About MBA

Comparative Analysis of CAT, GMAT AND GRE

CAT, GMAT and GRE assess the potential of candidates interested in applying to various graduate programs (Masters and Doctoral). A candidate interested in pursuing management education (or equivalent) in India takes the CAT, while a candidate interested in pursuing management education abroad or in premier Indian b-schools takes the GMAT. GRE is used by Universities/colleges for admission to their Masters in Sciences programmes.

The skills tested on the three tests are those that the candidate has developed over a period of time – especially skills developed during high school education. Hence, the skills tested on the three tests are by far the same, but the depth of understanding of concepts and the manner in which the concepts are tested varies from one test to the other.

Writing: Writing skills are not tested in the CAT. Both the GMAT and the GRE have an Analytical Writing (AW) section. The GMAT has one writing task while the GRE has two writing tasks.

Critical Reasoning: Critical Reasoning has not been a significant area in the CAT in recent years. In the GMAT, about 30% of questions in the Verbal Ability section are a test of Critical Reasoning. In the GRE, Critical Reasoning is tested (though not titled as such) and toned-down when compared to the GMAT Critical Reasoning.

Sentence Correction: Sentence Correction questions that come in the GMAT are of a different flavor when compared to those in the CAT. In the GMAT, the emphasis is not only on the functional aspects of grammar, but also on contextual meaning, effective writing and usage. There are specific error types that are looked at in the GMAT. The GRE does not have Sentence Correction question types.

Reading Comprehension: Reading Comprehension passages and question types in the CAT and the GMAT are quite similar. The GRE Reading Comprehension question types are different. The candidate may be asked to select on-screen a text in the passage that answers a particular question.

Vocabulary: Out-of-context vocabulary testing has more or less been eliminated in the CAT. Vocabulary is tested in context in 'Fill in the Blanks' question types or in identifying a synonym of a word in a Reading Comprehension passage. The GMAT does not test vocabulary. The GRE though vocabulary-intensive, does not test out-of-context vocabulary. Certain GRE question types require candidates to select words that fit into a respective blank in a text and other question types require candidates to select multiple answer choices for a blank.

Other Verbal Ability: Paragraph questions (formation, completion, summary or odd-man-out), appropriate usage of a word are other Verbal ability questions that are tested only in the CAT.

The quantitative ability in CAT is relatively more difficult when compared to GMAT or GRE. Both CAT and GMAT require the candidate to select only one answer for a question, GRE requires the candidate to select multiple answers or type-in an answer in certain question types.

While all the three tests have questions on Data Interpretation, GMAT has a section called Integrated Reasoning. Both the CAT and the GRE test the candidate's ability to interpret data quantitatively, GMAT in its Integrated Reasoning section also tests the candidate's ability to interpret data qualitatively. The GMAT also has four different question types in the Integrated Reasoning section.

CAT is a linear Computer Based Test. GMAT is an adaptive test - in an adaptive test like the GMAT, the candidate must answer every question that comes on the screen to get to the next question, whose level of difficulty depends on whether the candidate marked the previous question correctly. Unlike in the CAT, in the GMAT, the candidate will not be allowed to skip a question or to go back to an already submitted question. This makes time management in GMAT quite tricky. GRE is a section adaptive test - the level of difficulty of one section depends on the overall performance of the candidate in the corresponding previous section.

The table below charts the differences among the three tests.

What is it? Common Admission Test Graduate Management Admission Test Graduate Record Examinations
Who conducts it? The Indian Institutes of Management Graduate Management Admission Council Educational Testing Service
When is it held? Last sunday in November of every year Round the year (6 days of the week except on Sundays and national holidays) Round the year (6 days of the week except on Sundays and national holidays)
How do I register for the test? Register online at www.iimcat.ac.in Register online at www.mba.com Register online at www.ets.org/gre
What is the cost of the exam? Rs. 2400 for General Category; Rs 1200 for SC/ST/DA(PWD) category 250 205
How many sections does the test have? Three (in the order below)
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning Quantitative Ability
Four (in the order below)
Analytical Writing
Integrated Reasoning
Quantitative Ability
Verbal Ability
Five (after Section 1, not necessarily in the order below)
Analytical Writing
Quantitative Reasoning (2 sections)
Verbal Reasoning (2 sections)
PLUS 1 Unscored section and/or
Research section (Quantitative or Verbal)
How many questions? CAT has the following pattern
Section 1: 24
Section 2: 20
Section 3:22
Section 1: One task – Analysis of an Argument
Section 2: 12
Section 3: 37
Section 4: 41
Section 1: Two tasks – Analysis of an Issue; Analysis of an Argument
Quantitative 1: 20
Quantitative 2: 20
Verbal 1: 20
Verbal 2: 20
What is the pattern of the test? Computer Based Test Computer Adaptive Test (Question-Adaptive for Quantitative and Verbal sections) Computer Based Test (Section-Adaptive)
What is the duration of the test? 2 hours 3 hours 30 minutes 3 hours 45 minutes
Are the sections timed separately? Yes, 40 minutes per section Yes
30 minutes each for section (1) and section (2);
75 minutes each for section (3) and (4)
30 minutes for each task of section (1);
30 minutes for each section of Verbal Reasoning;
35 minutes for each section of Quantitative Reasoning
Can I navigate within a section? Yes No Yes
Can I navigate between two sections? No No No
What is the maximum score/score range? Maximum score: 198 Score range: 200 to 800 for the Quant and Verbal sections;
Score range: 1 to 6 for the Analytical Writing section;
Score range: 1 to 8 for the Integrated Reasoning
Score range: 260 to 340 for the Quantitative and Verbal sections;
Score range: 1 to 6 for the Analytical Writing section
What is the marking scheme For MCQs
3 points awarded for every correct answer
1 point deducted for every wrong answer
For Non MCQs 3 points awarded for every correct answer
No negative marks for Non MCQs
Adaptive logic implies tougher questions carry more points and easier questions carry fewer points All questions within a section, irrespective of the level of difficulty, carry equal points