GMAT vs CAT: Which Exam do you want to Write? (Part 4) MBA Series


gmat vs cat which is best
gmat vs cat which is best


Till Now we have discussed a lot about MBA in the previous 3 parts of our MBA-series and you can check out the parts if you have missed them here :- MBA-SERIES

So far you must be in a dilemma that whether to write Common Admission Test (CAT) or GMAT® by Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC®). Though both the tests are well known and well respected in the industry. CAT has been a management entrance exam primarily focusing on the Indian Institutes, including the prestigious Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), whereas GMAT® focuses on globally accredited MBA programmes including one-year MBA and Executive MBA programmes. So here is what you need to know about both the Exams and what avenues do each opens to the prospective students.

Common Admission Test (CAT)

The Common Admission Test (CAT) is an all-India test conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) as an entrance exam for admission to their Post-graduate and Fellow Programs in management courses. CAT is also used by several management institutes all over India including the IIMs. Each institute use CAT score separately along with other parameters i.e. academic performance, work experience, group discussion, written assessment and interview performance etc. to select candidates. The weightage assigned to CAT score may differ for each institute.

Eligibility Criteria: The candidate must be a graduate with 50% marks or equivalent CGPA (45% in case of SC/ST/DA/PWD) or possess an equivalent qualification recognized by the ministry of HRD, Government of India. Candidates appearing for the final year of bachelor’s degree / equivalent qualification examination and those who have completed degree requirements and are awaiting results can also apply.

Test Duration & Pattern (CAT 2014)

Section No. of Questions Duration
 Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation
502 hrs. 50 mins
 Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning
Total 1002 hrs. 50 mins


Exam Format: CAT is a computer based test, conducted in multiple cities across India. You need to register yourself for the exam, which normally start in August and goes up till September/October.

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Colleges under CAT: There is no doubt that CAT is one of the most popular entrance exams for MBA/PGPM programs in India. It’s the basic requirement for being considered for admission process at IIMs. Apart from the present 13 IIMs, the Government has decided to open six new IIMs, one each in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Bihar, Odisha, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. Apart for IIMs, there are other well reputed Institutes that accept CAT score for their respective admission process. Some of those are S.P. Jain Institute of Management Research, Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) Delhi, MDI Gurgaon, IMI Delhi, XIM-B, TAPMI, DMS (IIT-Delhi), VGSOM (IIT Kharagpur), SJMSOM (IIT-Bombay), MICA Ahmedabad, IMT Ghaziabad and NITIE.



Synopsis of the Test

TypeComputer-based test
Developer /administratorJointly conducted by the IIMs. Every year one IIM takes charge for conducting CAT
Knowledge/skill(s) testedQuantitative ability, data interpretation, verbal ability and logical reasoning
Admission to post-graduate management programs (MBA etc.) in various Indian universities and colleges across India
Duration2 hours and 50 minutes
Score validity1 Year
Test Offering windowOnce a year
Fees1600 for general category candidates. 800 for test takers in the SC / ST / DA (PWD) categories


GMAT® by Graduate Management Admission Test

GMAT® is a computer adaptive test conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) assessing analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills for the admission to a graduate management program, such as an MBA across the world. Exam assesses analytical writing and problem-solving abilities, while also addressing data sufficiency, logic, and critical reasoning skills that it believes to be vital to real-world business and management success. More than 5,900 programs offered by more than 2,100 universities and institutions use the GMAT exam as part of the selection criteria for their programs. Business schools use the test as a criterion for admission into a wide range of graduate management programs, including MBA, Master of Accountancy, and Master of Finance programs. The exam is conducted across authorized centers in over 112 countries around the world.

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Test Duration & Pattern

GMAT Test Section# of QuestionsQuestion Types
Analytical Writing Assessment1 TopicAnalysis of Argument30 Minutes
Integrated Reasoning12 QuestionsMulti-Source Reasoning
Graphics Interpretation
Two-Part Analysis
Table Analysis
30 Minutes
Quantitative37 QuestionsData Sufficiency
Problem Solving
75 Minutes
Verbal41 QuestionsReading Comprehension
Critical Reasoning
Sentence Correction
75 Minutes
Total Exam Time  3hrs, 30 minutes


The quantitative and verbal sections of the GMAT exam are both multiple-choice and are administered in the computer-adaptive format, adjusting to a test taker’s level of ability. At the start of the quantitative and verbal sections, test takers are presented with a question of average difficulty. As questions are answered correctly, the computer presents the test taker with increasingly difficult questions and as questions are answered incorrectly the computer presents the test taker with questions of decreasing difficulty. This process continues until test takers complete each section, at which point the computer will have an accurate assessment of their ability level in that subject area and come up with a raw score for each section.


Whereas Analytical Writing Assessment tests reasoning behind a given argument, the essay will be given two independent ratings and these ratings are averaged together to determine the test taker’s AWA score. One rating is given by a computerized reading evaluation and another is given by a person at GMAC who will read and score the essay themselves without knowledge of what the computerized score was. The analytical writing assessment is graded on a scale of 1 (the minimum) to 6 (the maximum) in half-point intervals (a score of zero means the answer was gibberish or obviously not written on the assigned topic or the test taker failed to write anything at all on the AWA).

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Integrated Reasoning (IR) is a relatively new section (introduced in June 2012) designed to measure a test taker’s ability to evaluate data presented in multiple formats from multiple sources. This section consists of 12 questions, consisting of graphics interpretation, two-part analysis, table analysis, and multi-source reasoning. Integrated reasoning scores range from 1-8. Like the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), this section is scored separately from the quantitative and verbal section. Performance on the IR and AWA sections do not contribute to the total GMAT score.


GMAT® Scoring pattern

The total GMAT score ranges from 200 to 800 with Scores are given in increments of 10 (e.g. 570, 580, 590, etc.). The average GMAT score of all test takers is about 540. Business schools place their emphasis on the test taker’s combined quantitative and verbal score because it is this score that gets reported when the schools publish their class profiles of the students they admit into their program.


Synopsis of the Test

TypeComputer-based test
Developer /administratorGraduate Management Admission Council
Knowledge/skill(s) testedQuantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, integrated reasoning, analytical writing.
PurposeAdmissions in graduate management programs of business schools.
Duration3 hours and 50 minutes
Score validity5 Year
Test Offering windowMultiple times a year
FeesUS$ 250


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