You’ve either completed your graduation or still completing it, you have plans to get into big business schools to pursue an MBA and you can’t get your mind to deciding what entrance exam should you prepare for, let me guess the top two options you’re stuck is CAT vs GMAT.

You not alone, many aspirants like you find it difficult, rather confusing to decide what exam they should prepare for, but today’s your lucky day. Today we are going to dissect, compare and differentiate both these exams you help you better understand them and make the right choice.

Let us start by understanding and breaking down different aspects of it


Scopes, Syllabus, Exam Pattern, Eligibility, Difficulty, Validity and Fees

By Pavan Somwanshi

CAT vs GMAT: Scopes

CAT exam is given by candidates who wish to pursue MBA in India. CAT is conducted by IIMs on a rotational basis. CAT scores can get you admission into top colleges like the IIMs, FMS, and JBIMS: not just these more than 500 business schools in India accept CAT scores.

Image Source: Crack Verbal

While CAT is more recognized domestically, GMAT serves a greater scope globally. GMAT scores are accepted by top universities such as Harvard University & Massachusetts Institute of Technology along with more than 2000 other schools. 

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CAT vs GMAT: Mode, Attempts & Marking Schemes

CAT is a computer-based exam and can be attempted once a year with no limitation on the number of attempts or age limit. Following a simple marking pattern, it awards +3 marks for every correct answer and a penalty of 1 mark for every wrong answer.

GMAT is an online, computer-based exam that allows aspirants to attempt it at most 8 times in their lifetime and 5 times in a year. Candidates are marked between the range of 200 to 800. Each section has a different marking pattern: 0 to 6 for analytical writing, 1 to 8 for integrated reasoning, and 6 to 51 for verbal and quantitative reasoning.

CAT vs GMAT: Syllabus and Exam Pattern

CAT Exam Pattern

The IIM-CAT syllabus covers all of the important topics in business aptitude and communication, There are total of 100 questions & the topics are covered under the subjects of 

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)

– Includes Long & Short Passages, Jumbled Paragraphs, Para-summary, Picking the Out of context sentence from a jumbled paragraph with an overall weightage of 34%

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)

– Includes Data Charts, Data Tables, Bar Graphs, Venn Diagrams, Seating arrangement, Team formation, Clocks & Calendars & other data interpretation topics with an overall weightage of 32%.

Quantitative Aptitude (QA)

– Includes Arithmetic, Modern Maths, Number System, Algebra, Mensuration, Trigonometry, Geometry with an overall weightage of 34%

Despite the fact that the exam pattern has changed several times over the years, the CAT exam syllabus has remained the same. The CAT entrance exam syllabus is not clearly specified or published by IIMs.  Instead, the IIMs issue an official Mock Test that is aligned with the upcoming CAT exam topics and includes question types that may be included in the actual CAT Exam. CAT toppers advise that 5-6 months are required to complete the CAT syllabus. However, it depends upon your learning speed, practice, and consistent improvement. 

GMAT Exam Pattern

The GMAT exam tests the analytical and reasoning skills of students. The overall GMAT syllabus is divided into 4 sections

Integrated Reasoning (IR)

– Involves 12 questions from multi-source reasoning, graphic integration, two-part analysis, and table analysis with a time limit of 30 minutes

Quantative Reasoning (QR)

– Involves 31 questions based on Data sufficiency and problem-solving. The time duration to complete this section is 62 minutes.

Verbal Reasoning (VR)

– Involves 36 questions on reading comprehension, critical reasoning and sentence correction with a time limit of 65 minutes.

Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)

– Involves 1 topic analysis of an argument. The arguments on the test include topics of general interest related to business, or a variety of other subjects. The duration to complete this section is 30 minutes.

You are also allowed to take two breaks of 8 minutes, which is optional and according to the section you have chosen. This pretty much sums up the contents of the GMAT exam.

CAT vs GMAT Difficulty

CAT is a highly competitive and most important MBA entrance exam in India. The difficulty level of CAT is considered moderate to high & on the other side of the bridge, GMAT is considered to be the toughest MBA entrance exam. Both of them have a different way of testing as CAT has a predecided question difficulty format determining its difficulty while what makes GMAT the toughest is peculiar marking scheme. CAT is where your theoretical knowledge is tested while in GMAT you are tested more on your logical reasoning abilities. 

CAT vs GMAT: Eligibility

In order to attempt CAT, the applicant is required to have a bachelor’s degree with at least a score of 50% from a recognized or equivalent institute. Students who are in their final year of a bachelor’s degree program are eligible to appear for this exam as well.

Unlike CAT, GMAT is less restrictive as anyone above the age of 18 is eligible to give this exam. If you are below 18 ie. 13-18 then with parental permission you can appear for the GMAT exam.

CAT vs GMAT: Validity

A popular question that hovers in the mind of many applicants is for how long will the scores be valid? Well, the GMAT score is valid for 5 years. On the other hand, CAT score is only valid for one year, after which candidates will have to take the following years’ CAT exam for admissions in respective institutes.

CAT vs GMAT: Fees

The CAT application fee for the General category is Rs 2000 and for SC/ ST/ PwD category candidates is Rs 1000. A notification is released by IIMs usually in the month of July or August regarding the updates.

The fee for the GMAT exam is $250. Candidates have to register and pay the registration fee separately for attending the exam each time. The GMAT exam fees in India is approximately INR 18,200.


When we talk about CAT the scholarships to look out for are the ones offered by IIMs. As you must be aware the fees of these prestigious institutes are anywhere between 10 – 23 lakhs & not every aspirant would be comfortable paying such huge fees and that’s where a scholarship can be helpful. IIM scholarships are given to candidates with outstanding academic performance, financially delicate students, or other eligible and worthy candidates. The majority of IIMs offer government-aided, and special scholarships to enrolled students based on their CAT scores, academic achievement, and financial situation.

Lets have a look at some of the scholarships offered by IIMs

IIM Ahmedabad

With the vision that financial restriction shouldn’t stand in the way of a student and his dreams, IIM Ahmedabad aspires to give the opportunity to pursue its programs to all eligible applicants, in need of financial assistance. It is a need-based scholarship.

Each year, the scheme provides considerable financial assistance to students. The scholarship amount is determined by a variety of factors, including annual gross family income, assets, and the household size of the family. The applications for these scholarships are invited every year in the month of July or August.

Industry scholarships such as The Aditya Birla Scholarships and the Sir Ratan Tata Scholarships are given by the Institute to students depending on their academic performance.

IIM Banglore

With the vision that no student should be left off from education at an institute because of financial reasons, IIM Banglore provides various scholarship opportunities. PGP students whose annual household income below INR 8,00,000 are eligible to apply for scholarships.

To decide the awardees and the amount of scholarship the Financial aid committee has a two-step process done by evaluating student’s financial situation followed by personal interaction with a faculty panel to understand the genuineness of the details provided by the student.

Aditya Birla Scholarships, OPJEMS Scholarships, Hindustan Unilever Scholarships, and IIMB PGP Alumni First Batch Scholarship are some of the scholarships awarded by IIM Banglore.

Amity University

The Amity Business School offers two types of scholarships

Complete waive off – Amity Business School offers a 100% scholarship to the candidates obtaining a minimum of 93% aggregate in Class XII of CBSE or ICSE Board and 80% marks in graduation.

 50% scholarship – A 50% Scholarship will be awarded to candidates who secure 88% marks in aggregate and above in Class XII of CBSE or ICSE and 75% marks in their graduation.

CAT vs GMAT? Which one should you take?

“Depending on your target B-school and its program admission requirements, you may need to take either the GMAT or CAT.

E.g., If your target program is the regular 2-year, the full-time residential MBA program at any IIM then you must have a valid CAT score. However, if you are considering the 1-year full-time executive program (EPGP/PGPEx) then a valid GMAT score is accepted.”

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If you can’t manage a large loan and an expensive overseas MBA, CAT is an obvious option. CAT can get you into the top B schools in India from which the top 3 are the IIMs. 

GMAT is a better option if your class 10 & 12 scores weren’t great. Appearing for the GMAT is obviously more flexible, and the scores are accepted for a longer period of time and by a wider range of institutions worldwide.

Analyze all the factors and take your decision accordingly, you will surely find your right fit. Thank you and all the best for your career.


References: 1, 2, 3, 4.

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