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The admission processes of postgraduate programmes offered in India as well as abroad are increasingly becoming highly diversified and competitive. But ability-testing exams such as the GRE, GMAT or CAT have significantly established themselves as staple sections of the general admission process of various courses and are also the most popular MBA entrance exams. They help academic institutions in assessing the candidate’s problem-solving, analytical along with comprehension and writing skills in a time-bound manner. GRE and CAT are one of the most popular competitive exams in India. For those aspiring for higher studies, these two exams have become crucial to apply for master’s degree programs in India or abroad. In this blog, we aim to challenge GRE vs CAT in order to segregate their distinctive features and critically analyze these exams.

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GRE vs CAT: Overview

While the GRE focuses on testing the suitability of candidates for wide-ranging master’s programmes all around the world, including to some extent in India, CAT limits itself to Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs in Indian institutions. The syllabi of CAT and GMAT are almost alike with quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning and writing sections included in both these exams. Moreover, it should not be assumed that the GRE score is not applicable for MBA admissions as there is no such mandatoriness. Many institutions accept the GRE scores in lieu of GMAT and it is advised that students peruse individual admission requirements carefully.

Credits – Ujjwal Kumar Sen

GRE vs CAT: Key Differences

To comprehend the basic differences, here is a table listing down the key highlights of GRE vs CAT:

Conducting AuthorityEducational Testing
Service (ETS)
Indian Institutes of
Management (IIMs)
AvailabilityAll Year Round
(first-come-first-serve basis)
Only once per year
EligibilityNo eligibility criteria. 
However, typically
applicable for master’s programs
A bachelor’s degree is
General: 50%
SC/ST/PwD: 45%
Type of TestComputer-Adaptive Test (sectional)Linear Computer Test
Sections1. Verbal Reasoning (2 sections);
2. Quantitative Reasoning
(2 sections); 
3. Analytical Writing
1. Verbal Ability &
Reading Comprehension; 
2. Data Interpretation &
Logical Reasoning; 
3. Quantitative Section
Maximum Score340300
Score Validity5 years1 year
Time3 hours 45 minutes 3 hours


When it comes to elaborating the distinction between GRE vs CAT, eligibility is a major point of difference. In particular, there is no set criteria of eligibility for GRE exam. The application portal is open throughout the year and one can register according to preference. However, program eligibility conditions may require an applicant to possess a post-secondary qualification depending on the nature of the intended degree course. On the other hand, to appear for the CAT exam, it is compulsory for prospective applicants to have secured at least 50% score in the undergraduate degree program barring SC/ST/PwD applicants who are required to possess 45%.

Difficulty Level for Different Sections

The GRE Exam Syllabus includes three main sections: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing. On the other hand, the CAT is a comprehensive version with sections of verbal ability & reading comprehension, data interpretation and & logical reasoning along with a strenuous quantitative ability section. It should be noted though, that the GRE tests data interpretation and logical reasoning as part of its quantitative reasoning section. To explore the differences between the syllabi of GRE vs CAT in a detailed manner, below we have elaborated the sections of these two exams:

Quantitative Reasoning/Data Interpretation/Logical Reasoning

It can be said that GRE Quant Syllabus and the CAT syllabus are a lot similar when it comes to the objective of examining a candidate’s quantitative and mathematical aptitude though the questions and difficulty level may considerably vary. The difficulty level of CAT quantitative section is higher as it tests a candidate’s problem-solving skills in a crunch time-bound environment.

Verbal Ability/Reasoning 

Similar to how quantitative sections differ in syllabus and questions, the verbal portions fair considerably in the same way. The GRE exam includes three sub-sections, namely sentence equivalence, text completion and comprehension. On the other hand, the CAT verbal reasoning section includes questions on sentence correction, reading comprehension, fill in the blanks or identification, appropriate usage of words, the odd one out, amongst others. Unlike CAT, the GRE extensively focuses on testing the vocabulary of the candidates.

GRE vs CAT: Top Universities & Business Schools

The GRE exam is applicable for all master’s level courses offered at universities in USA, UK, Europe, Australia and many other countries around the world. However, the number of Indian institutions accepting GRE has been increasing with ISB being the frontrunner. CAT applicability ranges from the central Indian institutions like IIMs, IITs and Delhi University as well as several state level and private institutions. 


Which is tougher GRE or CAT?

GRE is considered as a much tougher exam than CAT by many test-takers as GRE syllabus is more intensive and assesses students in every aspect from Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Aptitude to Analytical Writing. The CAT syllabus is easier to cover in this sense as it encompasses three main sections on Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning and Quantitative Aptitude.

Is GRE preparation enough for CAT?

As the syllabus of CAT overlaps with GRE largely, you can utilise your rigorous GRE preparation for CAT exam as well. Moreover, taking both these tests are also advisable for third year undergraduates as having GRE and CAT scores will help you explore better master’s degree programs in India and abroad.

What is the syllabus of CAT?

The CAT exam syllabus is constituted of three main sections, i.e.
1. Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension
2. Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning
3. Quantitative Aptitude

What is the syllabus of GRE?

The GRE syllabus has three main sections:
1. Verbal Reasoning
2. Quantitative Aptitude
3. Analytical Writing

Thus, we hope that this blog helped you understand the major differences between GRE vs CAT. Both these competitive exams require students to have a planned approach to ace them successfully and secure your seat at the university of choice. If you are preparing for a competitive exam, the experts at Leverage Edu can guide you throughout the process, helping you master every section to crack the test and get successfully shortlisted in your dream university.

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