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Is the XAT Exam tougher than the CAT Exam?

An MBA from a premier institute in India is a dream for millions of students all across the globe. All of them undergo the management entrance test to

An MBA from a premier institute in India is a dream for millions of students all across the globe. All of them undergo the management entrance test to secure admission to their dream premier institute. 

The confusion to attempt CAT or XAT, which is tougher CAT or XAT, is common among MBA aspirants. The candidates need to understand the differences for making a proper preparation strategy.

Let’s understand the differences between the two management entrance exams on various factors. FYI the XAT 2022 exam will take place on 02nd January 2021 while the CAT 2021 exam will be conducted on 28th November 2021.

Part 1: We’ll try to analyze the difference basis Conducting Body, Exam Fees and Eligibility Criteria. XAT only requires graduation and is much cheaper for candidates.

Full Form Common Admission Test Xavier Aptitude Test
Conducting Body Indian Institute of Management Xavier School of Management
Eligibility Criteria Graduates with at least 50% marks (45% in case of SC/ST/PWD) Graduation Only
Mode of Exam Online Online
Exam Fees Rs 2000 (General Category) Rs 1000 (SC/ST/PWD) Rs 1750
Mode of Registration Online  Online


Part 2: Let’s look at the difference in the Syllabus, Types of Questions and time limit for CAT and XAT. The candidate will easily analyze that CAT has less time duration and MCQs, making it comparatively difficult than XAT.

Overall Time Limit 3 Hours 3 ½ Hours
Total Questions 100 100
Types of Questions 72-75 MCQs, rest Non-MCQs 99 MCQs + 1 Subjective Essay
Sections Quantitative Aptitude, Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning and Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension Decision Making, Verbal & Logical Ability, Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation and General Knowledge. 
Total Marks 300 100
Total Sections 3 3 Main Sections

2 GK & Essay test score


Part 3: We’ll analyze key differences for the candidates for CAT and XAT. In this table, candidates can find points of difference regarding Negative Marking, Individual Section limit and Difficulty level of questions.

Negative Marking MCQs have 1/3rd negative marking, Non-MCQs do not have any negative marking 74 MCQs have ¼ negative marking, 25 MCQs on GK & Essay do not have negative marking
Difficulty level of Questions Moderately Difficult Higher Difficulty level than CAT
Facility to choose order of sections Not allowed. Candidate has to follow pre-defined sectional order. Allowed. Any question from any section can be attempted.
Individual Section Time Limit Yes. Verbal Ability’s 34 questions in 60 minutes. Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning’s 32 questions in 60 minutes. Quantitative Ability’s 34 questions in 60 minutes  No Restriction. Candidates can answer English language & Logical Reasoning’s 24 Questions, Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation’s 27 Questions, Decision Making’s 21 Questions, General Knowledge’s 25 Questions, and Essay in any order.


Part 4: Acceptability of CAT and XAT: These two are top-rated management entrance tests and attract top-notch institutes from all over India. 

Number of B-Schools accepting the exam score 20 IIMs plus 1000 other B-Schools in India More than 160 Institutes


Which one is better, CAT or XAT?

The candidates may find choosing between CAT or XAT very difficult as format-wise CAT poses some serious concerns such as less number of MCQs in comparison to XAT, strict negative marking than XAT, and less time limit to answer the questions. But CAT’s difficulty level of questions is moderately difficult in contrast to XAT. Two different sections, such as General Awareness & Essay writing, make the candidates think twice before making the payment for XAT. 

To conclude, the candidate should first decide on the MBA Institute rather than choosing between CAT & XAT. Some Institutes accept both the sores, and this gives the benefit to candidates. They can provide both the exams and increase the possibility to meet the cut-off for the MBA Institute.

Is the Quant section of XAT tougher than CAT?

If you talk about the syllabus, then both of them have the same topics. But XAT has a combination of Quantitative Aptitude and Data Interpretation which divides the concentration of the candidates. Let us take a look at the syllabus of both the management entrance exams.

XAT Quantitative Aptitude & Data Interpretation Syllabus

LCM & HCF Percentages Profit & Loss Interest
Speed, Time & Distance Number System Algebra Geometry
Mensuration Pure Math Venn Diagrams Linear Equations
Quadratic Equations Complex Numbers Logarithms Progressions
Binomial Theorems Surds & Indices Inequalities Permutation & Combinations
Set Theory Mixtures & Allegations Trigonometry Data Tables
Data Charts Pie Charts Graphs Data Analysis & Comparison


 CAT Quantitative Aptitude Syllabus

Number Systems LCM & HCF Profit, Loss & Discount Percentages
Speed, Time and Distance Time & Work Simple & Compound Interest Ratio & Proportion
Averages Quadratic and Linear Equations Complex Numbers Logarithms
Binomial Theorem Sequence & Series Surds & Indices Inequalities
Probability, Permutation & Combination Set Theory Functions & Geometry Mixtures & Allegations
Trigonometry Coordinate Geometry & Mensuration


The candidates need to attempt 34 questions in CAT and 27 questions of QA & DI in XAT. The candidates have to cover more topics while preparing for XAT Exam. The difficulty level of 27 questions in XAT is tougher than 34 questions in CAT. The only thing that goes in favor of XAT is the time limit, as the candidate is free to choose to attempt any section, and they have 210 minutes to try the XAT. To conclude, the candidates should prepare for CAT keeping XAT in mind for the best preparation.

Good Luck!