Choosing Between CAT and GMAT

GMAT vs Cat Practice Test

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Choosing Between CAT and GMAT

The CAT and GMAT are both standardized tests utilized for MBA program admissions, yet they contrast in several aspects including acceptability, validity, fees, exam frequency, and format.

GMAT is recognized globally by over 7000 MBA programs across 110 countries, while CAT is exclusively accepted by Indian business schools. Moreover, a GMAT score remains valid for 5 years, whereas a CAT score holds validity for only 1 year. GMAT incurs an exam fee of $275 (approximately Rs 22,820) for test centers and $300 (approximately Rs 24,900) for the online test, while CAT involves a registration fee of Rs 2400. GMAT can be taken multiple times throughout the year, contingent upon slot availability, whereas CAT is administered once annually on a date set by the conducting IIM.

Despite their disparities, both CAT and GMAT evaluate management skills such as quantitative ability, reasoning skills, and data interpretation. Nevertheless, there are fundamental differences between these exams. Refer to the table below for a comparison of key distinctions between GMAT and CAT in 2024:

Full-FormCommon Admission TestGraduate Management Aptitude Test
Conducting bodyIndian Institute of ManagementGraduate Management Admission Council
ValidityOne YearFive Years
EligibilityBachelor’s degree with a minimum of 50% marks
At least 13 years of age

Can Be Taken How Many Times in a year?OneFive
Accepted byIndian Business School Global Business School
ModeTest CenterOnline and Test Center
Number of SectionsThreeThree
Number of Questions66 (24 in VARC, 22 in QA, 20 in DILR)64 (21 in QR, 23 in VR, 20 in DI)
Exam Duration120 minutes 135 minutes
Negative MarkingYesNo
Differences between GMAT and CAT in 2024

Format and Duration

While both the GMAT and the CAT are computer-based tests, they differ in their adaptability. The GMAT is adaptive, meaning the difficulty level of the next question is determined by your performance in the previous question. Conversely, the CAT’s questions are predetermined and do not adjust based on your performance. The CAT lasts for 2 hours, while the GMAT extends to 2 hours and 15 minutes.

The GMAT is available on-demand throughout the year at Pearson Vue testing facilities, which are present at over 125 centers across India. Conversely, the CAT is conducted by one of the 20 IIMs in a rotational manner, with test dates announced by the organizing IIM typically in July or August of each year.

GMAT scores remain valid for 5 years from the test date, as GMAC believes that reasoning skills and abilities do not substantially diminish over this timeframe. However, individual business schools may have varying policies regarding score acceptance, so it’s essential to verify with your target institution before applying. On the contrary, CAT scores are valid for only 1 year from the test date. Additionally, if you are dissatisfied with your score in a CAT attempt, you must wait a year before retaking the exam. This differs from the GMAT, which can be taken on-demand, with a maximum of 5 attempts allowed per year.

Eligibility and Attempts

Individuals aged 18 and above are eligible to take the GMAT. For candidates aged 13-18, parental permission is required to take the GMAT.

Candidates can take the GMAT up to 5 times within a year. The minimum interval between attempts must be at least 16 days, and there is a lifetime limit of 8 attempts.

On the other hand, the CAT can only be taken once per year on a date specified by the organizing IIM. The CAT exam date is typically announced by the conducting IIM in July or August annually.

There are no restrictions on the number of CAT attempts, and there is no upper age limit. However, candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree from a recognized institution or its equivalent to be eligible for the CAT. Additionally, students in their final year of undergraduate programs are permitted to appear for the CAT.

Comparison of Relative Difficulty | GMAT vs. CAT

The GMAT presents a clearer syllabus and question types, making it comparatively easier to prepare for than the CAT. Achieving an 86th percentile ranking on the GMAT typically requires 90 to 120 hours of focused preparation.

In contrast, the CAT syllabus lacks clear definition, necessitating more extensive preparation compared to the GMAT.

Indian test takers, particularly non-native English speakers, often find the verbal section of the GMAT more challenging than that of the CAT. Conversely, the quantitative section of the CAT tends to be more demanding than that of the GMAT.


Has the CAT format changed recently?
Yes, the CAT format underwent a recent change. In CAT 2021, the timing for each section was adjusted. Previously, candidates were allotted 60 minutes per section. However, for CAT 2023, the duration per section has been reduced to 40 minutes while the number of questions remains unchanged.

How many business schools accept GMAT scores?
More than 7000 MBA programs offered by over 2500 business schools worldwide accept GMAT scores for their admissions processes.

How many business schools accept CAT for MBA admissions?
Apart from the 20 IIMs, more than 1200 MBA colleges in India accept CAT scores for admission into their MBA or PGDM programs.

How many times can I take the CAT and GMAT in a year?
Candidates can take the GMAT up to 5 times in a calendar year, whereas the CAT can only be attempted once per year.

What is the validity of GMAT and CAT scores?
GMAT scores remain valid for 5 years, while CAT scores are valid for only one year.

Do IIMs accept GMAT scores?
Yes, many IIMs, along with other non-IIM Indian business schools, accept GMAT scores for their one-year Executive MBA programs.

What is a good GMAT score for IIMs?
For the executive MBA programs of the top IIMs, a score of 645+ is considered good. However, aiming for a score of 655+ is recommended to enhance one’s chances.

Is there negative marking in the GMAT and CAT exams?
There is no negative marking in the GMAT exam. However, in the CAT exam, marks are deducted for incorrect answers.

Are GMAT and CAT exams accepted globally?
The GMAT exam is recognized globally, with more than 2300 premier institutions across 110+ countries, including the U.S., UK, Europe, Singapore, and Canada. Additionally, more than 140 leading institutions in India also accept GMAT scores for their flagship programs. Conversely, CAT scores are accepted solely by business schools in India, including the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs).

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MBA House
MBA House

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Marcelo Ramos (Kellogg ‘19)
Marcelo Ramos (Kellogg ‘19)

At MBA House, we deliver effective strategies that allow our students to achieve winning results and gain admission to the school of their dreams!

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