• By Smriti
  • Posted July 12, 2017


One of the biggest questions that arise after finishing graduation- do you want to pursue masters?

Most of us, yes, we want that Master’s degree.  We have worked hard for 4 years earning that bachelor’s degree with good grades, extracurricular activities, and personal growth- we know we have totally earned that MBA.

But to actually get into a B-school, we have heard there are two big monsters- and we have to choose to fight one- the CAT or GMAT. Most of us get a headache hearing these terms in the same sentence.

Fret not! We are here to break it down for you, in the simplest terms possible.

By the end of this article, you shall understand how both tests work, their utility, and if you want to give one of these in the near future- you would understand which one you would go for.

The Common Admission Test, popularly known as CAT is an Indian Management examination for admissions into business schools across the country. The applicants are tested on their Quantitative Ability (QA), Verbal Ability (VA), Reading Comprehension (RC), Data Interpretation (DI), and Logical Reasoning (LR).

The GMAT, short for Graduate Management Admission Test, however, is an internationally accepted Management examination conducted worldwide. It is accepted in over 2,100 Schools for more than 5,000 courses.

While the CAT exam structure is broad and has only an outline for syllabus, GMAT tests you on selected topics and the syllabus is fixed.

The GMAT consists of 90 multiple choice questions and One essay prompt- a total score of 800- to be done in 3 hours and 30 minutes, whereas CAT consists of 100 multiple choice questions- a total score of 300- to be done in 3 hours.

It is said that Quantitative Section of CAT is more difficult than that of GMAT; Verbal Ability Section of GMAT is more difficult than that of CAT. This is a great power play you can use to your strength. If you are good at Quant and average at Verbal ability, you should go for CAT and vice versa.

GMAT is a globally accepted score, almost all Indian B-Schools accept GMAT scores; CAT scores, on the other hand, are only accepted by IIMs and affiliated B-Schools across the country. If you plan to go abroad, or have backup options open, consider GMAT as a better option.

While CAT happens only once a year on a fixed date, GMAT happens 5 times a year. This gives you an opportunity to retry when you think you have not scored up to the mark.

CAT scores are valid for that session only whereas GMAT scores are valid for a period of 5 years.

The CAT costs Rs. 1600 per attempt while GMAT costs $250 (Approximately Rs. 16,000) per attempt.

There are a few other factors that can help you decide what exam suits you best-

  • The Schools you want to apply to- This is a major factor in test selection; if the school you are applying for accepts both CAT and GMAT scores, go for GMAT since it helps you keep other options open.
  • Your work experience- GMAT usually requires you to have at least two years work experience to apply to most B-Schools outside India. So this is an important factor you should consider before selecting a test.
  • The validity of the score- As stated earlier, CAT scores are only valid for one session and the exam is conducted only once a year; if you do not score up to the mark you have to wait a whole year before you can appear again. Whereas GMAT scores are valid got a period of 5 years and the exam can be taken up to 5 times a year; also, Schools can access your past GMAT scores and go for the best one which is an added bonus.


Baseline, both exams are good at serving their purpose.

But a good cat score implies 80% of the work to get into a B-School is done; whereas a good GMAT score is just 20% of a holistic application to a top B-School.


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