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CAT vs GMAT is one of the biggest dilemmas for students who are aspiring to pursue Management education in the top business schools. At the heart of this dilemma is the bigger question of whether to pursue an MBA from an Indian university or a global business school. Both CAT and GMAT act as ladders to success in the Management field, however, the one you choose actually determines your career goals. So, we have come up with a comprehensive guide to challenge CAT vs GMAT and critically analyze both the exams.

Full-FormCommon Admission TestGraduate Management Admission Test
Conducting Organisation Indian Institute of Management (IIM)Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC)
EligibilityBachelor’s degree with a minimum of 50% marksCandidate must be of at least 13 years of age
FrequencyOnce every year Round the year
Validity 1 year 5 years 
Acceptance Indian Business Schools Global Business Schools 
Mode of ExamOnline Online 
Exam Duration180 minutes 187 minutes 
Number of questions asked100 Questions
VARC: 34DILR: 32 QA: 34 
QR: 31VR: 36IR: 12AWA: 1
Number of sections 3
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)Quantitative Ability (QA)
Quantitative Reasoning (QR) Verbal Reasoning (VR) Analytical Writing (AW)Integrated Reasoning (IR)
Exam FeeGeneral/ NC and OBC: INR 1900
USD 250
Marking SchemeFor each correct answer: +3For each incorrect answer: -10 to 60 for Quantitative Reasoning
0 to 60 for Verbal Reasoning
0 to 6 for Analytical Writing Assessment
1 to 8 for Integrated Reasoning
Score Reporting Absolute score out of 800 and percentile score are reported tooOnly the percentile score reported

Difference Between CAT and GMAT

CAT or Common Admission Test is a competitive management level entrance examination conducted at the national level by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM). On the other hand, the GMAT or Graduate Management Admission Test is a global examination accepted by business schools across the world and conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). Both CAT and GMAT are known to be tough to crack because of the high level of competition with more than 3 lakh students taking these examinations for admission to Management programs.


Scope of CAT vs GMAT

CAT is conducted by one of the IIMs every year on a rotational basis for students planning to pursue Management courses like PGP, PGDM etc. Moreover, 1000 Business schools in the country along with a few prominent ones like Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies (JBIMS) and S. P. Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR) accept CAT scores.

On the contrary, GMAT has a wider scope with almost all international universities accepting GMAT scores for admissions. Even the world’s most reputed business schools like Harvard Business School, The Wharton School, INSEAD, MIT Sloan, Stanford Graduate School of Business recognize GMAT scores for enrolling students into their Management programs. Some of the top Indian Business schools like ISB Hyderabad and Mohali, IIM Ahmedabad and Bangalore and SPJIMR also accept GMAT scores. On average around 300 colleges accept GMAT scores.

Exam Fees, Average Fees and Average Salaries

Exam FeesThe registration and test fee notification is released generally in the months of July or August.General/EWS/NC-OBC candidates: INR 1900/-SC/ST/PWD candidates: INR 950/-
There may be additional applicable charges.
GMAT Registration Fee: $250 USDRescheduling GMAT Fee (if required): $50 USD, $100 USD or $150 USDThere may be additional applicable charges.
For additional information, you can click on the link.
Average FeesINR 12 lakhsINR 20 lakhs – 65 lakhs
Average SalaryINR 15 lakh per annumINR 65 lakh per annum

Profile Requirements

The selection process is considered to be an integral part of MBA admission with various stages in both the CAT as well as GMAT.

The admission process of CAT is comparatively tougher than universities and Business schools under GMAT because dedicated preparation is required for Group Discussion, Written Ability Test and a Personal Interview conducted after CAT. However, GMAT has simpler elements within its admission procedure like writing a Statement of Purpose, Letter of Recommendation and interviews. Thus a candidate with a good command over the language will have a distinct edge in GMAT’s selection process.

CAT vs GMAT: Level of Competition

CAT is undoubtedly a prevalent Management entrance examination for MBA aspirants with nearly 2 lakh candidates taking the exam and around 2500 seats in top 6 IIMs. This makes it highly competitive for one to score a high percentile to successfully get through the selection process.

In case we talk about GMAT, its score is accepted globally which increases the ratio of applicants to seats available and gives you a chance of getting into a prominent university. Thus the positive return on investment heavily favours the GMAT exam making it less stressful than CAT.

CAT vs GMAT: Exam Structure

Test Duration3 Hours3 Hours 7 Minutes
Total Number of Questions100 Questions80 Questions
Score Reporting Only Percentile ScoreAbsolute Score out of 800 and Percentile Score
GMAT Exam Pattern

CAT vs GMAT Difficulty Level

The overall difficulty level of the CAT is comparatively higher than GMAT because CAT’s syllabus pattern is not well defined. Therefore, you need more preparation time for CAT when conversely it is possible to score 700+ on the GMAT with just a few days of dedicated preparation. The Quantitative section of the CAT is relatively more complex than that of the GMAT. On the contrary, non-native English speakers experience a greater challenge in the Verbal section of the GMAT because of the advanced level of vocabulary used.

CAT has an objective level of difficulty whereas GMAT is an adaptive test where the difficulty level of your next question depends on your performance in the preceding question.

Number of Attempts and Validity of Score

Number of AttemptsConducted once a year and you will have to appear in the exam on the date, place and time decided by the IIMs. Moreover, there is no limit on the number of attempts. Conducted 5 times a year and there is a flexible window of dates to choose from to appear in the exam. 8 times is the overall lifetime limit. However, you can retake the GMAT after 16 days of a preceding attempt. 
Validity of Score CAT score is valid for only one yearGMAT score is valid for 5 years from the date of the qualifying examination.

CAT vs GMAT: Which is Better?

Now that you have enough information on CAT vs GMAT, it will be easier to make an informed decision. Both the examinations have their share of flexibility and limitations and it totally depends on which one are you willing to go for. If you are a fresher who wants to immediately pursue an MBA after graduation and do not wish to enrol in an international program, CAT is the preferred option. While the GMAT is for those who are aspiring to pursue MBA from the world’s best universities and Business schools. You should also keep in mind the validity of both the Management examination options. 


In terms of structure and content, both examine problem-solving and critical analysis skills in quantitative, verbal, and writing sections. The following table summarises all the necessary details regarding GRE vs GMAT.

Duration3 hours, 7 minutes3 hours, 45 minutes
AdmissionFor admission into Business SchoolsWide variety of graduate school programs
Which business schools accept these testsMore than 7000 programs at 2300 business schoolsFewer business schools
Test fee$250 (INR 18624)$205 (INR 15271)
Number of sections46
Quantitative Section1 section – 31 questions – 62 minutes 6 – 51 (scaled score)20 questions each in 2 sections – 70 minutes
Score Range of 130 – 170
Verbal Section1 section – 36 questions – 65 minutes 6 – 51 (scaled score)20 questions each in 2 sections – 60 minutes
Score Range of 130 – 170
AWA section1 essay – 30 minutes
Score Range of 0 – 6
2 essays – 60 minutes
Score Range of 0 – 6
IR section12 questions – 30 minutes
Score Range of 1 – 8
QuestionsOnce answered, the candidate cannot return to the questionCan return to a question in a section
Test Score Range200 – 800 (in 10-point increment)260 – 340 ( in 1-point increment)

It is always recommended that you include all factors when coming to a decision between CAT vs GMAT. MBA is a great opportunity, so calculate carefully while making an informed decision for a successful career ahead. You can reach out to the experts at Leverage Edu and they can help you plan out your career journey.

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