GMAT vs CAT – All the Differences You Need to Know!

GMAT vs CAT – All the Differences You Need to Know!

The Graduate Management Admission Test is one of the most competitive exams held worldwide for admission into management courses like MBA. GMAT scores are accepted worldwide.

CAT, the common admission test conducted by the Indian Institute of Management, is a competitive exam for admission into MBA from top universities in India only.

  • How to score the best GMAT score

However, GMAT, conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), is also accepted by top MBA colleges in India like XLRI Jamshedpur, MDI Gurgaon, and Indian School of Business Hyderabad/Mohali.

Therefore, deciding between taking the GMAT and CAT is a dilemma faced by a countless number of Indian MBA aspirants as both serve as a stepping stone to gaining admission into an MBA program.

Hence, in this blog, we have covered all the differences between these two exams and help you make an informed decision on which test to take.

GMAT Exam Pattern – All The Details You Need to Know!

Critical differences between GMAT and CAT

Both the GMAT and the CAT serve as standardised test for admission to MBA programs. However, both differ in the scope of their acceptability. GMAT is a global exam accepted by more than 7000 MBA programs worldwide, whereas CAT is accepted only by Indian business schools.

Here are some notable differences between the two:

Full-FormCommon Admission TestGraduate Management Admission Test
Conducting bodyIndian Institute of ManagementGraduate Management Admission Council
ValidityOne yearFive years
EligibilityBachelor’s degree with a minimum of 50% marksAt least 13 years of age
FrequencyOnce a yearRound the year
Accepted byIndian business schoolsGlobal business schools
Mode of ExamOnlineOnline
Number of sections34
Number of questions10080
Exam Duration120 minutes187 minutes
Exam Fee₹2,000USD 250

Format and Duration

The CAT consists of 3 sections, whereas the GMAT has four sections, including an analytical writing assessment. Though both the GMAT and the CAT are computer-based tests, the GMAT is adaptive, whereas the CAT is not. This means that the next question’s difficulty level is based on your previous question’s performance.

The CAT lasts for 2 hours while the GMAT lasts for 3 hours and 7 minutes.

The GMAT is delivered on-demand around the year via Pearson Vue testing facilities at 39 centres in 34 cities across India.

The CAT is conducted by one of the six oldest IIMs rotationally. The convening IIM announces the test dates in either July or August of every year.

Score Validity

Your GMAT score is valid for five years from the date of your test. This is because GMAC (the organisation that conducts the GMAT) believes your reasoning skills and abilities would not erode substantially over five years.

On the other hand, CAT scores are valid for just one year from the test’s date. Also, if you cannot score well in an attempt, you would have to wait for a year to retake it.

Eligibility and Attempts

Anyone over 18 years of age can take the GMAT. If you are below the age of 18, i.e. 13-18 years of age, then, with parental permission, you can take the GMAT.

You can take the GMAT up to 5 times. The convening IIM announces the date on which the CAT will be conducted. The minimum duration between any attempt should be at least 16 days. There is an 8-attempt overall lifetime limit.

The CAT can be taken only once every year on a date specified by the convening IIM. The convening IIM announces the date on which the CAT will be conducted in July or August.

There is no restriction on the number of attempts to take the CAT and no upper age limit.

Minimum CAT Score Needed to Do MBA in India

Adaptive vs non-adaptive

The GMAT is an adaptive test. This means that the difficulty level of your next question depends on your performance in the previous question.

Thus, the GMAT is a test of ability as it constantly adapts and refines the test to your ability level. The test starts with a question of medium difficulty. If you answer this question correctly, the next question is of a slightly higher difficulty level. Hence, there is no option to review your answers or skip a question.

CAT, on the other hand, is a non-adaptive test and focuses on accuracy rather than ability. Since the CAT only percentile scores are reported, your score depends solely on how many questions you answered correctly. You can review your answers in a section before submission. Also, an on-screen calculator is provided. There is negative marking for wrong answers.

Takeaways – How to choose between GMAT vs CAT?

The following criteria should help you in deciding GMAT or CAT:

  • Decide on your career goals (International Exposure and Work Opportunities vs Domestic)
  • Choice of Program (Executive, Full-time 1-year, Full Time 2 years)
  • Location Preference (India vs Abroad)
  • Investment vs Return (GMAT vs CAT)
  • Scholarship Opportunities (GMAT vs CAT)

In conclusion, the GMAT, with its wider worldwide acceptance, lower opportunity cost, and greater return on investment along with its increasing acceptance to executive MBA programs at IIMs and a few other Indian B-schools, stands out as the better option between GMAT vs CAT. However, if you aim for admission into the traditional 2-year MBA program at IIMs or other business schools in India, such as MDI or SPJIMR, the CAT may be your only choice.

This was our complete guide on all the differences you should know when choosing GMAT or CAT.

CGPA to Percentage Conversion Certificate


Here are some frequently asked questions about the same topic to help you make an informed decision.

Q1. Do IIMs take GMAT scores?

Ans. IIMs accept GMAT scores for MBA admissions into their 1-year full-time MBA programs. However, for their 2-year PGP programs, Indian students are required to submit CAT scores.

Q2. Is GMAT preparation enough for CAT?

Ans. 70% less time is taken to prepare for GMAT – Time required to prepare for the GMAT is significantly lower than CAT. A typical student spends 10-12 months preparing for the CAT. However, you can score a 700+ score on the GMAT with 2-3 months of preparation.

  • How to score the best GMAT score

Q3. Can I take the GMAT from home?

Ans. Yes. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GMAC has introduced the facility of taking the test from home. These exams are remotely proctored so that students complete the test on time and do not resort to any sort of malpractice.

We truly hope we were able to resolve any queries you might have had. For any further questions, feel free to get in touch with our counsellors at ForeignAdmits.

Good luck!