CAT Vs Other MBA Entrance Exams

Once a candidate has decided to appear and prepare for different MBA exams, it is essential for them to understand the difference between the grand master exam, i.e. CAT, and other MBA Entrance Exams. This helps them choose the right exam that eventually helps them land their dream MBA college.

Although there is no clear answer as to which exam is better as it is entirely dependent on a candidate’s choices and interests, a clear picture of the differences helps in making the right decision.

Let us analyse these differences for a clearer picture:


Key differences: 

  • CAT is conducted by Indian Institutes of Management and is the MBA entrance test for 20 IIMs, FMS, IIT’s MBA, MDI, SPJIMR, IMI, IMT and other 3000 MBA institutes. In contrast, XAT is conducted by Xavier School of Management, Jamshedpur, and is the entrance test for XLRI, SPJIMR, IMT, XIMB and 150 other MBA colleges.
  • Both these tests are Computer-Based.
  • The key difference between the two regarding the topics and sections is: CAT neither has a Decision-Making section nor a GK Section; however, the XAT Exam has Decision-Making and GK as separate sections.
  • XAT is also considered to be a bit higher on the difficulty scale than CAT.

CAT 2019 Preparation Tips

Comparative Analysis

Total Questions 100 questions (72-75 Multiple Choice Question, rest Non- Multiple-Choice Question) 100 questions (99 Multiple Choice Question and 1 subjective Essay Question)
Time Limit 3 hours 3.5 hours
Marks awarded for each correct answer 3 1 for Multiple Choice Question

3 for Essay

Negative marking Multiple Choice Question 1/3RD negative marking

Non- Multiple Choice Question no negative marking

74 Multiple Choice Question’s with 1/4th Negative Marking

No Negative Marking for 25 Multiple Choice Questions on GK and Essay Writing test

Section Wise Difference Total sections- 3



Total Sections- 3 (Main sections);

2 (GK and Essay Test score not             counted for percentile calculation)




Order of Sections Must follow pre-defined order of sections No pre-defined order
Individual Sectional Time Limit Each section has one hour No time limit

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CAT is a test for IIM’s whereas IIFT is the entrance test for admission to all three campuses of Indian Institute of Foreign Trade.

Key Differences: 

  • While CAT is a computer-based test, IIFT is a written test.
  • CAT has a fixed exam pattern; however, the IIFT exam pattern changes every year, including the number of questions etc.
  • The marking pattern for CAT is fixed that is +3 marks for every correct answer whereas the pattern varies in IIFT between 0.5 to 1 mark for each correct answer.
  • CAT scores give an admission opportunity to test-takers in 20 IIMs, FMS, MDI, IITs, NITIE, IMI, SPJIMR, JBIMS among others while IIFT entrance exam is institute based and offers admission in IIFT Delhi, Kolkata and Kakinada campuses.

CAT is assumed to be moderately difficult as compared to IIFT with a higher difficulty level.  


SNAP is an entrance exam for SIMB Pune, SCMHR Pune, SIIB, Pune, SIMB Bangalore and all other Symbiosis Institutes. There are several similarities between the SNAP Exam Pattern and the IIM’s CAT Exam pattern and allows the prospective test taker to study for both the tests at the same time.

Key Differences:

  • SNAP is a 2-hour test with 150 questions divided into 4 sections, all of which are MCQ.
  • The marks awarded for each correct answer is 1, unlike CAT where it is 3. The negative marking is 0.25 for each wrong answer while in CAT its 1/3rd for MCQ and no negative marking for non-MCQ.
  • Any question can be attempted in the paper, and there is no sectional time limit; however, in CAT one must follow a pre-defined order and 1-hour sectional time limit is imposed.


Whether a test taker is taking CAT or CMAT or both exams for MBA admissions in 2019, depends upon the candidate’s preparation and plan to target IIM’s or other AICTE approved MBA/PGDM colleges.

Key Differences: 

  • CMAT is conducted by All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) for admissions to JBIMS, K J Somaiya, N L Dalmiya, IFMR, PUMBA, BIMTECH, Great Lakes, GIM Goa and hundreds of other MBA colleges.
  • IIMs, FMS, MDI, IITs, SPJIMR IMI, IMT, IITs, TAPMI, XIMB and other top MBA colleges in India ONLY accept CAT scores.
  • CMAT is a lower difficulty exam as compared to CAT. Although the exam pattern is somewhat the same, CMAT only has MCQ questions and 25% negative marking while CAT has 33% negative marking for wrong answers.
  • CMAT has an additional General Awareness section.

Choose wisely!

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