CAT or CMAT: Which One Should You Go For?

Choosing the right entrance exam for a business school can be a crucial decision for your career. Among the many options available in India, the CAT and the CMAT are two prominent exams that aspirants often consider. Both exams have their unique features, and advantages, and are gateways to prestigious management institutes. Endeavor brings you a detailed comparison between CAT and CMAT to help you decide which one suits your career goals better.

Overview of CAT and CMAT

Common Admission Test (CAT)

CAT is one of the most sought-after management entrance exams in India, conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) on a rotational basis. It is a gateway to the IIMs and several other top B-schools in the country.

  • CAT Full Form: Common Admission Test
  • Frequency: Once a year
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Sections: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), Quantitative Ability (QA)
  • Number of Questions: 66
  • Exam Mode: Computer-based test (CBT)
  • Scoring Pattern: +3 for each correct answer, -1 for each wrong answer
  • Eligibility: Bachelor’s degree with at least 50% marks (45% for SC/ST/PwD)

Common Management Admission Test (CMAT)

CMAT is another significant entrance exam, conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA). It is widely accepted by many AICTE-approved institutions and universities.

  • CMAT Full Form: Common Management Admission Test
  • Frequency: Once a year
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Sections: Logical Reasoning, Quantitative Technique, Language Comprehension, General Awareness, and Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Number of Questions: 100
  • Exam Mode: Computer-based test (CBT)
  • Scoring Pattern: +4 for each correct answer, -1 for each wrong answer
  • Eligibility: Bachelor’s degree in any discipline

Detailed Comparison

Exam Structure and Content


  • VARC: This section tests your proficiency in English, focusing on reading comprehension, grammar, and verbal ability.
  • DILR: This section assesses your logical reasoning and data interpretation skills.
  • QA: This section evaluates your mathematical skills, primarily at the high school level.


  • Quantitative Techniques: Similar to CAT’s QA section but generally considered easier.
  • Logical Reasoning: Tests logical thinking and problem-solving abilities.
  • Language Comprehension: Assesses English language skills, including reading comprehension, grammar, and vocabulary.
  • General Awareness: Covers current affairs, business, economics, and general knowledge.
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Focuses on entrepreneurial skills, innovative thinking, and understanding of business startups and management.

Difficulty Level

CAT: Known for its high difficulty level, especially in the QA and DILR sections. The competition is intense due to the exam’s popularity and the prestige of the IIMs.

CMAT: Generally considered easier than CAT. The questions are more straightforward, and the inclusion of a General Awareness section can be a scoring opportunity for well-prepared candidates.

Acceptance and Scope

CAT: Accepted by the IIMs and over 1,000 B-schools across India, including prestigious institutes like FMS Delhi, SPJIMR Mumbai, and MDI Gurgaon. A high CAT score can open doors to the most reputed management programs in the country.

CMAT: Accepted by over 1,000 AICTE-approved institutes. While not as prestigious as CAT, CMAT still offers a pathway to several well-regarded B-schools like JBIMS Mumbai, SIMSREE Mumbai, and KJ Somaiya Institute of Management.

Preparation Strategy


  • Time Management: With its shorter duration and complex questions, time management is crucial. Practice with mock tests and previous years’ papers.
  • Focus on Weak Areas: Identify and strengthen your weak areas, especially in DILR and QA.
  • Reading Habits: Regular reading can improve your VARC performance.


  • General Awareness: Stay updated with current affairs and general knowledge. Reading newspapers and magazines can be beneficial.
  • Practice Logical Reasoning: Regular practice can help you score well in this section.
  • Quantitative Techniques: Although easier than CAT, thorough preparation is still necessary.

Career Impact

CAT: Securing admission to an IIM or other top B-schools through CAT can significantly boost your career prospects. The IIMs are renowned for their rigorous curriculum, exceptional faculty, and strong industry connections. Graduates often secure high-paying jobs with leading companies globally.

CMAT Colleges: While not as prestigious as CAT, CMAT can still lead to excellent career opportunities. Many CMAT-accepting institutes have good placement records and industry connections. Graduates from these institutes often find well-paying jobs in various sectors.

Decision Factors

When deciding between CAT and CMAT, consider the following factors:

  1. Career Goals: If your goal is to secure admission to an IIM or other top-tier B-school, CAT is the way to go. For a broader range of institutes, including some reputable ones, CMAT is a viable option.
  2. Preparation Time: CAT requires extensive preparation due to its difficulty level. If you have limited preparation time, CMAT might be a better choice.
  3. Strengths and Weaknesses: Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. If you excel in general knowledge and find quantitative sections challenging, CMAT’s structure might be more favorable.
  4. Backup Plan: Consider taking both exams. This strategy can provide a backup option and increase your chances of securing admission to a good B-school.


Choosing between CAT and CMAT depends on your individual career aspirations, preparation levels, and strengths. Both exams offer unique advantages and can lead to rewarding management careers. By carefully evaluating your goals and capabilities, you can make an informed decision and take a significant step toward achieving your professional dreams.

Additional Tips for Success

Regardless of whether you choose CAT or CMAT, here are some general tips to enhance your preparation and performance:

  1. Consistent Study Routine: Establish a regular study schedule and stick to it. Consistency is key to covering the extensive syllabus of both exams.
  2. Mock Tests and Analysis: Regularly take mock tests to familiarize yourself with the exam format and improve your time management skills. Analyze your performance to identify and work on weak areas.
  3. Study Material: Use high-quality study materials and reference books. Online resources, coaching for CAT, and study groups can also be beneficial.
  4. Healthy Lifestyle: Maintain a balanced diet, get adequate sleep, and exercise regularly. A healthy body and mind are essential for peak performance.
  5. Stay Positive and Motivated: Preparing for competitive exams can be stressful. Stay positive, keep your motivation high, and don’t hesitate to seek support from family, friends, or mentors.

In summary, both CAT and CMAT have their own merits and can lead to successful management careers. By understanding the differences, assessing your own capabilities, and preparing effectively, you can make the right choice and achieve your career goals.