GMAT vs XAT — haven’t you often wondered which to take when you decide to pursue a higher degree, especially an MBA? Since both the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and the Xavier Aptitude Test (XAT) are popular entrance examinations, you must have wondered which would benefit you more. Through the course of this article, we will talk about the key differences of these exams and whether you should choose the GMAT or XAT. 

Before we move onto what distinguishes one from the other, let’s tell you the main difference you should be aware of is that GMAT is globally recognized. It is accepted by over 2000 business schools all over the world. On the other hand, XAT is restricted to a section of Indian Business Schools.  

So, if you are a prospective applicant targeting an MBA program in any of the global universities, then GMAT —  conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council — is the best option for you. However, if you wish to pursue MBA in India and if your host university, for instance, XLRI – Xavier School of Management, Jamshedpur, accepts XAT, then it’s the right choice for you. More so because, XAT costs way less than the GMAT if it’s a concerning factor for you.

We have mentioned detailed differences of the two examinations below, so keep reading for more clarity and understanding. 

GMAT vs XAT — Key Differences: 

Criteria GMAT XAT
Full Form Graduate Management Admission Test Xavier Aptitude Test
Conducting Body Graduate Management Admission Council XLRI, Jamshedpur
Eligibility Criteria Anyone over the age of 13. No upper age limit Bachelor’s Degree. No upper age limit
Nationality All Nationalities Only Indian, UAE and Nepal citizens 
Validity 5 years 1 Year
Frequency All round the year Once a Year
Number of Attempts 5 times a year. Maximum 8 in total No limit
Accepted by More than 2000 universities around the world Only 150+ Indian universities
Number of Sections 4 sections—Quantitative Ability—Verbal Reasoning —Integrated Reasoning —Analytical Writing Analysis 4 sections—Decision Making —Verbal and Logical Ability —Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation —General Knowledge
Total Maximum Marks 800 100
Negative Marking No negative Marking —No negative marks for GK questions— Reduction of -0.25 marks for each wrong answer among 75 questions. —0.5 marks deducted if more than 8 questions are unattempted
No. of choice in MCQ 5 4
Number of Questions 80 100
Exam Duration 3.5 hours  3 hours 
Exam Fee 250 USD 1750 INR

Format, Score, and Duration:

The stark difference between these two tests can be found in their pattern. A special feature of GMAT is that it is computer-adaptive i.e. the difficulty level of the next question is determined by your performance in the previous one. Besides, the GMAT exam has four sections: 

  • Analytical Writing Assessment — 1 question; 30 minutes. Score range — 0-6
  • Integrated Reasoning — 12 questions; 30 minutes. Score range—1-8
  • Quantitative Reasoning— 31 Questions; 62 minutes. Score range —6-51
  • Verbal Reasoning— 36 Questions; 65 minutes. Score range — 6-51

On the other hand, the XAT examination pattern occasionally changes, especially in the number of questions dedicated to each section and the respective marks. But, the fundamental aspects in which a candidate is assessed remains the same. Moreover, the scoring is the same for all sections — 1 point for each correct answer. Although, there is a reduction of -0.25 marks for each wrong answer among 75 questions in Paper 1.  Additionally, 0.5 marks are deducted if more than 8 questions are unattempted. However, there are no negative marks for GK questions. Below are the details based on the XAT 2021 exam pattern. 

  • Paper 1: 75 Questions;165 minutes (No specific time-limit for each section)
  • Decision Making; 21 Questions 
  • Verbal and Logical Ability; 26 Questions 
  • Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation; 28 Questions
  • Paper 2: 25 Questions;15 minutes
  • General Knowledge

Eligibility, Fees and Validity of Scores:

As pointed out in the table, anyone above the age of 13 can opt for GMAT, however, you need a letter from your parents for the same if you are below 18. There is no requirement of any high school diploma or graduate degree for taking the test. However, the XAT is only for graduate students who have had at least 3 years of formal college experience. But if you are in your final year of studies, you are allowed to apply.

Another aspect that distinguishes one from the other is the application fees. The GMAT costs 250 USD, which is approximately 18,500 INR, while the XAT costs 1750 INR for registration. Moreover, since the GMAT is conducted all throughout the year, you have the option of rescheduling by paying an additional cost that ranges from 50 USD to 150 USD based on the days prior to the test. This option is not available for XAT as it is only conducted once in a year.

Another key difference is that GMAT is valid for 5 years and XAT is valid only for 1 year. This can be a pertinent factor that will help you choose between the two. 

What Should You Choose: GMAT or XAT?

Ultimately, this question can be solved by answering another simple question — what are your top 5 schools and program choices? 

If your answer is Harvard, Stanford, INSEAD, ISB or other globally top ranked universities, then you’ve to take the GMAT test. But, if your choices are XLRI, SP Jain Mumbai, IMT Ghaziabad, Great Lakes Chennai etc. — Indian universities — then XAT is your best option. Do note that XAT is not the only accepted test for the top Indian B-schools, GMAT is also widely accepted among these universities. And, unfortunately, if you’re an international candidate looking for these colleges or other top Indian B-schools, then GMAT is your only option. 

Furthermore, if you’re an Indian, UAE or a citizen of Nepal, and you wish to pursue MBA in any of the B-schools that accept XAT, then definitely XAT is your best option. Moreover, it is comparatively much cheaper than GMAT, which is 10 times the cost of the XAT registration. 

Hope after reading this article, you no longer are pondering over GMAT vs XAT. All you need to do is, get your priorities right and see what best works for you and your requirements. Moreover, whichever exam you choose, the GMAT or XAT, a good study plan and consistent practice is what will help you achieve your goal. So, work hard and make it to the business school of your dreams.


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