Monday, 22 Apr 2024

Difference between CAT and GMAT

Are you planning to apply for an MBA programme but are not sure whether you should take the CAT or the GMAT test? To simplify, the key difference between the CAT and GMAT is based on your preferred location of pursuing your MBA. If you prefer to study in India, then the CAT is more favourable; however, if you wish to go abroad, then the GMAT has a better scope. 

However, did you know that a few universities and business schools abroad accept the CAT and a few Indian business schools also accept the GMAT exam? Confused? Hence, it is better to know the difference between these two tests before you register and prepare for the one that suits your goals the most.

 Read this article to learn more about the difference between the CAT and GMAT tests.

CAT vs GMAT – Which is Better?

The GMAT – Graduate Management Admissions Test – is conducted globally by GMAC and is accepted by over 2300 business schools all over the world. On the contrary, the CAT is also an entrance test developed by the Indian Institute of Management and is an Indian entrance exam widely accepted by business schools in India. 

While both tests are used to gauge your critical thinking and problem-solving skills, there are significant differences in their structure and scoring. Hence, let’s dive deeper into the difference between CAT and GMAT to understand which suits your goals the most.

 The key differences are as follows:

Parameters CAT  GMAT
Eligibility You must have a bachelor’s degree with 50% aggregate marks or must be in the final year of your undergraduate studies. Can be taken anytime. However, you should be 18+. If you’re in the age group 13 to 17 you can take the test after receiving parental permission.
Duration Total duration 3 hours or 180 minutes in two slots. The total GMAT time is 3 hours and 7 7 minutes or 187 minutes.
Structure Includes a total of 100 MCs divided into the following topics:

  • Quantitative aptitude
  • Data interpretation and logical reasoning
  • Verbal ability and reading comprehension 
The GMAT has four sections as follows:

  • Analytical Writing Assessment – Essay in 30 minutes
  • Integrated Reasoning – 12 MCQs in  30 minutes
  • Quantitative Reasoning – 31 MCQs in 60 minutes
  • Verbal Reasoning – 36 MCQs in 60 minutes
Scores Scored out of 300 with each question weighing 3 marks. Also has a negative marking of 1 point for each incorrect answer. Total Score range 200-800. Scores of each section are as follows:

  • AWA – 0 to 6
  • IR – 1 to 8 
  • Quant – 6 to 51
  • Verbal – 6 to 51
Validity Valid for one year Valid for five years
Exam Dates The CAT is conducted by IIM once a year. You need to file your application in August and attend the test in the last week of November or in some cases, in the first week of December. The GMAT test is held all around the year and can be scheduled any time except for public holidays. Furthermore, you’re even allowed multiple attempts if you’re not pleased with your scores.
Scope While the CAT exam is mostly accepted by the IIMs and most business schools in India. It is also accepted by a few international business schools. They are as follows:

  • EDHEC Business School
  • ESSEC Business School
  • ESCP Business School
  • Emlyon Business School
  • Skema Business School
The GMAT is widely accepted by universities and business schools all over the world for admissions to their MBA and other business management programmes. A few Indian business schools that accept the GMAT are as follows:

  • Indian School of Business
  • XLRI Jamshedpur
  • IIM Indore
  • IIM Ahmedabad


All in all, you should remember to prepare well for any entrance exam that you may choose to take. And, if time and resources permit you to study for both these tests, you should opt to do that. By studying for both tests, you reduce your overall risk of missing out on applications to schools in India or abroad. Moreover, since the skills needed for one exam compliments the other, you could prepare more effectively. For instance, while the quantitative aptitude required for CAT is slightly more challenging than the GMAT, the verbal reasoning section and AWA section of the GMAT are tougher than that of CAT. When you prepare for both exams you can apply what you have learned from one exam to the other and improve your overall performance.

Now that we have explained to you the difference between CAT and GMAT exams — from the eligibility criteria to the score validity, the sections of the exams to the scope of the exam, to the GRE time and GMAT time and more, you’re better positioned to decide which is a better option for your higher education needs.