The Common Admission Test (CAT) is taken by test takers to pursue an MBA within India. Most of the top B-schools in India, which include the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), accept the CAT as part of the admission criteria.
On the other hand, the GMAT is the most widely accepted exam for MBA admissions in the world. In practice for over 6 decades, the GMAT is accepted by over 2,300 schools across the world.
The major difference between these two exams is that the GMAT, unlike CAT, has a defined syllabus. Mba.com - the official site of the GMAT - clearly states the question types that appear on the GMAT and the skills that they test you on. However, the official website CAT explicitly states that there is no “defined syllabus for CAT preparation.”
While the testing sections and parameters on both exams are distinct, there are also a few overlapping areas. For instance, the Quantitative Reasoning sections in both exams are pretty similar, with questions appearing from topics such as algebra, probability, permutations, number systems, and geometry, among others.
The Verbal Section of the two exams, however, has some significant differences. Broadly, the Verbal Reasoning section of the GMAT consists of three sub-sections: Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning, and Reading Comprehension. In contrast, the Verbal Reasoning section of the CAT is not very well-defined in terms of its syllabus.
Now, before we move to the commonalities in the Verbal Reasoning section of the two exams, let’s understand the differences. Firstly, the GMAT, unlike CAT, tests you extensively on your grammar skills. Sentence correction, which is an integral part of GMAT, is not frequently tested on CAT (It has not been tested on CAT since 2017!). On the other hand, CAT tests you on paragraph structures - parajumbles, para completion, and para formation are core components of the exam. Similarly, Critical Reasoning, which is an indispensable part of the GMAT, is not often tested on CAT.
However, the Reading Comprehension questions of both the GMAT and CAT are similar to a great extent. And so, if you are preparing for the Common Admission Test (CAT), it can go a long way in helping you improve your GMAT scores.
In this blog, we throw light on some questions that are common to the verbal sections of both, CAT and GMAT.
This question is specific to Reading Comprehension on the GMAT but can be tested in various other formats on the CAT.
a. Primary Purpose of a passage on Reading Comprehension
The ‘main idea’ question is one of the most frequently asked questions on both GMAT and CAT. Here, you are asked to identify the overall purpose of the passage from the author’s perspective.
Such questions on both exams are generally asked as follows:
What is the chief concern of the author?
What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey?
b. Summary of a paragraph
On CAT, the primary purpose category of questions is tested in another interesting manner. A small paragraph is given, which is followed by four alternative summaries. You are asked to pick the answer choice that would best capture the theme or essence of the passage. The instructions given for such questions generally read:
“The passage given below is followed by four alternate summaries. Choose the option that best captures the essence of the passage.
Fact-based questions are fairly common in both exams. These are the easy question types where you are required to understand the fact stated in the passage and answer the direct question that tests you on that given fact.
Such questions would most often be asked in the following manner:
According to the passage, which of the following is the primary reason for why “XYZ”?
As described in the passage, "XYZ” can be defined as which of the following?
Based on his views mentioned in the passage, one could best characterise X as being:
Which of the following best describes an “XYZ,” as defined in the passage?
Do you notice the manner in which these questions are asked? All they require you to do, is pick the fact from the passage and then select the answer that would best match what the passage says.
Inference questions require a fairly deep understanding of the passage. Such questions require you to understand the implications of the information stated in the passage and draw inferences or conclusions from that information.
Such questions are asked on the exams in the following manner:
Which of the following statements about “XYZ” cannot be inferred from the passage?
The author most likely says that “XYZ could occur” because:
The author of the passage is least likely to agree with which of the following views?
Which of the following statements, if true, could be seen as not contradicting the arguments in the passage?
It can be inferred from the passage that, when XYZ occurred, the most likely result was which of the following?
Notice the way these questions are framed. Aren’t they different from the fact-based ones? These questions ask you to make those implied conclusions and inferences.
Such questions evaluate your ability to understand the role, function, or purpose of a specific highlighted word, sentence, or idea in the passage. To solve such questions, you are required to read the context in which that specific idea or word is used to get to the right answer.
Such questions are asked on the exam in the following manner:
In the last paragraph, the author uses the example of “XYZ” to illustrate the following:
Which of the following best explains the purpose of the word “XYZ” as used by the author?
Which one of the following best sums up the overall purpose of the examples of X and Y in the passage?
These questions evaluate your critical thinking abilities and check on how well you would be able to identify information that might support or negate the author’s perspective.
Such questions are likely to be asked on the exam in the following manner:
The author of the passage is most likely to agree with which of the following explanations for “XYZ”?
All of the following, if true, would weaken the author’s claims EXCEPT:
Which one of the following statements would undermine the author’s stand regarding “XYZ”?
All of the following statements, if true, could be seen as supporting the author's arguments in the passage, EXCEPT:
You must remember that because the syllabus of CAT is not definite, you might always have a few surprises. For instance, Sentence Correction was last tested on the CAT in 2016, with only two questions asked. Critical Reasoning questions on CAT, if asked, are largely based on conclusions and inferences; this is a significant change from GMAT critical reasoning questions, which include a host of topics such as assumptions, paradox, evaluation, and boldface, among others.
It is a fantastic idea if you are preparing for the CAT and want to take a shot at the GMAT. You know where you stand right now and where you must put in the extra effort.
For further help and information on preparing for the GMAT and applying to colleges like ISB, IIMs, SP Jain and others, feel free to connect with our expert counsellors. We will be more than happy to help!