CAT or GMAT – which one should you write?

Common Admission Test (CAT) and Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) are examinations conducted for admissions to management courses in India and abroad. While CAT scores are compulsory for admissions to any of the IIMs, other well-reputed management institutes also accept these scores. Some of the Indian MBA colleges also consider GMAT (and MAT) scores for admission.

Overseas management institutes, on the other hand, only accept GMAT scores. CAT scores are not valid in many of the best international management colleges. Moreover, students are plagued by doubts about which of the two are easier. It now seems certain that decision on which exam to take not depends as much on the toughness of the test but on what is most appropriate for the aspirant.

GMAT can be attempted five times in one year with at least a 16-day gap between each attempt. It costs about $250 for each attempt. Top B-schools will be able to track records of each attempt and choose to pick up the best. It is normally recommended to restrict scored attempts to not more than 3. International B-schools require a minimum of 3 years of work experience and to be a strong contender, it is better to garner 5 years of Work Ex. CAT can be attempted only once a year. However, prior work experience is not a must.

Differences in Exam Pattern:

  • Writing skills are not tested in CAT whereas in GMAT, there is an Analytical Writing Ability (AWA) section which needs to be cleared.
  • Critical Reasoning is not a very significant part of the CAT whereas in the GMAT, 30% of the Verbal Ability section is to test Critical reasoning capabilities.
  • Sentence Correction is handled differently in the two exams. While CAT mostly focuses on functional aspect of grammar rules, GMAT also checks for contextual meaning and usage.
  • The quantitative section in GMAT deals with problem solving and data insufficiency. While CAT students will find the problem solving section quite easy, the questions of data insufficiency could prove tricky.

GMAT test is an adaptive format whereas CAT is a linear format. This means, that in GMAT, the question on the screen requires to be answered to move forward while CAT allows aspirants to move back and forth and even change an already submitted answer. cat-vs-gmat-banner

MBA in India or Ovreseas

Indian Bschools tend to focus a lot on academic achievements and exams scores while foreign bschools focus more on work experience and co-curricular activities.

Hence MBA aspirants (just out of college) who wish to pursue an MBA degree immediately should start preparing right away so that they could be ready to take the next CAT call. People keen on getting admission in top international B-schools should be focusing on picking up crucial work experience while also preparing to take on the GMAT. Most overseas B-schools require a 3-5 year work ex.

Score Validity

Scores of CAT are valid only for the year of the exam. If you wish to reapply to any of the IIMs, your earlier scores are not acceptable. The CAT has to be retaken and new scores obtained. GMAT scores are valid for five years from the date of completion of the exam and combined with the 5 attempts per year, you could apply at prudent intervals so as to get the best scores while you are garnering your work experience too and you could be ready with a deadly combination by the time the 3-5 years of working is complete.

The differences mentioned above will help students to arrive at the appropriate methodology to prepare for the two exams. What works with one need not work with the other.

Doing an MBA overseas is a great way to gain excellent exposure. The cost would, of course, be much higher as compared to the IIMs of our country. It is, therefore, imperative to know and be aware of your potential, capabilities and resources and then plan accordingly whether to write the CAT and/or GMAT.