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Is GMAT tougher than CAT?

Is GMAT tougher than CAT? Let’s find out!

GMAT is widely known around the world by 2000 business schools and 7000 MBA programs. CAT, on the other hand, is a national level entrance exam and is accepted by Indian business schools.

You have to remember that your GMAT score is valid for 5 years from the result date because the GMAC believes that your reasoning abilities will not rust over a period of 5 years. However, the CAT scores as just valid up to 1 year from the date of the test, so if you don’t score a good mark then you have to wait for the next year.

GMAT easier than CAT?

The GMAT has a very well-defined syllabus and question types, thus it is easier to prepare for GMAT than the CAT. It is possible to score 700+ on the GMAT with 90 – 120 hours of dedicated preparation.

On the other hand, the CAT syllabus is not very well-defined, and thus demands more preparation time as compared to the GMAT.

From both of the exams, some parts are difficult. The verbal section of the GMAT generally poses a greater challenge to non-native English speakers, as compared to the CAT. The Quantitative section of the CAT is relatively more difficult than the GMAT.

Confused between GMAT and CAT

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We have to remember that these two exams are important for the MBA program. CAT examination focuses more on interpreting data and quantitative analysis.

Whereas, the GMAT focuses more on analytical skills and verbal reasoning. Candidates need to understand that companies that recruit MBAs are looking for people who have good communication skills, critical thinking, and leadership.

Now, if you are having a tough choice to make between CAT and GMAT. Then I would suggest you make a choice on the basics of your circumstances. Many of the candidates who could not clear the CAT exam, even after 3-4 attempts, finally took the GMAT and got into some decent colleges abroad.

For preparation, the content of both the exams is mostly alike, however, the exam patterns are quite different. So, the basic preparation can be the same for both exams, but you need to subscribe to different test series to practice for the actual exam.

It is advised to identify your situation based on the scenarios that were mentioned earlier and choose to take only one of the two exams. You don’t need to take two exams, as it will hamper your preparations.

However, if you want to take both exams for the sake of holding a backup, you should first go for CAT because it is a fixed date exam. After CAR, immediately start preparing for the GMAT. As both of the contents of the exams are the same, so preparing for the GMAT exam will not be an issue.

Meanwhile, if you clear CAT, you will have to devote a lot of time to interview preparation. So, you can plan your GMAT preparation and date of appointment as per your interview schedule.

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Is GMAT tougher than CAT? Notes to be taken into consideration

  • As the CAT is conducted only once a year, so if you do not make the cut-off for your target college or program. Then your only option is to wait another year to take it again, whereas the GMAT can be taken multiple times with a minimum gap of 16 days between attempts.
  • Therefore, the opportunity cost is quite higher in the case of the CAT. On a different note, since you can take the GMAT multiple times, with each time better preparation and strategy you can improve your score and your profile to suit your target program better in future.
  • The GMAT Enhanced Score Report (ESR) offered at an additional cost, could provide valuable insights into your performance. Developing your retake strategy based on your ESR analysis could be of immense benefit. No such facility is available for the CAT.
  • Also, since your GMAT score is valid for five years from the date of your test, the actual cost for the GMAT comes down to $167/year.

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Difference between CAT and GMAT syllabus

GMAT syllabus also includes Quantitative, Logical and Verbal Reasoning but under sections — Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning.

GMAT has one more section which is absent in CAT and that is — Analytical Writing Assessment. There is no descriptive question in CAT.

Let’s take a look at the topics included in CAT and GMAT.

GMAT vs CAT: All You Need to Know

GMAT syllabus

Verbal Reasoning section of GMAT

  • Subject-Verb Agreement
  • Evaluate
  • Verb tense
  • Identify the Reasoning
  • Pronouns
  • Flaw
  • Parallelism/Comparison
  • Inference

Quantitative Reasoning section of GMAT

  • Number Systems & Number Theory
  • Multiples and Factors
  • Fractions
  • Decimals
  • Percentages
  • Averages
  • Powers and roots
  • Profit & Loss, Simple & Compound Interest
  • Speed, Time & Distance
  • Pipes, Cisterns & Work Time

Integrated Reasoning section of GMAT

  • Multi-Source Reasoning
  • Graphics Interpretation
  • Table Analysis
  • Two-Part Analysis

CAT syllabus

Quantitative Aptitude section of CAT

  • Geometry
  • HCF & LCM
  • Averages
  • Trigonometry
  • Algebra
  • Partnership (Accounts)
  • Mensuration
  • Profit & Loss
  • Time-Speed-Distance

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension section of CAT

  • Fill in the blanks
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Sentence completion
  • Grammar
  • Syllogisms
  • Jumbled paragraph
  • Para Completion and inference
  • Contextual usage
  • Foreign language words used in English

Logical Reasoning section of CAT

  • Blood Relations
  • Series
  • Proposition
  • Direction Sense
  • Coding-Decoding
  • Assumptions
  • Puzzles
  • Clocks and Calendars
  • Statements

Data Interpretation section of CAT

  • Tables
  • Pie Charts
  • Caselets
  • Bars
  • Line Graphs
  • Data Sufficiency

CAT vs GMAT: Exam Pattern

Let’s take a look into the exam pattern of each exam-

SectionsVerbal ReasoningQuantitative ReasoningIntegrated ReasoningAnalytical Writing AssessmentQuantitative AptitudeData Interpretation & Logical ReasoningVerbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
Number of SectionsFourThree
Total number of Questions81100
Exam Duration187 minutes180 minutes
Question TypeMCQs and a writing assessmentMCQs and key-in answers
Sectional FlexibilityCan decide the order of sections to answerHave to follow the chronology of the CAT question paper
Total Number of AttemptsCan take the exam five times a yearCan take the exam only once a year
Marking Scheme0-6 marks for Analytical Writing Assessment1-8 marks for Integrated Reasoning6-51 marks for Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning3 marks for the correct answer-1 mark for incorrect answer No deduction for an incorrect answer in non-MCQs  


In conclusion, the GMAT with its opened worldwide acceptance, lower opportunity cost, an outstanding return on investment along with its increasing acceptance to executive MBA programs at IIMs and only a few other Indian B-schools stands out.

But, if you are aiming for admission into the traditional 2-year MBA programs at the IIMs or other business schools in India such as MDI or SPJIMR, then the CAT may be your only choice.

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