CMAT vs CAT: Which is easier?


MBA aspirants tend to undertake the entrance exams whose scores are accepted by more number of management schools and colleges. There are two national-level management exams whose score is accepted by over 1000 institutes. These are the Common Admission Test (CAT) and Common Management Admission Test (CMAT).

Both the tests are a prerequisite for anyone seeking admission to an MBA programme in the registered colleges. However, there are a lot of differences between CAT and CMAT, especially the difficulty level of the question paper. CMAT is regarded to be a much easier exam than CAT. Despite this, the total number of test-takers for CAT is around thrice the number of CMAT. Let’s look at the factors responsible for this scenario.

Is CMAT easier than CAT?

Multiple factors make CMAT look easier in front of the CAT. Candidates who cannot secure 60 percentile in CAT manage to secure 96+ percentile in CMAT.

  • CAT is conducted much earlier than CMAT. Since the syllabus for CAT and CMAT is very similar, candidates preparing for both exams will get extra time to get concepts clear for CMAT.
  • The competition level of CMAT is lower than the CAT because of the less number of applicants. Nearly 60,000 to 80,000 people register for CMAT exam every year. Whereas, more than 2.4 lakh candidates appear for the CAT exam.
  • The total number of applicants have a direct impact on the percentile of all candidates. Hence, less competition contributes to higher percentile.
  • The CAT is considered to be one of the toughest competitive exams in India because the paper contains very tricky questions. The CMAT paper, on the other hand, consists of simple questions that are easy to solve.
  • The difficulty level of the overall CAT paper is usually from moderate to high. However, the CMAT paper is considered by experts to be from easy to moderate difficulty level.
  • Since CMAT scores are not accepted in IIM, many of the best minds of the country do not prefer to appear for any exams other than the CAT.

CAT vs CMAT 2019* Question Paper Analysis

The total duration to complete both papers is 180 minutes or three hours. There are three sections in the CAT paper and four in the CMAT. There are 60 minutes sectional time-limit for each section of the CAT paper. CMAT applicants do not face such restrictions.

CAT 2019 Slot 1 Section-wise Analysis Summary

Sections Number of Questions Overall Difficulty Level
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension MCQ- 27


Moderate to Somewhat Difficult
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning MCQ- 24

Non-MCQ- 8

Quantitative Ability MCQ- 23

Non-MCQ- 11

Total 100 Moderate to Somewhat  Difficult

CMAT 2019 Section-wise Analysis Summary

Sections Number of Questions Overall Difficulty Level
Language Comprehension 25 Moderate
Logical Reasoning 25 Easy to Moderate
Quantitative Techniques and Data Interpretation 25 Easy to Moderate
General Awareness 25 Moderate to Difficult
Total 100 Easy to Moderate

*The CMAT 2020 exam is yet to take place. We have taken 2019’s question papers for fair comparison.

Why is CAT tougher than CMAT?

  • Since CAT is accepted by almost all best MBA colleges in India, the difficulty level of CAT is much higher than the CMAT.
  • There is no sectional time limit in CMAT. Candidates can jump across the questions as per their ease. However, there is a sectional time limit for every section of the CAT paper. This builds a lot more pressure on the CAT applicants than CMAT.
  • Along with the sectional time limit, the CAT also consists of tricky questions which are very time-consuming.
  • Despite having an extra section than the CAT, CMAT can be solved without much pressure. As there is nothing to ‘solve’ in the General Awareness section, a candidate can spend 1 to 2 extra minutes on the time consuming or trickier questions.
  • Most premier colleges accepting CAT use the sectional percentile for shortlisting purposes. However, top CMAT accepting colleges do not have sectional cut-offs.

Stay connected with fellow students on PaGaLGuY for CMAT 2020 Exam

How easy it is to score 98+ percentile in CAT?

Even though the CMAT paper is easier than CAT, securing 98+ percentile in CMAT is not easy as many might think. To obtain a remarkable percentile in CMAT, a candidate needs to focus equally on all the sections of the paper.

The General Awareness section also requires a candidate to have a decent amount of current affairs knowledge along with the static GK. Thus, like CAT, a candidate has to work hard to secure a wonderful percentile.

Candidates studying for both CAT and CMAT might find the preparation easier due to the similarity in the syllabus for three sections. However, an aspirant who is only preparing for CMAT will find the difficulty level of CMAT to be quite high.