Management Entrance Tests: CAT vs. MAT

MBA Entrance Examination is the gateway to seek admissions into different MBA colleges in India. There are a host of management tests for MBA. While some colleges conduct their own exams, while other B-Schools accept scores of premier exams like CAT and MAT. This article compares these exams on the basis of different parameters. Read on to know more.

There are several entrance exams for MBA such as Management Aptitude Test (MAT), Common Admission Test (CAT), IIFT, FMS, SNAP and Xavier’s Admission Test (XAT). CAT and MAT are the two most renowned national level entrance tests to seek admissions to the various B-Schools in India. The basic difference between the two is that CAT score is accepted by the top tier business schools including the IIMs (Indian Institute of Management), while MAT score is conducted to get admissions into the next tier of MBA institutes.

Let’s take a look at all the details about CAT and MAT exams:

Common Admission Test

Among all the entrance exams for MBA, CAT is the most prestigious. It is a gateway to the world renowned institutions like IIMs. Some other A-grade colleges that also accept CAT scores include SP Jain (Mumbai), Mudra Institute of Communications MICA (Ahmadabad), IMT Ghaziabad, IMD Gurgaon, and NIRMA. IIM is the apex body, which decides the exam date and conducts it.

The exam is conducted once in a year. The aspiring candidate should hold a degree in any discipline with aggregate 50% marks. Students in their final year of graduation are also eligible to apply. Cracking the exam requires knowledge in different areas such as verbal ability, data interpretation, critical reasoning, reading comprehension and problem solving. To get an admission call from the top institutions, the candidates need to start their preparation early.

Management Aptitude Test

MAT is another most sought after entrance exam among aspiring MBAs. The exam is conducted four times in a year, mainly in the month of February, May, September and December. The exam witnesses the maximum number of participating students in December and February. The apex body that conducts the exam is AIMA and its score is valid for the duration of one year. The exam is recognized by the Government of India as a national entrance exam and approved by MHRD. Over 500 institutions accept MAT scores each year. It is comparatively easier than CAT exam, but students scoring above 95 percentile get admission calls from the next tier MBA Schools.

Some of the MAT participating colleges include Christ College Institute of Management in Bangalore, IMS in Ghaziabad, Indian Institute of Finance in Delhi, BIMTECH in Noida, and Alliance Business Academy in Bangalore. The test pattern of MAT is somewhat similar to CAT exam. However, General Awareness is an additional section in the test. The students in their final year or degree holders are eligible to take the test.

Key differences between MAT and CAT

Now once you have a clear idea about both the exams, let us discuss the key differences between them.

Key Differences CAT MAT
Apex Body Conducted by IIMs Conducted by AIMA
Mode of Exam Computer-based Computer based or Paper-Pencil based test
Participating Colleges Six IIMs and other top B-Schools Next tier institutions
Level of Difficulty Difficult Comparatively Easier
Frequency of Exam Once in a year Four times in a year
Pattern of Test Mostly three application based sections Mostly five formula based sections
Test Duration Usually the duration of test is 2 hours and 15 minutes Usually the duration is 2 hours and 30 minutes


CAT is the first step of getting selected into a top management college. Time management plays a crucial role in all the types of entrance exams. Once a student is shortlisted, the next level is preparing for Group Discussion and Personal Interview. The exam patterns may get changed from time to time. However, the basic areas that are tested by these management exams include data interpretation, General Knowledge, Critical Reasoning, and Verbal Ability.

Other Entrance Exams

To understand the other popular management exams such as XAT, IIFT and FMS, take a look at the below given chart:

Key Differences IIFT XAT FMS
Mode of Test It is a written exam It is a paper-pencil based exam It is a paper-pencil based exam
Duration of the Test 2 hours 2 hours and 30 minutes 2 hours
Test Level Difficulty level is much similar to that of CAT, FMS and XAT exam Shares the same level as FMS, CAT and IIFT exam Considered same as XAT and CAT
Exam Pattern Includes four sections with around 200 questions Includes three sections with more than 100 questions Includes four sections with around 175 questions


Xavier Admission Test (XAT) is conducted by Xavier Labor Relations Institute (XLRI Jamshedpur), which is one of the top ranking business schools in India. XAT scores are accepted for admissions to the different XLRI courses. Admission to MBA courses at IIFT is done on the basis of its written exam; Essay writing, Group Discussion and Interview.  Similarly, SNAP test is conducted to seek entry to the institutes affiliated with Symbiosis University.

Time management, hard work, dedication and smart work are the key to crack competitive exams like MAT and CAT. So, start your preparation now!

Author Bio

Swati Srivastava is a professional writer who likes to write on different topics related to education in India. Her articles give useful information about various institutes which provides coaching for CAT, MAT, SNAP, and XAT.

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