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XAT or CAT: which is tougher?

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To get admission in top MBA colleges in India, MBA aspirants appear in various management entrance examinations. For getting admission in IIMs, every year lakhs of students appear in CAT (Common Entrance Examination). XAT (Xavier Aptitude Test) is also a top choice to take admission in management programme.XAT is conducted by XLRI Jamshedpur for courses in Human Resources Management, General Management etc. Both XAT and CAT are different in many ways like difficulty level, marking scheme, number of questions, and type of questions etc. In the article, different factors and parameters are discussed to highlight how one exam is different from others.

How XAT is different from CAT

Both the exam has a different preparation strategy and time management. XAT aspirants must give it serious importance as given to CAT. It is said that XAT is more or less 60% similar to CAT. Below is the table that shows major difference between XAT and CAT:

Difficulty Level in XAT and CAT

The difficulty level for both XAT and CAT is high. Due to Decision Making and Quantitative Aptitude XAT is considered to be tough. The XAT examination requires good reasoning skills. Whereas, CAT requires Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning skills.

Time Limit

In XAT exam there is no time limit. There are 72 questions to attempt in 170 minutes. The advantage in this exam is that candidates are allowed to switch between different sections. Whereas in CAT candidates are not allowed to switch between sections. One hour is given for each section in CAT. Once the time limit is reached then candidates are not allowed to switch between sections.

Focus of XAT and CAT Exams

In XAT, focus is given on reasoning skills and language skills. Thus, aspirants should have good knowledge of grammar and decision making skills. In CAT, the emphasis is given on DILR section.

Type of Question in XAT and CAT

XAT has questions which have focus on case studies. In CAT, the questions are puzzle based which requires logic to solve the problem.


There are three sections in CAT which are Reading Comprehension and Verbal Ability, Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning, and Quantitative Ability. XAT has two parts in which first part contains English Language and Logical Reasoning, Decision Making and Quantitative Ability. The second part has General Knowledge section.

Number of Questions in XAT and CAT

In CAT there are 30 questions in each section which consists of MCQ and non-MCQ questions. In XAT, there are 72 questions in part A and part B has 25 questions.

Marking Scheme

In CAT, +3 marks for correct answer and -1 for wrong answer are given. In XAT, +1 for right answer and -0.25 for wrong answer are given.


This can be concluded from above parameters of both exams that both XAT and CAT have their plus and minus points. CAT has the advantage of time limit but the toughness bar is really high. But in XAT, the cutoffs are not very high thus cutoff score can be reached. CAT has few easy questions and tests the candidates on lesser parameters than XAT. Since XAT is comprehensive, students consider it as difficult. Like in CAT,the performance of student in XAT is matched against the performance of all other students. The result is presented in percentile. Thus to measure the difficulty level of both exam is irrelevant. The aspirants must prepare themselves to outperform their peers.

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