earlier. The CAT question paper consists of MCQs and a few key-in answer type questions. Also Read: CAT exam pattern.

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:

Exam Duration

GMAT: GMAT is held for 187 minutes.

CAT:  CAT is held for 180 minutes. 

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.

CAT: CAT is known as a tough MBA exam. The difficulty level of the questions remain on the higher side year on year.

Marking Scheme

GMAT: GMAT has a peculiar marking scheme. The 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: tThe CAT used to be a 100-question exam till 2019, but in 2020 the number of questions reduced. The CAT exam now has 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

Exam Fee

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

CAT:  CAT exam fee is INR 2200 for General and NC-OBC candidates and INR 1100 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 all the 20 IIMs and over 1,100 management institutes in India. CAT score is valid for admission for only one year.

Also Read:

GMAT preparation tips

CAT preparation tips

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

Free CAT Mock Test 1

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

Free CAT Mock Test 2

Difference Between CAT and GMAT

Before concluding, let us take quick glance at how GMAT and CAT are different from each other: 

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 2200
  • SC/ST/PWD (DA): INR 1100

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:

Predict CAT Admission Calls

FAQs on difference between CAT and GMAT

Q: Which exam is tougher? CAT or GMAT?

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.

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, 7000 Indians students is approx.

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

Q: How many times can I take GMAT?

A: A candidate can take GMAT five times a year as per their convenience. 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 for admission.

Q: What is the minimum marks required to appear for GMAT?

A: There is no minimum marks requirement to appear for GMAT. The candidate must have completed graduation from a recognised university.

Q: Can I take GMAT from home?

A: Yes, due to COVID-19 pandemic, GMAC has introduced the facility of taking the test from home. These exam are remotely proctored so that students complete the test on time and do not resort to any sort of malpractice.
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Vipra Shrivastava
Manager - Content

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

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