Use CAT to nail GMAT

Your preparation for the Indian management exam can go a long way in helping you score in GMAT, but you should also note the differences between the two

education Updated: Mar 14, 2012 10:40 IST
HT Horizons Correspondent
HT Horizons Correspondent
Hindustan Times

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a computer-adaptive standardised exam that tests you in mathematics and English in a way that measures your aptitude to withstand the academic rigour of graduate business programmes. Here’s how students who have attempted CAT can leverage their preparation and expertise for the GMAT.

Verbal section
The verbal section of GMAT contains 41 questions to be answered in 75 minutes. All questions have to be answered in a serial order because, unlike CAT, this exam does not allow you to skip any question. The three types of questions in this section are:

1. Sentence Correction: CAT candidates would have practiced scores of SC questions, and both exams require candidates to spot grammatical errors. But, there is an important difference. GMAT SC is based on American English while CAT SC is based on British / Indian English.

2. Reading Comprehension: This is the area your CAT preparation can be used to a maximum. The passages in the CAT and GMAT are almost equally cryptic. The only difference is that the content of the GMAT passages are more international. So read American journals and news sites to acquaint yourself.

The other difference between the CAT and GMAT when it comes to RCs is the way the questions are presented. In CAT, the passage appears on the left pane of the screen and all questions appear on the right. In GMAT, the passage appears on the left pane of the screen and only one question appears on the right. Only after you provide the answer to the first question and click ‘next’, will you be able to see the second question of the same RC.

So you cannot predict how many questions each passage will have beforehand.

3. Critical Reasoning: This section needs some getting used to. The level of CR tested in the CAT is straightforward: there are two or three questions on the basis of assumptions and inferences. CR in GMAT is more evolved. There will be 13 to 14 CR questions among the 41 verbal questions in the GMAT. In a CR question, you will be given an argument based on an elaborate framework of premise, conclusion, reasoning, assumption and inference. This argument will be followed by a question. There are about eight or nine types of questions based on five aspects of the argument. You should practice at least 500 questions to be able to match up to the level of CR questions asked in GMAT.

In GMAT, this section consists of 37 questions to be handled in 75 minutes. There are two types of questions: (1) Problem Solving (PS) and (2) Data Sufficiency (DS). About a third of the questions will be based on DS.

The good news is that many topics for CAT will not be tested in GMAT including logarithms, trigonometry, calendars, clocks and shares. However, there is an inordinate amount of weightage given to number theory and inequalities.

PS questions test your ability to arrive at the answer from a given set of information given in the question.

DS questions test your ability to identify the most minimal amount of information required to answer a question.

In GMAT, DS accounts for 12 to 18 questions. The toughest questions in the quantitative section will be a mixture of number theory and inequalities couched in a DS question.

Analytical writing assessment
This is one area that you would never have had to practice during the CAT preparation days. No Indian MBA entrance exam involves essay writing. However, the GMAT tests your clarity of thinking in this section. It looks for content, organisation of thought process, language skills and writing mechanisms in evaluating the essays. An interesting point is that the essays are reviewed by two entities—a human reader and a software programme.

In GMAT, test takers will have to write two essays within 30 minutes each. The essays are graded on a scale of 6 (in steps of 0.5) and this score is not clubbed with the score that you will receive for the quantitative and verbal sections (on a base of 800 in steps of 10). The good news is that the AWA is not a tough section to ace.

Similar yet different
* Sentence correction questions in the CAT are in Indian (UK) spellings while the GMAT uses American English
* The reading comprehension for both exams employs equally crypic passages and similar question types
* Critical reasoning questions are similar but more in the GMAT
* The GMAT requires you to write two essays, an area not tested in any Indian management entrance exam

Will taking GMAT after cat help?
Take the case of Akanksha, a final-year student preparing for CAT 2011. Assume she gets 85 percentile score in CAT; it would not guarantee a call from the IIMs. She faces a dilemma—should she choose a tier two B-school after college in June 2012 or wor and sit for CAT 2012? GMAT is also an option that she can look at. This international examination is accepted by most B-schools globally and the scores are valid for five years, so she can study in any of the 71 colleges in India that accept GMAT or go abroad. Naveenan Ramachandran, 4GMAT

First Published: Mar 13, 2012 12:31 IST