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Here is a chat between a student and a counselor. Let's see what are they talking about. It may help you to make a correct decision, in case you are also in a dilemma regarding which is better GMAT or CAT.
RIDHIMA: I am confused between taking the Common Admission Test (CAT) conducted by the IIMs and the graduate management admission test (GMAT). Please help me in choosing the best option.
COUNSELOR: This question is the undying dilemma that any Indian MBA aspirant faces today. Other major questions students have been, “Which exam will I stand a better chance at?” , “Which exam will give me more “bang for the buck”?” , “Which test will give you access to MBA programs that are commensurate with your experience level?” and finally, “Which exam will open my gates to the top MBA colleges in India"?
RIDHIMA: I have these questions in my mind too!
COUNSELOR: Don't worry! Let's help you out.
We will now analyze some good points on the lasting CAT v/s GMAT debate to help you with the answers to your questions:
♦ Aspirants' Number
Over the past few years, both the CAT and GMAT have shown a constant rise in the number of applicants. However, the number of aspirants for both the exams contracted last year. Despite the decline in the number of aspirants, those appearing for CAT have been thrice in number than those appearing for GMAT. So, it is an advantage for the GMAT aspirants as they have less competition and hence, less pressure which directly leads to more openings and opportunities to land in the top MBA colleges in India.
♦ Score improvement ability
CAT is like an arrow from a bow, once shot it cannot be recalled. Similarly, on the dot, only one attempt in a given academic year is allowed for the CAT. Whatever may be the situation, either you give the exam or wait for the next year! However, in the case of GMAT, there is no limit on the number of times that you can take the test. In an academic year, one can take the GMAT five times, with a one-month interval. These reiterative attempts help you to improve your score and are used by many candidates. However, it has its own shortcomings too. So, in the situation of crisis, you can shift your GMAT date to the time best suitable to you. GMAT also allows you to reschedule the dates online until a week before the exam date.
♦ The score validity
CAT scores for a particular year cannot be used in all the coming years. Taking CAT in 2015 means that you can use its score to apply for the programs starting in 2016 only. Though some institutions give freedom to use your previous CAT scores when applying, they are very few in number. However, GMAT scores are valid for 5 years. Thus, if you take your GMAT now and manage to score pretty well but cannot apply for a program for some reason, you can use the same score to apply to any program.
♦ Institutions covered by GMAT
CAT scores can be used only for admissions in the IIM’s and other affiliated Indian Business schools. It is a quite Indian test for the Indian MBA programs though it has been conducted since past many years.
GMAT, however, opens up the gates to the best institutions, both abroad and within India. Harvard Business School, Wharton, and Stanford amongst other schools in the USA, INSEAD in France and Singapore, London Business School are some of the prestigious institutions that consider GMAT scores for admissions to their management program. Top Indian Business schools such as the Indian School of Business (ISB) in Hyderabad, Great Lakes Institute of Management (GLIM) in Chennai and S.P Jain in Mumbai have also started considering GMAT scores for entry to their management programs. GMAT scores is also considered in the top MBA colleges in India.
Thus, you certainly get an idea to think out-of-the-box. Thinking beyond the IIMs is not at all a bad idea! Knowing that GMAT opens up a lot more prestigious doors than the CAT, I am strongly in favor of the GMAT.
♦ Easy admissions
Aced the CAT and you thought you can be at ease now? Brace up because this is not it! You need to follow the other tedious steps! It has a difficult and a highly competitive admission process. Group discussions, essays, and personal interviews are the next in line before you bag the admit. Each step has a high and random “cut off”. You will have to meet the sectional cutoffs, 10th marks, 12th marks, Graduation marks. Isn’t that like a huge task? Also, the competition is extremely high. You compete with 200,000 people with similar aspirations for about 1000 seats in the top five IIMs. And of course, the prevalent reservations!
Statistics say that only 0.5 percent of the total number of CAT applicants make it to the IIMs. Most of the business schools abroad have a streamlined and a subjective system for the admissions. Once you take your GMAT, you would need to send out your essays and recommendation letters, in which there is a lot of scopes to explain certain “gaps” in education and experience. Importantly, the schools abroad don’t bother about your 10th or 12th-grade marks! All that matters is your personality and not just some arbitrary “cutoffs”.
According to the statistics, the conversion ratio is almost 10 percent for the business schools considering GMAT.
I hope that helped you, Ridhima!
RIDHIMA: Thanks a lot, sir! This was an eye-opener!