GMAT vs CAT For Applying to These 40 Leading Indian B-Schools

GMAT and CAT are both standardized tests used for admission to business schools. GMAT is primarily used for admission to graduate management programs, while CAT is used for admission to Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and other Indian business schools.

GMAT is a computer-adaptive test that adjusts the difficulty level of questions based on the test taker’s performance, while CAT is also a computer-based test but uses a fixed question format. Both tests assess skills in quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and analytical writing. However, the GMAT tends to focus more on critical thinking and reasoning skills, while CAT emphasizes problem-solving and data interpretation skills.


GMAT vs CAT for Applying to Leading Indian B-Schools

“Should I do an MBA from India or abroad? If I choose India, then should I go for the CAT or the GMAT? Which test will provide me with a better opportunity? Which test will help me get access to the best MBA programs?”… The list of such questions that come up in the minds of most Indian MBA aspirants is endless. Most of them have to go through this unpleasant quandary.

Let’s analyze in brief the two moot questions one by one — (1) “MBA in India or abroad?” and (2) “CAT or GMAT?”


MBA from India or Abroad

The cost involved in pursuing MBA abroad is usually higher than that involved in pursuing MBA in India. The estimated overall expense for doing an MBA abroad is about Rs. 35 lakh to 50 lakh whereas it is about Rs. 15 lakh to 40 lakh if you do it from a leading B-school in India. This includes tuition fees too. We must keep in mind that the average salary on offer abroad may, however, be higher than that on offer in India. Also, reckon that there are several financing options available for meeting your overseas study expenses. Still, one may have one’s own other compelling reasons to study in India. In the end, it’s a personal choice.


GMAT or CAT for Applying to Indian B-School

The GMAT has a few advantages over the CAT. Here is a quick comparison:

Is Administered only once a year Offered on demand year-round. You can take it 5 times in a rolling year with an interval of 16 days between two tests. The maximum number of attempts in a lifetime is eight.
No rescheduling of the test You can reschedule the test.
Unable to select the section order You can select the section order and can devise a strategy based on your strengths.
High-level Quant skills are required You do not need to be a Math wizard to score well on the Quant section.
Score valid for only 1 year Score valid for 5 years
You can only apply to IIMs and other Indian B-schools. Accepted by more than 7,000 programs at approximately 2,300 graduate business schools worldwide. This includes some leading Indian B-schools too.
The number of applicants is three times more than the applications applied for GMAT. This implies intense competition Comparatively, a fewer number of applicants and thus lesser competition and a higher chance of success.
The admission process is heavily based on your scores. Schools do not know anything about you until you appear for the interview. The admission process revolves around your overall development and Schools know about you through your essays even before the interview.


40 Leading Indian B-Schools that Accept the GMAT

According to a recent report from the GMAC, more than 100 schools across India accept GMAT scores. Out of these, here are the 40 leading Indian b-schools where you can apply for their full-time flagship programs using your GMAT Scores:

  • Indian School of Business
  • IBS (ICFAI Business School)
  • SP Jain Institute of Management & Research
  • PSG Institute of Management Coimbatore
  • Great Lakes Institute of Management
  • ITM Business School
  • IMT Ghaziabad
  • Universal Business School
  • International Management Institute (IMI)
  • ISBR Business School
  • BITS Pilani
  • Alliance University
  • J. Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research
  • Schulich School of Business
  • A. Pai Management Institute
  • Woxsen School of Business
  • XIM Bhubaneshwar
  • MYRA School of Business
  • IFIM Business School
  • VIT University
  • Goa Institute of Management
  • SRM University
  • FORE School of Management
  • Thapar University
  • Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management
  • Athena School of Business
  • GITAM Hyderabad
  • Amity University
  • Munjal University
  • SDA Bocconi Asia Center
  • Indian School of Business and Finance
  • Welingkar Institute of Management
  • National Institute of Securities Markets
  • Bennett University
  • BSE Institute Ltd
  • Shiv Nadar University
  • National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM)
  • Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA)
  • Apeejay School of Management

Several IIMs such as the Indian Institute of Management, Ranchi, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Lucknow, Indore, Kozhikode, Nagpur, Raipur, Rohtak, Shillong, Tiruchirappalli, Udaipur, and Visakhapatnam also accept GMAT scores.


Some of the Prominent Points that You Need to Know

  • You need to register on mba.com in order to find the program which suits your profile and preferences.
  • You will also be able to find the match rate along with the list of schools.
  • You will be able to see better results if you complete your profile with your background and aspirations.
  • You can avail of the “School Search” service on mba.com and get a better match by providing details such as Years of Experience, Your location, your Target / Actual Score, and your preferences such as Where you want to go, Area of Study, Preferred Class Style, Desired Program Type, Years available to complete a degree, and your Desired Degree (MBA/Master’s/Ph.D. / Doctoral, etc.).

GMAT is a test recognized by AICTE for all PGDM and PGCM courses conducted by the respective State Governments for all institutions other than minority institutions across India.


How Will Your GMAT Preparation Help in the CAT?

The GMAT and the CAT are two different tests, yet similar in some ways. The GMAT is an international entrance exam and is widely used all over the world to get admissions into top-notch B-schools. However, the CAT is an Indian entrance exam and is widely used to get admissions into Indian B-schools such as IIMs.

The Verbal section of the GMAT is comparatively harder than the Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC) section of the CAT. On the other hand, cracking the Quantitative section of the CAT is a mammoth task as compared to cracking the Quantitative section of the GMAT. Besides many other differences, the major difference is in the number of times you may take the GMAT and the CAT.

The GMAT can be retaken after a short wait of 16 days and the score remains valid for 5 years while the CAT is conducted once a year and the score is valid only for 1 year. Another reason why candidates prefer taking the GMAT over the CAT. So, if you are confused between the two and have an inclination towards studying abroad (and finance is not the concern) but want to try your hand at CAT too, you better start preparing with the GMAT first as it can be taken after 2-3 months of preparation and it will prepare your base for the CAT which needs a year of preparation.

Due to several advantages offered by the GMAT, candidates prefer preparing for the GMAT than the CAT. However, some candidates choose to prepare for both or switch to the CAT preparation after preparing for the GMAT. In both situations, it is vital to understand that preparing for the GMAT will only help the student to prepare for the CAT exam. Let’s see how the preparation for each section of the GMAT is going to help in the CAT preparation.


Quantitative Reasoning

The difficulty level of the quant questions in the Quantitative Reasoning section of the CAT is much higher than the difficulty level of the quant questions on the GMAT. The topics tested are more or less the same as in the CAT. Note that the CAT lays a lot of emphasis on Trigonometry and arcane rules such as Euler’s formula and Fermat’s theorem which is not the case in the GMAT. The GMAT tests students on regular topics but the techniques learned for solving the GMAT questions can be widely used on the CAT.

  • Problem Solving – These questions on the CAT are of a much higher level than the GMAT. The GMAT preparation for the Quant section will lay a strong foundation for the preparation of the Quant section of the CAT, especially if you are a non-math student or have never prepared for the CAT exam before.


The GMAT Verbal is slightly tougher than the CAT Verbal. So, preparation for the GMAT Verbal will come in very handy in the preparation of the VARC section of the CAT. There are some differences that you will need to cover but with a little more practice you will be able to address them with the existing set of skills. The GMAT has 2 sections, namely, Critical Reasoning (CR), and Reading Comprehension (RC). Let’s see how much each of them will help in the CAT preparation.

  1. Critical Reasoning (CR) – CR questions have seen the light of day only a couple of times in the history of the CAT exams. But, it does not mean that they cannot come ever again on the CAT. So, its preparation may not prove totally useless.
  2. Reading Comprehension (RC) – The CAT has a Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC) section which includes RC. Thus, preparing for the GMAT will directly help in preparing for the CAT.


Data Insights (DI)

Data Insights questions on the GMAT are comparatively much easier than the Data Interpretation questions seen on the CAT. Also, the option of rearranging the table as per the column makes the GMAT DI questions much easier. This tool is not available on the CAT which makes it further difficult. DI Section of GMAT contains DS questions:

  • Data Sufficiency – The DS questions are altogether a different can of worms and this question type on the GMAT is of a much higher level as compared to what one will witness on the CAT. Having said that, it is important to note that not many DS questions come on the CAT but, whatsoever, will appear easy if you have practiced them during the GMAT prep.



The GMAT is a computer adaptive test whereas the CAT is not. It means that on the GMAT you cannot go back to the previous question and change the answer to the question. Nevertheless, this is not the case in CAT. You may go back and change the answer to the questions. Also, on the GMAT, the difficulty level of the questions will increase considerably if the student is able to answer a sufficient number of questions correctly at the beginning of the test.

Thus, preparation for the GMAT Quant requires a lot of concentration and skills such as pacing besides having a stronghold on the basics. The CAT, on the other hand, requires a huge amount of practice as the test requires advanced mathematical skills. Also, the DILR section of the CAT is not covered in the GMAT. So, you will have to prepare separately for it. Having said that it is important to note that even though CAT is the hardest of all the competitive exams; it is, also, built upon basic concepts just like the GMAT and, hence, the preparation for the GMAT can prove to be a substructure for the CAT and you just have to walk a little extra mile to achieve your target.

So, take as many practice tests as possible before you sit for the CAT and apply the strategies learned for the GMAT while taking the tests.


GMAT vs CAT Exams: Tips and Opportunities

For students planning to do an MBA from a reputed institute, a common dilemma they face is whether to go for the Common Admission Test (CAT) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). While both of these exams serve as a crucial stepping-stone for gaining admission to a top B-school, there is a major difference between the two, which must be taken into account before choosing which of the exams to take. Given below are several key points that separate the two entrance exams.


Exam Structure and Format

Both GMAT and CAT are designed to test your reasoning skills, data interpretation, and quantitative ability.  Hence, while the CAT lasts for 3 hours, the GMAT exam lasts for 2 hours and 15 minutes. Both of them are computer-based exams, however, the major difference between the two is that the GMAT is an adaptive test, while the CAT is not. This basically means that in GMAT, the difficulty of the next question is decided by how you answer the current question. If you answer correctly, you are awarded a more difficult question and if your answer is incorrect, the next question that pops up is relatively easier.

Also, while the CAT exam is conducted yearly and its dates are announced in July-August every year, GMAT exams are delivered on-demand through the year. Another key difference between the two is that the GMAT score is valid for up to 5 years after taking the test while CAT scores are valid for a year.


Eligibility Criteria

Though students are required to be over 18 years of age to take the GMAT test, students below 18 can appear for the test with their parents’ permission. To appear for CAT you need to be either a graduate or need to be in the final year of your graduation. While CAT can be taken only once in a year and there is no upper age limit for the test, GMAT can be taken for a maximum of 5 times in a year, with a minimum of 16 days’ gap between the tests.

However, unlike CAT (which you can take innumerable times), you can take the GMAT for a maximum of 8 times in your life. The cost for taking CAT is Rs. 1900 while GMAT costs about Rs. 17500. However, GMAT has an international appeal as scores are accepted in over 7000 programs in 110 countries worldwide, whereas CAT is only accepted in IIMs and a number of other colleges primarily in India.


Preparation and Evaluation

As compared to CAT, GMAT has a very standardized syllabus and types of questions, which makes its preparation much easier. With GMAT, studying and practicing for over 120 hours can fetch you a score of over 700. While the quantitative section of CAT is much more difficult as compared to GMAT, the verbal section of GMAT is far more difficult as compared to CAT, especially because of the AWA.

GMAT is more of a test for your ability as the test continuously adapts itself to know your skills. Also, there is no option to revisit the questions later or skip any of them. CAT, on the other hand, is a non-adaptive test and checks how accurate you are with the answers. You are allowed the option to review your answers before submitting and provided with an online calculator in CAT, but there is also a provision for negative markings for incorrect answers.


How to Choose Between GMAT and CAT?

Apart from the above differences, there are several factors that govern whether a student would go for CAT or GMAT. Firstly, if you want to pursue an MBA for global exposure, it is wise to choose GMAT as many colleges in India and abroad accept GMAT scores. If you plan to work and live in India, CAT is a much better option for you. Secondly, the program and specialization that you have would also affect your choice among the two competitive exams.

There are many MBA courses of various durations and combinations available abroad as compared to India, and the pay is also considerably better as compared to students getting offers from IIMs, however, the cost of studying overseas is also considerably high. Lastly, there may be certain courses that are best studied in a particular country thus providing more exposure to an industry. Hence you must make the right choice keeping in mind the above factors and choose a test that will take you places.


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Which exam is more difficult GMAT or CAT?

Both exams are challenging and require preparation and practice. However, the GMAT may be considered more difficult due to its emphasis on analytical and critical reasoning skills.

What is the scoring system of GMAT and CAT?

GMAT and CAT use a scaled scoring system to report the test-takers overall performance. GMAT scores range from 200 to 800, with a score of 600 considered average. CAT scores range from 0 to 300, with a score of 150 considered moderate.

What is the difference between GMAT and CAT?

The primary distinction between the GMAT and the CAT is that the GMAT is a global exam accepted by over 2000 business schools and 7000 MBA programs around the world, whereas the CAT is a national-level entrance exam accepted by Indian business schools.


Which exam is more widely accepted, GMAT & CAT?

GMAT is widely accepted by International institutions while CAT is widely accepted by Indian institutions. However, some Indian institutions also accept GMAT scores.

What is the structure of the GMAT and CAT exam?

The GMAT exam consists of four sections: Analytical writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, and Verbal. The CAT exam consists of three sections: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning, and Quantitative Ability.

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