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GMAT or CAT? What do students and executives feel is better?

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GMAT or CAT? Which is better?

New Delhi/Mumbai: 2013 saw a huge number of students opting for Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), when the Common Admission Test (CAT) applicants dropped to a seven-year low.

These changes in numbers indicates that changing environment of management education in India when the economy is decelerating considerably.

For freshers and people with a few years of experience, CAT is the chief point of entry into a full-time 2 years MBA programme. On the contrary, GMAT allows one to opt for B-Schools across the globe. GMAT now is being more preferred by experienced professionals, for short executive MBA programmes.

Around 22,878 applicants from India took the test in 2013, in comparison with 22,310 in 2012. Lat year's number for candidates taking the test was 25 per cent more than what was in the year 2010 for GMAT. However, the candidates percentage opting for CAT has dropped down to 4 per cent since 2010.

The dwindled popularity of CAT and the increasing fascination towards GMAT clearly shows that the experienced executives are eager to redefine their skills amidst the slowing economy. On the contrary, the craze for full-time MBA is diminishing.

Professor Sankarshan Basu, chairperson of career development services at IIM Bangalore said, "GMAT takers have an average work experience of seven years. It is catering to an entirely different pool of applicants."

The number of institutions in India considering GMAT scores have increased too. In India, around 235 management programmes considered GMAT scores last year. This is a huge number in comparison with 37 in 2010.

Why GMAT is preferred?

GMAT has an open-ended format. Professor Basu adds, "About 6-7 years ago, if you had not done an MBA early on, chances of you getting into management education after having had substantial work experience in India were non-existent. Now, a lot of Indian institutions offer diploma level one-year management programmes for executives and take GMAT scores into account. That has also altered the equation to a great extent."

Nonetheless, the applicants for GMAT from around the world had reduced this year, resulting in first such dip in the period of 3 years.

He adds, "2013 has been the strongest year ever for GMAT volume in India, backed by robust demand among candidates who aspire for management education at leading business schools and rising acceptance of the test's scores worldwide and in India," says Ashish Bhardwaj, vice-president, Asia Pacific at Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which conducts the GMAT. "At the same time, there is a slowdown in global GMAT volume in 2013 as 2012 was an exceptional year."

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