How is the NMAT Exam different from the CAT?

NMAT and CAT are the two most common exams for pursuing management courses. These two exams are the gateway to top MBA schools. But it is often observed that MBA aspirants get confused with the syllabus of both NMAT and CAT. Hence, in this article, we will discuss how the NMAT exam is different from the CAT.

NMAT exam syllabus and the CAT exam syllabus

Both NMAT and the CAT exam syllabus consist of three sections. Although the syllabus of these two exams is almost the same, the CAT exam syllabus is a little vast compared with the NMAT syllabus. Let’s find out the syllabus of these exams below:

Verbal Ability (VA)Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)
Logical Reasoning (LR)Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)
Quantitative Ability (QA)Quantitative Ability

Significant differences between NMAT and the CAT exam

NMAT is easier than the CAT

The difficulty levels of both exams are different. But NMAT is comparatively easier than the CAT. Aspirants who are preparing for the CAT can easily appear and crack the NMAT exam. Most of the topics are the same in both exams. However, the main point of difference between these exams is that NMAT is a speed-based test. 

On the other hand, CAT is not a speed-based test. In the NMAT exam, aspirants need to quickly solve the problems with a high accuracy level. But in the CAT exam, aspirants can take time to solve problems.

Question Types

The question types are also different in both exams. In CAT, a mixture of MCQ and TITA types of questions are asked. In fact, in the VARC section, more TITA style questions are asked. And the good thing is that there is no negative marking for attempting these questions. On the other hand, in the NMAT exam, only MCQs are asked, and there is not a single TITA style question in NMAT.

Question patterns of NMAT vs. CAT are shown below:

VA – 36 questions(All MCQs)VARC – 24 Questions(TITA – 2 to 4 questionsMCQs – 20 to 22 questions)
LR – 36 questions(All MCQs)DILR – 26 questions(Mix of MCQs and Non-MCQs questions)
QA & DI – 36 questions(All MCQs)QA – 24 questions(Mix of MCQs and Non-MCQs questions)

Marking Scheme

In CAT, three marks are awarded for each correct answer. And there are a total of 76 questions out of a total of 228 marks. Whereas, in the NMAT exam, one mark is awarded for each correct answer.

Negative Marking

There is no negative marking for wrong answers in NMAT. But in CAT, for every negative answer, one mark is deducted (except in TITA questions). So, aspirants can freely answer in the NMAT exam and can make maximum attempts. But, on the other hand, as each marks counts, aspirants need to be careful about attempting answers in CAT.

Mode of Examination

Both NMAT and CAT exams are conducted online once a year. But slight differences are there in both the modes of the exam. CAT is conducted only one day and in 3 slots. The time and place of the exam are predetermined, and aspirants can not change it. In the NMAT exam, aspirants can appear in three attempts, with a 75-window in between the two exams. Aspirants are also allowed to choose their own time and place for the exam.


From the above discussion, we have noticed though NMAT and CAT both are preliminary exams for MBA admissions, the difficulty level of NMAT is less than the CAT. Very good preparation is essential to appear in both these exams. Hence, to start your preparation, you can always rely on BYJU’S Exam Prep programs. These online class programs with comprehensive study material allow you to start your preparation efficiently. Not only this, but aspirants can also appear in free quizzes and attempt previous year question papers in this app. High-quality free videos from experts are available for the aspirants who want to crack NMAT and CAT exams.