MBA Entrance Exams: CAT vs. Other Exams

MBA Entrance Exams CAT vs Other Exams

CAT. GMAT. GRE? NMAT?! As you consider your MBA entrance exam, you may feel like you’re drowning in alphabet soup. What are all these exam abbreviations?

Don’t worry! I’m here to help you get all these tests sorted out. Today, we’re going to look at the CAT vs. other exams.


In India, CAT and GMAT are the big tests for b-school. And GMAT is also pretty big worldwide. In terms of content, these two tests are similar in a lot of ways. They both have a Quant section, a Verbal section, and a third section that deals with data and logic.

There are differences too, of course. For one thing, GMAT Quant doesn’t allow calculator use, while the CAT does. Beyond this, CAT Verbal focuses a lot more on RC. And while CAT DILR and GMAT IR do both deal with data interpretation and logic, they deal with these skills in very different ways. You can read a full comparison of these two exams in my CAT vs. GMAT blog post.


“GRE is an MBA entrance exam?” My students sometimes ask me this in surprise.

Believe it or not, yes — the GRE can be used to get into some b-schools. And in fact, more and more MBA programs are accepting the GRE as an alternative to the CAT or GMAT.

Like both CAT and GMAT, the GRE has a Quant and Verbal section. GRE Quant is very similar to CAT Quant. You’ll deal with similar types of math problems. Also, both exams have an on-screen calculator you can use. But be careful! CAT and GRE math problems are usually easier to solve with mental math and scrap paper. On these two tests, the calculator is often a trap; calculator use can actually slow you down or cause you to make mistakes.


For Indian nationals who are applying to grad b-schools in the U.S., the TOEIC is an interesting case. This business English exam is made by the same company that makes the TOEFL. It’s really designed more as a workplace English test. Many multinational companies use the TOEIC to see if workers have the level of English they need for their jobs.

However, the TOEIC is also accepted by a surprising number of small, mid-ranked MBA programs in the United States. If you are considering going to one of these smaller American schools for your business degree, check to see if the TOEIC is an option.

The biggest advantage of the TOEIC is that it’s relatively easy. The questions are designed to test workplace English skills, not academic skills. As a result, TOEIC exercises are much simpler than anything you’d see on the CAT or on other English-language grad school exams.

The downside of taking the TOEIC is that it really does only get you into a very limited number of graduate business programs. A higher-level exam like the CAT, GMAT, or GRE will open a lot more doors for you.

CAT vs. Other Indian MBA Entrance Exams

The CAT is primarily used for admission into India’s largest network of public b-schools: the Indian Institutes of Management. India has a number of other MBA entrance exams that are specific to other university systems or other individual programs. Depending on where you’re applying, you may want to consider the NMAT, the XAT, the SNAP exam, and possibly others. If you’re applying somewhere other than he IIM, always check with your target school to see which exam is your best option.

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