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CAT Vs GMAT: Which One to Choose?

Jan 08, 2021

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So, you have decided to be a part of the challenging yet lucrative world of management? Great choice! But to go further in this journey, you need to make it count. MBA is one of the most sought-after qualifications globally and so, you need to make a wise decision as to what kind of MBA qualification would you like to add to your profile. This often leads to crossroads, where aspirants do not know what to choose – GMAT or CAT. If you are weighing up these options in your mind, you are not alone. The best part is that you are at the right place. This blog is an honest attempt by KC to guide you in the right direction. 

CAT stands for Common Admission Test and is conducted by Indian Institute of Management. The exam is conducted once a year and the score is valid for 1 year. CAT scores are accepted by over 1200 B-Schools in India, including the prestigious IIMs for their full-time 2-year flagship programs.

GMAT stands for Graduate Management Admission Test and is conducted by GMAC (Graduate Management Admission Council) based in Virginia, USA. The exam is conducted 5 times a year and the scores remain valid for 5 years. GMAT scores are accepted by over 7000 MBA programs by 2500+ B-Schools around the globe. In short, it is a truly global admissions test for management programs. 

CAT vs GMAT – The Comparison (Test Sections, Structure, and Scope) 





1. Career Objective 

2. Program Choice 

3. Study Destination and Return on Investment (RoI) These issues not only shape your professional career, but they also leave a huge impact on your overall personality development through the core years of education. 


1. Career Objective: 

The aim behind opting for MBA could differ from one aspirant to the other. One of the fundamental defining factors would be whether you are a fresher, a professional with 2-4 years of experience, or a professional with more than 4 years of experience.

 a. If you are a fresher, a full-time 2-year MBA program would suit you the best. This will give you enough scope to expand the horizons of your knowledge and learn the integral concepts of the core area of your preference. 

b. If you are a professional with 2-4 year of experience, your focus would be to progress professionally or target leadership positions in the institutions where you are working. You might also be thinking about a change of job or even a change of industry at this phase. An overseas university that offers a hybrid 1+1 management program that focuses on academics in the first year and an internship in the next would be ideal for you. 

c. At this time in your career, you focus would be mostly on Executive Programs, which offer you the best blend of academics and professional projects. These would be intensive 1-year courses which are highly industry-oriented and would benefit you immediately in your career. 


2. Program Choice: 

Depending on your career objective, your choice of program is bound to change. Once you have chosen a program, you need to look for the best B-School that offers it. Consider the ranking of the university, program ratings, internships or scholarships offered, opportunities to learn under the supervision of experts, and method of education among other things. Once you find a program that meets several of these criteria, you can go ahead with either CAT or GMAT online coaching based on the eligibility requirements. 


3. Study Destination and Return on Investment (RoI): 

This is one of the major determinants behind going for GMAT or CAT. If you prefer studying in IIMs in India and if you want to enroll for a full-time 2-year MBA program in the IIMs then you have to appear for CAT. Although, there is a considerable advantage if you go for GMAT because more than 140 B-Schools in India now accept GMAT scores. This list also includes the prestigious IIMs (for the executive programs); XLRI, Jamshedpur; SPJIMR, Mumbai; IIFT, New Delhi; and IMT, Ghaziabad among others. You can access the complete list of Indian B-Schools that accept GMAT scores on – the GMAC’s website. On top of this, if World Rankings of Universities is one of your criteria behind obtaining the degree, here is a general comparison. 

So, where are the top-5 in the world? ![Picture10.jpg]( The average cost of education and living in an overseas destination could be on a higher side, but the return on that investment is significantly higher. If you compare the companies that conduct placement drives in the campuses of overseas universities to those that conduct drives in Indian universities, you will find there is a vast difference in the salaries offered to freshers or even experienced candidates. If you are a working professional with 4 or more years of experience and are looking for an Executive Program in one of the IIMs in India, the GMAT could help you too as you get multiple attempts at the test in the same year with a better chance of score enhancement. This way, you are not required to apply for a leave while there is an important project which you are supposed to be a part of, and which can enhance your professional profile. You need to factor in the RoI as you will be taking some time off work to prepare for the test and can miss out on earnings for a few months. 


Key Points to Consider:

  • CAT tests you on accuracy; GMAT tests you on ability. 
  • CAT reports only your percentile scores; GMAT reports both the total score (out of 800) and the percentile.
  •  CAT has a stricter evaluation scheme with negative marking; GMAT does not penalize students for wrong answers. 
  • CAT does not test your writing skills; GMAT has a dedicated AWA (Analytical Writing Assessment) section. As future business leaders, your ability to reason would be a key component that a B-School would take into consideration. The best part is that you get a separate score for the AWA section on GMAT – it does not affect your total score out of 800. 
  • CAT score has a very limited scope when it comes to educational scholarships. Although some IIMs help students form weaker financial background with a high CAT score, this help comes in the form of a student loan rather than a waiver. However, numerous students have benefited from various partial scholarship or full fellowship schemes based on their GMAT scores. 
  • As overseas universities are more welcoming and do not necessarily judge a candidate on the previous field of study, securing a high score in GMAT and targeting a high-ranked B-School abroad would work for you if you are considering a change of career/field of study.


We at KC genuinely feel that the GMAT can open more doors of opportunities for students who are either about to enter the field of management studies or are looking for better prospects – both professionally and financially. GMAT allows you to apply for the best Management Programs in the top-most B-Schools globally. GMAT also has a significantly higher RoI factor associated with it. It is easier to prepare for and succeed in GMAT as compared to CAT. Keeping specific needs of aspirants in mind, we cater to the preparation requirements by providing a target-oriented coaching module which has aided students to secure admits in their dream B-Schools abroad. We are committed to providing GMAT Online Coaching a platform for our students from where they can make their dreams of studying abroad come true.

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