The Common Admissions Test (CAT) is a very difficult entrance examination; at times not because of the nature of the examination, but the competition that it ensues. A large number of students write the examination and the students are fighting over microscopic margins to get a higher percentile- this is what makes the examination highly competitive.
The CAT examination is so competitive that you have to be in the 99th percentile to actually compete with the best and get into the B-school of your choice. IIMs across India require that students secure a ridiculously high percentile, which means that they have to be on top of their game in both the Quantitative and the Verbal sections.
Students, however, have another route that they can take- the GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test).
THE GMAT ADVANTAGE- The competitive positives
The GMAT is a global standard for MBA programs and the weight given to it is rather heavy. It forms a critical part of your application and is a key determinant of your admission. Apart from universities, top multinationals assess your resume, and the GMAT adds weight to your CV.
A good score can often lead to a scholarship, which reduces financial stress and helps you focus only on your education. Also, the amount of time required to prepare for the GMAT is much less than required for CAT.
The GMAT is administered worldwide, which means that a score of over 680 itself can be very good, and help you secure admission in a good university. The pool of universities accepting a GMAT score is large and diverse. The GMAT is a weighted average of both the Quantitative and the Verbal sections.
The GMAT score has a validity of 5 years. So, a good score lasts beyond just a year, unlike the CAT, in which you would need to repeat the examination every year. The GMAT allows you the flexibility of building your profile for your MBA gradually- you do not need to start right away.
The GMAT tests your logical and time managerial abilities; in effect, it does not only focus on the test, but aims to improve your own thinking.
The test does not have a specific date only- you can easily book your date and your time and take the examination. Being an adaptive examination, the GMAT focuses on the difficulty level of the questions answered and does not penalize you heavily for making mistakes in difficult questions. It depends on the ease of the questions answered.
I HAVE TAKEN THE CAT, HOW WILL IT HELP ME WITH MY GMAT?
There are a few overlaps between the two examinations- while CAT is a little different from the GMAT.
- Critical Reasoning: While the CAT has reading comprehension-questions, it does not test you on critical reasoning, unlike the GMAT
- Analytical Writing Assessment: The Analytical writing topic of the GMAT is not followed on the CAT.
- Time: The GMAT and CAT, both require you to be accurate and adept at time management
VERBAL SECTION AND QUANTS SECTION
The Verbal Section of the GMAT is a trickier and tests you on more stringent concepts than the CAT, while the Quantitative section of the GMAT is not as hard as the one on CAT.
The Verbal section of the GMAT has a logical component, which tests your ability to analytically reason and come to a conclusion. The Quantitative section of the GMAT has two sections- problem-solving and data sufficiency. Statistics is not a topic that is extensively covered on the CAT, but on the GMAT you get questions from probability, permutations, and statistics.
The Verbal section on the GMAT is about:
Sentence Correction: This part of the examination is much more difficult on the GMAT than on CAT. Grammatical errors and its identification requires you to be on your toes. The difference from the CAT is that the GMAT tests you on your meaning identification ability rather than just grammar. CAT can help you understand these concepts in a much quicker manner.
Reading Comprehension: Reading Comprehension is a difficult portion because it requires the student to comprehend and logically connect the different parts of the essay to arrive at answers. Understanding these questions will be key to solving RCs, and the CAT has a similar level of acuteness for reading comprehension.
Critical Reasoning: There are just a few questions of critical reasoning on the CAT when compared with the GMAT, and the level of difficulty is much greater on the GMAT.
Integrated Reasoning (IR) is a portion on the GMAT exam, which is not a part of the adaptive testing sections-The Quantitative and the Verbal. The LRDI section of the CAT is much tougher, and therefore if you have prepared for CAT, you do not require to do much work for this section of the GMAT.
ANALYTICAL WRITING ASSESSMENT
The CAT does not have a section such as the AWA. The Analytical Writing Assessment is assessed separately on the GMAT. You have to find flaws in a particular argument and then write about it in an essay format.
GMAT- PREPARATION TIME
There are a lot of pros and cons to weigh when speaking about the GMAT. If you have already prepared for the CAT examination, you might be familiar with a few concepts of grammar and quants. Knowing these concepts will put you at an edge over the other students who are preparing for the exams.
PERCENTILES AND THEIR IMPACT
Your percentile score on the CAT can be a guide to your level of effective preparation required for the GMAT. Although the examination has certain portions that are different from the CAT, you can use the logic and the other skills you develop during the CAT seamlessly in the GMAT.
Higher PERCENTILE (Above 94):
A 94 percentile plus score means that you have prepared really well for the CAT, but lost out to the top bracket, which does not mean that you are not good enough. Remember that we mentioned the CAT is really competitive due to the number of people applying and writing the exam.
- Verbal Section: Since the GMAT has a few new sections such as Critical Reasoning, and higher grammatical ability required, you need to practise these sections. Your verbal skills can be assessed by doing a diagnostic test.
- Quantitative Section: The Quantitative Section on the CAT is much tougher than that of GMAT, therefore, it is obvious that you do not require a preparation level which is as much as you would in the CAT.
Lower PERCENTILE (Below 94)
As per past studies, a percentile below 94 would require you to work a lot harder when it comes to both the Quantitative and the Verbal sections. A lower percentile indicates that you need to work hard, especially to do well in the Data Sufficiency questions on the GMAT. Apart from that, you would also need to work on becoming acute with both the SC and CR sections of the test. A critical examination of your Reading Comprehension skills will also tell you how you are placed with that section of the GMAT.
To summarize, it is obvious that the CAT will give you a feel of how a competitive examination works. However, a lot of fine-tuning is required to bring your level of intensity to that of the GMAT.