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Home CAT (Common Admission Test) Top Entrance [Entry] Exams for MBA [Alternative CAT 2024!]

Top Entrance [Entry] Exams for MBA [Alternative CAT 2024!]

Dec 11, 2023 2.6K Reads

If you want to get into a good business school in India, the world of MBA entrance exams is like a mosaic of possibilities. Each MBA entrance exam is like a key that opens the doors to a different school. It all starts with the booming impact of CAT, often seen as the way to get into top management schools. But CAT isn't the only exam used to get into MBA programs.

Other tests like XAT, MAT, CMAT, SNAP, NMAT, GMAT, and many more are also used. These exams give students many options that can shape their academic path. Also Read | Is there any MBA Online for 1 year?

Is CAT my only option to get into a Top Business School?

As the biggest and most important test in management education, the CAT is the way to get into elite business schools like the IIMs, MDI, FMS, IMT, XLRI, and SP Jain. India has over 50 MBA entrance exams at the national, regional, and university levels. Even though CAT, XAT, and CMAT are the exams that most candidates choose, students need to know about all the other options that are out there. These important decisions will make or break your chances of having a great job in management education.

The Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) runs the CAT, which is the most important and well-known test for getting into MBA schools in India. Over 1,200 MBA schools choose applicants based on CAT scores, making it the most important test in the field.

The CMAT, which is given by the National Testing Agency (NTA), is the second most popular test for getting into MBA programs. 1,000 MBA schools in India accept the CMAT, an important part of the admissions process.

How to take admission in IIM without a CAT Score? Is it possible? CAT Exam Fail

Notably, the XAT exam, run by XLRI Jamshedpur, is number three on the list of most popular tests. Over 800 MBA colleges in India accept the XAT score, which is still very important for people who want to study management and get into prestigious schools.

To help you find your way through the maze of choices that are out there, this article lists the top 5 MBA entrance exams from the grandeur of the Common Admission Test (CAT), which is given by the esteemed Indian Institutes of Management, to the complexities of test formats and the application process. 

Types of MBA Entrance Exams in India – 2024 

The MBA Entrance Exam is often the first and most important step in getting an MBA. However, the large number of applicants has made most business schools rethink their admissions requirements, and they now prefer to choose candidates through entrance tests.

AICTE has accepted 6 national tests. The GMAT, CAT, MAT, NMAT, XAT, CMAT, IIFT, TISSNET, and IBSAT are all tests people in India take to get into MBA programs.

The CAT, MAT, XAT, IIFT, NMAT, SNAP, and other tests are only accepted by linked colleges and a small number of business schools. The GMAT, on the other hand, is accepted by many more business schools in India and around the world. People who take the GMAT can better get into business schools worldwide.

Besides these nationwide tests, some exams are special to each institute and can help you get into those institutes but are not linked to the nationalised tests.

Below is a list of the different types of national-level MBA Entrance Exams in India:

  • Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)

GMAT is an MBA entrance exam that is accepted all over the world, which gives individuals more options. It gives you entry to foreign business schools and many Indian business schools like SPJIMR, IMI, IMT, XIMB, TAPMI, FORE, LBSIM, and GIM Goa, giving you a truly global view and the chance to get a world-class management education. The GMAT test is given all year, so candidates can pick a date that works best for them. It takes 3 hours and 7 minutes to finish the GMAT. The following parts make up the tests for the candidates:

  • Analytical Writing Assessment
  • Integrated Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Verbal Reasoning

Key Facts about the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)

Registration Start Date

6 Months before the exam date

Last Date to Apply

24 hours before the exam date

Exam Fee (General category)

INR 22,800 approx

Exam Fee (Reserved category)

INR 22,800 approx

  • Common Admission Test (CAT)

The elite Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) still accept the Common Admission Test (CAT) as a good entrance exam. Even though it is the only test that matters for getting into these top schools, it also impacts many other prestigious business schools in India, like IIMs, FMS Delhi, SPJIMR, MDI, IITs, IMI, and IMT. The test has 100 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) that you have 3 hours to answer. There are three parts to the CAT exam:

  • Quantitative Aptitude (QA)
  • Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)
  • Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VRC)

Key Facts about the CAT exam

Registration Start Date

August 2023

Last Date to Apply

September 2023

Exam Date

26 November, 2023 (Tentative)

Exam Fee (General category)


Exam Fee (Reserved category)


  • Management Aptitude Test (MAT)

A lot of business schools in India also accept the Management Aptitude Test (MAT), which is another national-level test. It works with universities like JAGSoM, IPE Hyderabad, Jaipuria, BIMTECH (Specialized PGDM), JIMS, and NDIM. It gives people who want to be managers many different classes and specialisations. The MAT exam lasts an hour and a half and has five parts, each with forty questions. There are a total of 200 questions on the test. The prospects are asked to answer questions about the following:

  • Indian and Global Environment
  • Language Comprehension
  • Data Analysis and Sufficiency
  • Mathematical Skills
  • Intelligence and Critical Reasoning

Key Facts about the MAT exam

Exam Date

  • PBT- Feb 19, 2023
  • IBT- Feb to Mar, 2023
  • CBT- Feb 26 and March 4, 2023

Exam Fee (General category)

  • Rs.1650/-

Exam Fee (Reserved category)

  • Rs.1650/-
  • NMAT by GMAC

The NMAT by GMAC is intended to give people the freedom to take the test more than once within a certain time frame. This MBA entrance exam is recognised by colleges and universities like NMIMS, K J Somaiya, XUB, VIT Vellore, SD Bacconi Asia Centre, and many other top business schools. It is designed to meet the needs of students who want to be flexible and have multiple chances to get a good score.

NMAT by GMAC can be held between the third week of October 2023 and the third week of December 2023. In two hours, the candidates have to answer 108 multiple-choice questions. There are three main parts to the NMAT test:

  • Language Skills
  • Quantitative Skills
  • Logical Reasoning

Key Facts about the NMAT by GMAC exam

Registration Start Date

First week of August 2023

Last Date to Apply

The second week of October 2023

Exam Date

Third week of October 2023 till the third week of December 2023

Exam Fee (General category)


Exam Fee (Reserved category)


  • Xavier Aptitude Test (XAT)

The Xavier Aptitude Test (XAT) is known for having a unique framework that focuses on different areas, such as making decisions and using ethical thinking. It is different because it tests individuals on more than just their ability. XLRI and other well-known business schools like XIMB, IMI, IMT, TAPMI, and Great Lakes accept it. The date for the XAT MBA entrance exam can be January 7, 2024 (Tentative).

You have 3 hours and 30 minutes to answer all 105 questions on the question paper. The XAT puts people to the test in four areas:

  • Quantitative Ability
  • English Language & Logical Reasoning
  • Decision Making
  • General Knowledge

Key Facts about the XAT exam

Registration Start Date

August 2023

Last Date to Apply

November 2023

Exam Date

January 2024

Exam Fee (General category)


Exam Fee (Reserved category)


  • Common Management Admission Test (CMAT)

CMAT is a test given all over the country by NTA. Several B-schools like GIM Goa, BIMTECH, K J Somaiya, IFMR, Welingkar, Jaipuria, and N L Dalmia recognise it as a way for people to compete for management education on a larger scale, which can help people with a wide range of job goals and ambitions. 

There are 100 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) on the paper that you have to answer in 3 hours. The CMAT is a computer-based test that measures how well a candidate does in the following areas:

  • Quantitative Technique
  • Logical Reasoning
  • Language Comprehension
  • General Awareness
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Key Facts about the CMAT exam

Exam Fee (General category)


Exam Fee (Reserved category)


  • Symbiosis National Aptitude Test (SNAP)

The Symbiosis National Aptitude Test (SNAP) is a way to get into the management classes at Symbiosis International (Deemed University). The program gives people another way to get into the many studies and specialisations the well-known Symbiosis schools offer. SIBM Pune, SCMHRD, SIOM & 12 Other Symbiosis colleges recognise this MBA entrance exam. The test has 60 questions that you have to answer in an hour. It tests people on:

  • General English
  • Quantitative-Data Interpretation & Data Sufficiency
  • Analytical & Logical Reasoning

Key Facts about the SNAP exam

Registration Start Date

2nd week of August 2023

Last Date to Apply

3rd week of November 2023

Exam Date

2nd week of December 2023

Exam Fee (General category)


Exam Fee (Reserved category)


Eligibility Criteria for MBA Entrance Exams in India – 2024

The requirements to take the MBA entrance exams in India are pretty much the same whether you are taking them in India or somewhere else in the world. Usually, people who are fresh graduates with at least 50% or who have worked for two to three years after college can apply for these tests. These are the requirements that everyone in the country must meet in order to take an MBA admissions test.

One exception to this rule is the XAT exam qualifying criteria, which doesn't require a certain minimum percentage of marks in the last year of graduation. Because of this, XAT is more open to all applicants, considering a larger group of people without requiring a specific minimum number in the graduation part.

Syllabus for MBA Entrance Exams in India – 2024

The syllabus for MBA Entrance Exams includes basic subjects like Verbal Ability, Reading Comprehension, Reasoning, and Quantitative Aptitude. These subjects are used as a basis for many other important exams. Even though these topics are important in most exams, the MBA Entrance Exam Syllabus can have different parts and topics, giving each exam its focus.

For example, the XAT exam schedule includes a very important piece on Making Decisions, which gives it a unique way to be graded that makes it stand out from other tests. The General Knowledge part of the CMAT and IIFT tests is given more weight than the General Knowledge part of the CAT and NMAT tests, which may not include this part.

To get the most out of your training and avoid wasting time, experts say you should read the MBA Entrance Exams Syllabus in full before you start studying. This planned method lets candidates make study plans that are exactly what they need to do to pass their chosen exams. For example, a joint study plan that includes the CAT, NMAT, and XAT course materials, or IIFT, SNAP, and CMAT, ensures that you prepare for these tough MBA entrance exams in a well-rounded and focused way.

What if my CAT score doesn’t meet the top business school’s requirements?

If a low score keeps you from getting into a top business school, think about other options. Getting an Online MBA can help your qualifications and give you more studying options. You can improve your image by getting work experience, going to intermediate classes, or getting certifications. You can grow by taking a break year to retake exams or looking into several different business schools, including those with programs in other countries. Using these options will ensure that a low score doesn't stop you from achieving your goals in the fast-paced world of business education, giving you more ways to move up in your job.

Can I Pursue an MBA without CAT or any other entrance exam?

Getting an MBA in India without taking the usual entrance exams like CAT, XAT, MAT, or SNAP is possible. Most MBA schools use these tests as the main way to decide who gets in, but some good schools offer an option. Aspirants can enrol in these universities without taking admissions tests, which is called a direct entrance method. This method is used a lot in UGC-DEB-approved online universities.

Instead of entrance exams, which most schools do, these online universities have a direct admissions process that is more like how students sign up for other classes. The focus on direct entry without entrance tests shows how education is changing, especially with the rise of flexible and open online platforms.

This method is important because of how popular online management and education programs are. They show people who want to get an MBA all the different options they have without having to take standard entrance tests. This path is meant to help a wider range of students who want an easy and quick way to improve their academic and professional skills in business management. It offers an alternative to entrance exams, especially for those interested in online learning platforms and the unique things they can teach.

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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

That depends a lot on the person, their job goals, and the standards of the business schools they want to apply to. Many want to get into elite schools like IIMs by taking the CAT (Common Admission Test). However, the GMAT, XAT, CMAT, and other tests are also respected, and each one has its benefits based on how well it matches the requirements of a particular program and how well it is known worldwide.

Many people agree that the Common Admission Test (CAT) is one of the hardest management entrance tests in India because it is so strict and competitive. It is known as one of the hardest tests because it has a long list of topics to cover, strict time limits, and a lot of tough competition among applicants.

The Common Admission Test (CAT) is one of the most famous and sought-after MBA entrance tests in India, especially for getting into top schools like the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and other well-known B-Schools. Its high standing comes from the strict standards it uses to evaluate papers and its good name in the academic world.

For entry to management studies, different entrance tests are accepted, giving students a choice. CAT, XAT, GMAT, CMAT, and MAT are some of the well-known tests that many business schools accept. However, each school has its own rules about who can apply and how they will evaluate applicants.

The GMAT is seen as more standardised and better for foreign schools than the CAT. It also has a different way of testing. The CAT is known for being very difficult and competitive. It is more focused on getting into Indian business schools, which makes it more difficult than the GMAT, which is more open to applicants from all over the world.

Other tests besides CAT can be used to get into some of India's best business schools. These include the GMAT or tests only given at certain schools for certain programs. People who want to get an MBA have many choices, some of which may not require the CAT test, for example, Online MBA.

Some IIMs accept GMAT marks for certain management programs, like executive or foreign MBA programs. However, not all IIMs may accept GMAT scores. The schools and programs that do accept GMAT scores may change.

People can get an MBA without depending on CAT or GMAT grades. Some business schools let people in directly or have their entrance exams so people can get into management programs without taking these standardised tests.

According to GMAT rules, students can take the test up to five times in a year, but they have to wait at least sixteen days between each try. According to this guideline, candidates can take the GMAT test more than once within a certain time.

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