In India, there are two prestigious exams whose scores are accepted by all the top business schools. These are the Common Aptitude Test (CAT) and Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT).

There are many differences between the two, so it’s common for students to wonder which to appear for and the scope of each exam. Here are the most prominent differentiators between these two exams. 

Format: Between the two, preparing for the CAT exam calls for basic proficiency in Verbal Ability, Quantitative Aptitude, Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation. 

For GMAT, you will be assessed on Analytical Writing, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative and Verbal Ability. 

Here, the test adjusts itself from medium difficulty level and goes higher with a correct answer choice for each question. Your abilities are then measured on the basis of the number of questions you have answered, the level of accuracy and difficulty. Your performance is then measured against the number of questions you answer, their level of difficulty and accuracy. 

Eligibility: Students with a minimum of 55% at the undergraduate level from a recognized university can appear for the CAT exam. Final year students, who are yet to receive their results, can also apply. 

A qualified bachelor degree from a recognized institute is the requirement for GMAT. However, there is no minimum marks requirement for one to appear for the GMAT exam. Here too, students awaiting their final year results are eligible to apply.  

The candidate can appear for the CAT exam once a year where s/he will be tested for all sections. In the GMAT exam, candidates can reappear 16 days after the previous exam but he cannot take more than five attempts in a calendar year. 

Style: The CAT paper is so devised that within a span of three hours, the candidate attempts 34 questions in Verbal Ability; 32 questions in Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning and 34 questions in Quantitative Aptitude. 

Candidates appearing for the GMAT exam will have 30 minutes for one essay in Analytical Writing, 12 questions from Integrated Reasoning to be done in 30 minutes; 31 questions in Quantitative to be completed in 62 minutes and 36 multiple choice questions to be completed in the Verbal Section to be completed in 65 minutes.

The GMAT paper is set in the adaptive computer format. Here, one question appears on the screen at a time. If you answer it correctly, you will be given a tougher question. However, if you cannot solve it, an easier question will be given. The good thing about this paper is that there’s no negative marking. And you can’t go back to change your answer during the test. You can pick any section to answer according to your knowledge and efficiency. 

For students of the CAT exam, if you prefer not to answer some questions, you’re welcome not to. For correct answers, you will be given three marks and if wrong, one mark will be subtracted. CAT questions are randomly sourced from a question bank. So, if you aren’t sure of the answer, skip it to avoid negative marking. 

Exam results: It takes a month or so to get your CAT results, but the moment you finish your GMAT exam, you get the scores straight away. 

Opportunities: The IMMs in India conduct the CAT exam each year, enabling admission in 1500 business schools in India. On the other hand, GMAT scores are valid in over 2100 educational institutions all over the world. 


Apart from these differences, there’s also a vast difference between the exam fees of both CAT and GMAT. Whereas the CAT costs only 1900, the GMAT costs $250 or 16,000. However, the steep price of GMAT exams can be justified in that it is a gateway to getting admission in foreign universities. So, much depends on what you want to do. Take your pick from these exams accordingly.

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