Preparing for GMAT and CAT at the same time is easier said than done. Having said that, it’s not impossible if you plan and practice. To secure admissions in an MBA program of your choice, giving the GMAT or the CAT entrance exam is necessary. Syllabus of both the exams overlaps in some parts, however, it differs in the intensity of questions being asked and the test formats. If you are wondering how to prepare for GMAT and CAT parallely, you’ve come to the right place. The following article will help you understand the basic differences in GMAT and CAT, and design a logical study plan to tackle both the exams simultaneously. 

What is the Difference Between GMAT and CAT?

The key difference between GMAT and CAT is that CAT – conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) is a national level entrance exam and is accepted by Indian business schools. On the other hand, GMAT – a registered trademark of the Graduate Management Admission Council is a global exam accepted by over 2,300+ graduate business schools and 7000 MBA programs worldwide. 

Eligibility for GMAT and CAT

For taking the GMAT, there are no specific eligibility criteria. You must be 13 years and above, however, if you come in the age group of 13-17, you need a written consent from your parents or legal guardian. If you have completed 18 years of age, you require no such consent. Besides, there is no upper age limit for the candidate applying to take the test.

To appear for the CAT, you need at least 50% in your Bachelor’s degree (for General Category candidates and those from the NC-OBC caste). For Differently Abled (DA) and SC/ST candidates, the required percentage required is 45. If you have completed your professional degrees with over 50% (45% for SC/ST/PwD) are also eligible for CAT. If you are a final year Bachelor’s degree student you are also eligible to give the CAT with the aim that you will clear your degree with the required minimum percentage. 

Syllabus Breakdown for GMAT and CAT

Preparation for CAT and GMAT firstly begins with understanding and knowing the syllabus. The CAT has 3 sections, whereas the GMAT has 4 sections, including the analytical writing assessment. Both the tests are computer-based, however the CAT is a linear exam with a standard pattern and the GMAT is adaptive in nature, meaning that the difficulty level of the next question depends on how you have performed in the previous question(for GMAT). The GMAT is for 3 hours and 7 minutes while the CAT lasts for 2 hours. 

GMATNumber of questionsTime for each section CATNumber of questionsTime for each section 
Quantitative reasoning (QR) 3162 minsVerbal ability and reading comprehension (VARC)2640 mins
Verbal reasoning (VR) 3665 minsData Interpretation and logical reasoning (DILR)2440 mins
Integrated Reasoning (IR)1230 minsQuantitative Ability (QA)2640 mins
Analytical writing (AWA)0130 mins

How to Start Preparing for GMAT and CAT Parallely 

  • Getting started is always difficult but make sure to schedule a time daily to practice your CAT quant section, followed by spending a little time on the GMAT verbal section. You can use Google/Apple calendar to block time for your daily practice. 
  • Give a mock test for both GMAT and CAT and understand your scores, weak points, and note down the time taken for each section. Keep on testing yourself on a weekly basis and compare your competence score to the previous week. 
  • When preparing for GMAT along with CAT you might feel overwhelmed due to the sheer amount of studying. Schedule enough breaks in between study sessions & mock tests.  Always have a stress management strategy handy for such times.
  • The GMAT lays more emphasis on the verbal section, whereas CAT has a higher number of questions in the quant section. Therefore, it’s advisable to focus on preparing for the quant of CAT and simultaneously improve your vocabulary and word knowledge for GMAT. 
  • Time required to prepare for GMAT (2-3 months) is much less than time required for CAT. Typically a student spends 10-12 months preparing for the CAT. So, you can start preparing for the CAT before the GMAT. Once you have mastered the CAT prep, you can dedicate some additional time to the GMAT verbal section. For this, you can focus on learning and refining SC and CR, and RC questions.

Additional Tips to Ace your CAT and GMAT Prep Simultaneously 

  • Since the GMAT is an adaptive test, the difficulty level of your next question depends on your performance in the previous question. This gives you no option to review your answers or skip a question. However, CAT, which is a non-adaptive test, focuses on accuracy  instead of ability. You can review your answers in a section before submission.
  • Do not fixate on scoring the top percentile, focus more on your preparation. Through this approach, you can improve your accuracy to answer questions. In CAT, only percentile scores are reported, so your score depends solely on how many questions you answered correctly. 
  • In the GMAT, focus on the verbal section, this will help you with your Analytical writing (AWA) essay as well. If you make certain adjustments in your CAT prep to learn the basics of GMAT, you can easily crack both the exams parallely. 

We hope this article on how to prepare for GMAT and CAT together helped you. Both these exams will help you secure an admission into the college of your choice, hence, it’s advisable to come up with a smart study plan, especially when you will be studying them simultaneously. 


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