MBA, or Master of Business Administration, is a globally recognized postgraduate degree designed to help people improve their business and management skills. MBA specialists are in high demand not only in business administration, but also in a variety of government agencies, public sector organizations, private industry, and other settings.

Recognizing the value of an MBA degree, many leading B-schools in India now provide admission to MBA course through standardized entrance tests. The most popular is the CAT, which is a national-level exam administered by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) for admission to India’s top MBA programs. SNAP, CMAT, XAT, NMAT, and other major MBA tests for admission to India’s leading MBA programs.

IIMs, such as IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM Kolkata, IIM Indore, IIM Kozhikode, and IIM Lucknow are India’s top MBA schools, offering admission to PGDM and MBA programs. Apart from the IIMs, renowned management institutes in India include Christ University in Bangalore, XLRI in Jamshedpur, NMIMS in Mumbai, SPJIMR in Mumbai, and Symbiosis in Pune. Delhi University, Pune University, Rajasthan University, Mumbai University, and other government institutions are also popular MBA destinations.

Once you’ve narrowed down your selection of institutions to apply to, you’ll need to start gathering information about the various entrance exams that are required to obtain seats in the B-Schools of your choice.

Common Admission Test (CAT)

The Common Admission Test (CAT) is a computer-based entrance exam administered annually by one of the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) for admission to an MBA course at India’s top B-Schools. A legitimate CAT score opens the door to more than 100 management institutes across India, in addition to the IIMs. Every year, the CAT exam is held for qualifying graduates and students in their last year of graduation.

The CAT exam is divided into three sections, each with its own set of questions.

Section No. of Questions Duration
Verbal Reasoning and Reading Comprehension 26 40 minutes
Quantitative Aptitude 26 40 minutes
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning 26 40 minutes

For every correct answer, the candidate is awarded 1 mark and for every incorrect answer, 0.25 marks are deducted.

Performance in the CAT exam plays an essential role in getting a seat in one of the IIMs, however, each IIM shortlists candidates for the second stage of selection that may be independently analyzed. The procedure of shortlisting includes Written Ability Test (WAT), Group Discussions (GD), and Personal Interviews (PI).

Xavier Aptitude Test (XAT)

The Xavier Association of Management Institutes (XAMI) organizes the Xavier Association of Management Institutes (XAT) for admission to postgraduate management programs at some of India’s premier management institutes, such as XLRI, XIME, GIM, and XIMB. It’s a general awareness and aptitude test that runs on a computer. A subjective writing test is also included in the exam, for which the candidate needs to write an essay.

The following four sections make up the XAT entrance exam:

Section No. of Questions Duration
Decision-Making 21 165 minutes
Verbal and Logical Ability 25
Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation 28
General Knowledge 26 15 minutes

The candidate is awarded 1 mark for every correct answer whereas for every incorrect answer 0.25 marks are deducted. There is no negative marking in the General Knowledge section.


NMAT is another entrance exam that enables candidates to compete for admission in an MBA course at some of the best-rated B-Schools. GMAC conducts a computer-based examination. Reputable business institutions, like NMIMS University’s Mumbai, Bangalore, and Hyderabad campuses, accept a valid NMAT score.

The NMAT is a two-hour exam with 108 multiple-choice questions. There are three sections, each with a given amount of time. In order of preference, candidates might choose from one of the following sections:

Section No. of Questions Duration
Language Skills 36 28 minutes
Quantitative Skills 36 52 minutes
Logical Reasoning 36 40 minutes

There is no negative marking in NMAT.


Symbiosis National Aptitude (SNAP) is an online English school entrance exam for admission to Symbiosis International (Deemed) University’s Post-Graduate Institutes. Despite the fact that there is a single application form, the candidate must apply separately for each institute within Symbiosis International University, according to the information published on each institute’s website.

There are four sections in SNAP and the duration of the test is two hours. The structure of the exam can be understood with the help of the following table.

Section No. of Questions Duration
General English: Reading Comprehension, Verbal Reasoning, Verbal Ability 34 120 minutes
Quantitative, Data Interpretation & Data Sufficiency 35
Analytical & Logical Reasoning 36

When Should You Start Your Preparation?

Preparation for CAT, XAT, NMAT, or CMAT exam should begin at least two years before the exam date. This is the amount of time each applicant will need to assess and improve their deficiencies in order to be exam-ready.

In addition, two years is ample time for candidates who need to improve their English speaking and reading abilities. Candidates must have a strong vocabulary and communication skills in order to pass the B-School group discussion and interview stages.