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Differences and Similarities between CMAT, MAT & CAT
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Shivani Tiwari

Content Curator

There are numerous candidates who wish to pursue an MBA as a career choice. If you consider an MBA degree as a passport to your career, then considering a degree from a prestigious institute becomes a priority. In this regard, the primary goal lies in learning and understanding of the most popular management entrance exams.

CMAT (Common Management Admission Test), MAT (Management Aptitude Test) & CAT (Common Aptitude Test), all three entrance tests are conducted for offering admission in management and allied courses. Often, aspirants wonder about which is a better option to choose.

Since CAT Exam is very high in difficulty level, aspirants look for easier options- CMAT & MAT. This article explicates the difference and similarities between CMAT, MAT & CAT so that you streamline your strategy and get into your dream B- School. 

Overview of CMAT, MAT & CAT

CMAT is conducted by National Testing Agency (NTA) to provide admission for MBA in the colleges approved by AICTE. This exam was introduced to reduce the burden of students who plan to appear in different state boards or private college entrance exams.

The main objective of introducing CMAT is to reduce the stress of students and expenditures on coaching for different entrance exams of B- schools, mock tests, books and various other materials that are available in the market required for preparation. CMAT 2020 is scheduled for January 28, 2020.

On the other hand, MAT is conducted by All India Management Association (AIMA). It is a standardized test to facilitate Business school to screen the students. MAT 2020 is scheduled for December 8, 2019 (offline) and December 14, 2019 (online).

A good CAT score is a ticket to top B- schools in India including premium institutions like IIMs, FMS, MDI, IIT, NITIE, SP Jain, etc. You need a good CAT Result or percentile to crack the test and for the further selection process. More than 100 institutes use the CAT score to shortlist candidates for their admission process.


Below are the key differences between CAT, CMAT & MAT exams for the reference of candidates:

Parameter CAT CMAT MAT
Number of Sections Three Four Five
Duration 180 minutes 180 minutes 150 minutes
No. of Questions 100 100 (25 from each section) 200 (40 from each section)
No. Of Papers 1 1 1
Test Centre Candidates can choose four cities as per the choices Candidates can choose three cities Candidates can choose three cities
Level of Difficulty High Moderate Moderate
Marking Scheme Correct Answer: +4 Incorrect Answer: -1 Correct Answer: +4 Incorrect Answer: -1 Correct Answer: +1 Incorrect: -.25
No. of Exams conducted yearly Once a Year Once a Year Four times a year
Major Colleges All IIMs, IITs, FMS, MDI, IMT JBIMS, K.J. Somaiya, GIM Christ College Institute of Management, IMS, BIMTECH (Noida)
How to Apply

Exam Pattern

CMAT –It’s an online exam. An exam of a total of 100 questions, 4 sections each consisting of 25 questions. The duration of the exam is 180 minutes. Check CMAT Exam Pattern

MAT – It consists of objective questions and it can be both online and offline mode on the basis of the student’s convenience. This exam is conducted four times a year- January, May, September and December. It’s an exam of a total of 200 questions and needs to be answered in 2 hours 30 mins.

CAT – This exam is divided into three sections:

  • Quantitative Ability (QA, 34 questions)
  • Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR, 32 questions)
  • Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VRC, 34 questions)

Marking Scheme

In CMAT, each question carries 4 marks and 1 mark is deducted for every wrong answer. Students can have a trail of the test to get familiar with CMAT exam pattern  Download CMAT Sample Paper

In MAT, each question carries 1 mark and for every wrong answer, ¼mark is deducted.

In CAT, every correct answer carries +4 marks and for every wrong answer, -1 is deducted. There is no negative marking for MCQs and no penalty for unanswered questions.

Cut Off Marks

  • The score of 290-300 in CMAT will lead the student to top business school. Check CMAT Cutoff
  • A score of 80 to 100 is considered as a good attempt in MAT.
  • A minimum of 90 percentile is required to qualify in the CAT score.

Difficulty Level

There isn’t much difference between CMAT and MAT in comparison with CAT. CMAT Exam is much easier than MAT as the number of questions to be answered are less than the number of questions in MAT.

CAT is considered to be one of the toughest exams and considers a normalization method for results.

The duration of time given to solve the CMAT exam is more than MAT, although there is no significant difference in the nature of the questions asked in MAT and CMAT both very different from CAT exams.

Advise to MBA Aspirants

Many students who aspire for MBA, stress themselves to qualify the toughest entrance exams like CAT. There is a huge competition and not all students are successful. Here’s where exams like CMAT or MAT make their way to B- schools and the difficulty level of these tests in also moderate in comparison to CAT.

Remember, whatever entrance exam you take up, you should know your strengths & weaknesses. We hope with our insights and inputs, it will be much easier to choose the right exam that can save you time, money and extra efforts. Good luck!