Difference between CAT and GATE Exam

When it comes to higher education and career advancement in India, the Common Admission Test (CAT) and the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) are two of the most recognized entrance examinations. However, despite their prominence, they cater to very different academic and professional goals. In the article we will discuss the difference between CAT and GATE Exam.

The Indian academic scenario boasts of several competitive exams, but CAT and GATE stand out due to their national importance. While CAT opens doors to business education, GATE serves as a gateway to advanced engineering and technology programs.

Difference between CAT and GATE Exam

  • CAT: This examination primarily aids in securing a seat in MBA programs of top-tier business schools in India, including the esteemed IIMs. 
  • GATE: GATE aspirants generally aim for admissions into M.Tech/Ph.D. programs in prestigious engineering institutes. Additionally, GATE scores are often considered for recruitment in prominent public sector units.

Overview: Difference Between CAT and GATE Exam

At the outset, the fundamental difference between CAT and GATE lies in their purpose. CAT is the entrance exam for admission into prestigious Management programs like MBA and PGDM offered by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and other top B-Schools in India. On the other hand, GATE serves as the key to pursuing postgraduate programs (M.E., M.Tech., Ph.D.) in Engineering and Science disciplines at premier institutions like IITs, NITs, and various Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs).

Exam Pattern and Difficulty Level

The exam pattern also reflects the core differences between CAT and GATE exam. CAT is a computer-based test (CBT) with a duration of 180 minutes, consisting of three sections. GATE is also a CBT conducted over 3 hours, but it comprises questions specific to the chosen engineering or science discipline along with some general aptitude questions.

Difference between CAT and GATE Exam : Organizing Bodies

CAT is an initiative of the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs). Conversely, the GATE Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering)is a conducted by Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).

Difference between CAT and GATE Exam : Eligibility Criteria

For CAT, aspirants need to have a Bachelor’s degree with at least 50% marks or an equivalent CGPA. The requirement is 45% for reserved categories. In contrast, GATE candidates should possess a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering/Technology or a Master’s degree in relevant science subjects.

Read More: CAT Exam Question paper 

Difference between CAT and GATE Exam : Exam Pattern & Syllabus

CAT evaluates candidates on Quantitative Ability, Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension, and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning. On the other hand, GATE assesses General Aptitude and a subject-specific domain, contingent on the candidate’s engineering or science discipline.

Difference between CAT and GATE Exam : Duration & Mode of Exam

CAT Exam is conducted for 2 hours while GATE Exam conducted for 3 hours.The Examination mode for both the exam is online.

Difference between CAT and GATE Exam : Frequency

CAT is conducted annually, typically in November. Similarly, GATE is an annual affair occurring around February.

Difference between CAT and GATE Exam : Scoring & Validity

CAT employs a percentile system, and scores usually remain valid for a year. GATE, in contrast, provides an absolute score out of 100, with a validity extending to three years.

Difference between CAT and GATE Exam : Uses of the Scores

While CAT scores predominantly assist in MBA admissions, some non-IIM business schools also recognize them. GATE scores, meanwhile, are multifunctional, aiding in M.Tech/Ph.D. admissions, certain fellowships, and even PSU recruitment.  

Read More: CAT Exam Benefits 2024

Difference between CAT and GATE Exam : Difficulty Level

The difficulty of CAT versus GATE is subjective and varies based on individual strengths, background, and preparation strategies. For someone with a strong engineering or technical background, GATE might seem more straightforward, while CAT could be a challenge, and vice-versa. It’s essential to align one’s strengths and interests with the nature of the exam when gauging difficulty.

Read More: Is CAT Exam Tough?


CAT and GATE, despite being high-stake exams, serve different academic and professional aspirations. Choosing between them should be based on one’s career goals, be it business management or advanced engineering and research. 


Q:What is the primary purpose of the CAT exam?

A:The CAT exam is primarily for admission into MBA programs at top business schools in India, especially the IIMs.

Q: What do GATE scores primarily help with?

A:GATE scores are primarily used for admission into M.Tech/Ph.D. programs in top engineering institutes, and they're also recognized for recruitment by several Public Sector Units (PSUs.

Q: Who conducts the CAT and GATE exams?

A: CAT is conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) while GATE is jointly conducted by the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs.

Q: Are both exams computer-based?

A: Yes, both CAT and GATE are computer-based tests.

Q:How long are the CAT and GATE scores valid?

A:CAT scores are valid for one year, whereas GATE scores are valid for three years.

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