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Key Differences between MAT & CAT

Last Updated - August 13, 2018

MAT and CAT are the two most sought-after management entrance exams in India. With MBA entrance exam season at its peak, aspirants seeking admission in top B- schools of India are appearing for a variety of tests. If both the exams land you in a management institute, then what makes them different?

MAT EligibilityMAT Exam PatternMAT Syllabus

As CAT or the Common Admission Test and MAT (Management Aptitude Test) are the two most popular MBA exams across the country, students often face a dilemma of choosing between CAT and MAT. Being an MBA aspirant, how will you decide whether to go for CAT or MAT in the first place?

In this article, we have mentioned the differences between MAT and CAT so that the cloud of doubt is cleared.

Read Why Take MAT 2018? 9 Compelling Reasons

Frequency of Test and Conducting Authorities

AIMA and IIM Lucknow


  • MAT is conducted 4 times a year by the All India Management Association (AIMA).
  • It is held in the months of February, May, September and December.  Read MAT September 2018 Exam Dates Released
  • Candidates can appear for the exam according to their convenience and their preparation standard.
  • They may appear for any session, as many times in a year.


  • CAT has conducted annually by 6 IIMs on a rotational basis.
  • It is held only once a year. This year, CAT is scheduled on November 25. Check CAT Exam Pattern
  • Students have a single shot of cracking the exam.

Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility Criteria

The minimum eligibility criterion for both exams is a graduation degree in any discipline from a recognized institute/ university.

However, aspirants need to obtain a minimum aggregate in the Bachelor’s degree for CAT. You must have an aggregate of 50% marks to be eligible for CAT.

But as per MAT eligibility criteria, there is no such minimum percentage requirement. You will be eligible for MAT as long as you have completed your graduation.

Exam Pattern

Exam Pattern

There are several differences in the exam pattern of both exams. For instance,

  • CAT is an online test (computer based) whereas MAT is held in online and offline mode (both computer and paper-based).
  • CAT question paper is available only in English while MAT paper is bilingual. It will be available in English and Hindi.
  • CAT comprises of 3 sections- Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning and Quantitative Ability. MAT essentially has only one additional section- Indian & Global Environment. Check MAT Exam Pattern
  • The total number of questions in CAT is 100 while for MAT it is 200.
  • Each question carries +3 marks in CAT and 1 mark is deducted for a wrong answer. A question in MAT carries +1 mark and a penalty of 1/4th mark is charged for incorrect responses.

Duration of Exam and Time Management

Duration and Time


  • The duration of MAT exam is 2 hours and 30 minutes.
  • Sectional time limit is not applicable so time pressure does not pose a problem in this exam.


  • The duration of CAT is 3 hours and sectional time limit is applicable.
  • Each section should be solved within an hour.

Difficulty Level

Difficulty Level


  • The difficulty level of MAT is generally easy to moderate.
  • Students who have only studied for CAT can solve questions in MAT easily.
  • This means if you focus just on CAT, you will cover most MAT syllabus and will not have to study for the exam separately.
  • On a scale of 1 to 5, the difficulty level of CAT is 5/5 whereas that of MAT is about 3/5.


  • Difficulty level of CAT is the highest amongst all management entrance exams conducted in India.
  • The DILR section of CAT is an uphill task and has been challenging for the past 2 years.

Level of Competition

Level of Competition

CAT is the key to IIMs and other top institutes like FMS and IITs.  More than 2 lakh students fight for about 2500 seats. So, you can imagine the level of competition- cut throat.

As MAT is the gateway for tier II schools, the competitive spirit amongst its applicants is less fierce. CAT is usually their top priority.

Read Top B-schools accepting MAT scores above 600

Advantage of Solving Previous Years’ Papers

Advantage of previous year papers

You must have heard from many of your professors, seniors or friends that solving previous years’ papers is a must. This is true to a certain extent only.

For an exam like CAT, solving papers is not much of a help as the conducting body is always introducing some changes in the exam pattern. It can however acquaint you with the standard and pattern of questions asked. Solving MAT Sample Papers is extremely fruitful and will help you to a greater extent. You will also see that they repeat certain kinds of questions.


  • CAT is the most important prerequisite for admission into more than 1000 business schools across India. It is a portal for getting into the prestigious IIMs and other tier I institutes. Every year more than 2 lakh candidates appear for the exam in a hope of making it to these institutes.
  • MAT on the other hand, has a lesser scope. It is the gateway for around 630 MAT Colleges only.

The decision to take MAT or CAT involves the consideration of a lot of factors. Applicants must choose the exam after analyzing all the alternatives. Both the exams have its fair share of challenges and obstacles. These exams are important and open the door to many opportunities. The aforementioned difference between CAT and MAT exam will help you in making the final decision. 

In a nutshell the fight for CAT seats is much more difficult and brutal but the reputation & ROI is all worth the effort. This does not mean that MAT is not difficult. There are several good institutes that fall under the umbrella of MAT. We hope you make the right choice. Good luck!



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