6 Reasons Why GMAT is Better than CAT

Last updated on October 31st, 2017

Reading Time: 5minutes

“Should I take the Common Admission Test (CAT) conducted by the IIMs, or should I take the GMAT?” This question is the perennial butter-scotch/ black forest dilemma that any Indian MBA aspirant faces today.

Other major dilemmas students face are, “Which exam will I stand a better chance at?” “Which exam will give me more ‘bang for the buck’?” “Which test will give me access to MBA programs that are commensurate to my experience level?” And finally, “Which exam will open gates to the best management programs in the world?”

Let’s analyze some important points on the eternal CAT vs GMAT debate, to help you decide:


Factor #1: The Number of Aspirants


Over the last five years, both the CAT and GMAT have shown a consistent rise in the number of applicants, except for the last year. The number of aspirants for both the exams actually declined last year. However, even after considering the decline, the number of test takers for CAT is almost three times as much as the number of test takers for GMAT. Here is a brief illustration:


What does this mean for you?

Less competition and less pressure, which directly means to “more opportunities” for you!!


Factor #2: The Ability to Improve Your Score


One of the major factors as far as the CAT is concerned, is that it is like a bullet from a gun. Once shot, it cannot be recalled. Secondly, you only have one shot at the CAT, in a given academic year. You have a bad headache or a fight with your girlfriend on the day of your CAT or suffer from Delhi Belly, CAT will just say “BhaagBhaag, DK Bose”.


However, as far as GMAT is concerned, there is a lifetime cap of Eight times that you can take the test. In an academic year, you are allowed to take the GMAT five times, with an interval of 16 days between attempts. These repeat attempts do come at a price, but that critical option to improve your score exists and is used favorably by many candidates.


Target CAT/GMAT Score Number of Attempts



What does this mean for you?


This means that if you have a bad day or something crops up at work, you can shift your GMAT date to take it when you are ready. In fact, you can reschedule your GMAT dates online up to a week before the test date.


Factor #3: Section Selection


Before starting the GMAT, you can now choose the order in which you want to take up the various sections. This definitely help you, the test taker, to devise a strategy based on your strengths and weaknesses. This is a recent change to the GMAT test structure, introduced in July 2017.

Such section selection is not possible in the CAT.

We have done a detailed analysis of what this means to an Indian GMAT test-taker in this blog:


GMAT Section Selection – Everything you need to know


Factor #4: The Validity of the Score


Your CAT scores are valid only for that year. If you take the CAT in 2017, you can use the score to apply for programmes starting in 2018 and not after that. However, some institutions do give you the leeway to use your previous CAT scores when applying, but such schools are very few and far between.
On the other hand, GMAT scores are valid for five years.

What does this mean for you?


This means that you take your GMAT now and manage to get an awesome score but if you do not apply for some reason, you can use the same score to apply to any program even when:


• 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games

• 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

• 2019 Cricket World Cup – England and Wales

• 2020 Summer Olympics – Tokyo

• 2021 World Ski Championships

are over 🙂


Factor #5: The institutions covered by GMAT

CAT scores in their current form, can be used only for admissions in the IIM’s and other affiliate Indian B-Schools. Although the CAT has been conducted for many years, it is still a very Indian test for Indian MBA programs.

Taking the GMAT opens the gates to the best institutions,both abroad and in India. Harvard Business School, Wharton and Stanford amongst other schools in the USA, INSEAD in France and Singapore and London Business School are some of the prestigious institutions that consider GMAT scores for admissions to their management program.

Top Indian B-Schools such as the Indian School of Business (ISB) in Hyderabad, Great Lakes Institute of Management (GLIM) in Chennai and SP Jain in Mumbai have also started considering GMAT scores for entry to their programmes.

What does this mean for you?


Well, we are certainly asking you to “Think beyond the IIMs” :). Not in the ponytail way, but know that GMAT will open a lot more prestigious doors than CAT will.


Factor #6: The relative ease of admissions

Acing the CAT is just the first step in what is an arduous and highly competitive admission process. Group discussions, essays and personal interviews are next before you bag the coveted admit.

And worsening your already difficult task is the fact that each step has a high and arbitrary “cut off”. You will have met the daunting sectional cutoffs, 10th marks, 12th marks, Graduation marks …… phew! before you finally convert it to an admission.

Also, the competition is unbelievably high. For about 1000 seats in the top five IIMs, you are competing with 200,000 people with similar aspirations. And do not forget the ubiquitous reservations!

Simply put, only 0.5 percent of the total number of applicants makes it to the IIMs.

Most B-Schools abroad have a streamlined system for admissions, which is also very subjective. Once you take your GMAT, you would need to send your essays and recommendation letters, in which there is a lot of scope to explain “gaps” in education and experience.

Heck, the schools abroad don’t even look at your 10th or 12th standard marks! It is all about how you are as a person, and not just meeting some arbitrary “cutoffs” which in all probability you don’t even know.

The conversion ratio is almost 10 percent for B-Schools who consider GMAT.



Encapsulating the five factors we discussed, here is a comparison of CAT and GMAT, in a tabular ready-reckoner:

All I will say is, YOU DECIDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Got any questions about the CAT vs GMAT dilemma? Leave your comment in the comments section below!

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