Before going forth with the application for your exams for pursuing the MBA, you should be able to understand the basic difference between CAT and other MBA examinations and most importantly the XATs.  This is to better your understanding on the examination itself, the prospects and the syllabus and preparation you will be working upon.

The basic need for is because the preparation is different. The sections do not match and neither do the way it is conducted. The process of the entire examination differs variably. To ensure understanding based on the examination one should understand how the entire process works and how to go forth with it. The main thing to do is have a comparative analogy of both the examinations and understand how the entire process works.

Popular searches have led us to believe that the difference between XAT and CAT is a huge issue to students preparing for the same and it makes us think that perhaps there is no inept clarity over the two and it requires changing and progressing so that students do not face difficulty while preparing for the exams.

There are 5 major differences between the two that should be investigated while preparing for the exams:

  1. CAT is mainly conducted by the IIMs and is the examination for 20 IIMs, IITs MBA, FMS, MDS, SPJIMR, IMI, IMT, and over 3000 other MBA colleges.
  2. XAT is by XLRI Jamshedpur and is the examination for XIMB along with at around 150 other colleges.
  3. The varying syllabus and pattern of the papers are also one of the key differences of the two which needs to be investigated. CAT does not have any decision making or general knowledge section where as XAT has decision making and general knowledge sections.
  4. The difficulty level of the two too is considered a differing factor since XAT is considered a bit more difficult than the CAT examination.
  5. Now the major difference is that who goes for the papers or who selects what they want to go for. The thing is it lies of one’s perspective and approach and what they want from the colleges that they are applying to.



The listed differences that are important to give a detailed overview is as follows:


Basis of difference CAT BY IIMs XAT BY XLRI
Exam Date November 25, 2018 January 6, 2019
When to Apply August 1st week to September Last week August 3rd week to December 2ndweek
Exam Conducted by Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) Xavier School of Management (XLRI) Jamshedpur
Testing Mode Computer Based Test Computer Based Test
Total Questions 100 (Since 2014, Earlier 60) 100 (Since 2017, earlier 98)
Overall Time Limit to Attempt the Exam  3 hours 3½ hours
Type of Questions 72-75 questions are MCQs, rest Non-MCQs 99 MCQs + 1 Subjective Essay Writing Test
Answer Options for MCQs 4   5
Marks Awarded for each Correct Answer 3   1 for MCQs

  3 for Essay Writing

Negative Marking MCQs with 1/3 negative marking; No negative marking for Non-MCQs 74 MCQs with 1/4 negative marking; No negative marking for 25 MCQs on GK and Essay writing test
CAT Vs XAT Difficulty


Moderately Difficult Difficulty level is higher
Difference Between CAT and XAT Syllabus: Total Sections 3   3 (Main sections)

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

Difference Between CAT and XAT Syllabus: Section-1 Reading Comprehension & Verbal Ability  – (34 questions) English Language & Logical Reasoning- 24 questions
Difference Between CAT and XAT Syllabus: Section-2 Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning -32 questions Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation- 27 questions
Difference Between CAT and XAT Syllabus: Section-3 Quantitative Ability-34 questions Decision Making-21 questions
Difference Between CAT and XAT Syllabus: Section-4 Not Applicable, only 3 Sections General knowledge-25 questions Essay Writing (Subjective)- 1 question
Facility to Choose Order of Sections No, must follow pre-defined order of the sections Yes, Any question from any section within overall time limit
Individual Sectional Time Limit Each section has a 1-hour time limit No Restriction
Top MBA Colleges Accepting Exam Score 20 IIMs, FMS, MDI, SPJIMR, IMI, IMT, IITs, TAPMI, XIMB and hundreds of other B-schools.  XLRI, SPJIMR, IMT, TAPMI, XIMB and 145 other MBA colleges


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