MBA Exams in India – An Ocean of Opportunities

mba exams
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October till January –can be officially marked as the ‘MBA Season’ in India. Lakhs of students appear for some of the toughest management entrance exams in order to seek admission into their dream MBA colleges. In last few decades, MBA exams have become an obvious choice for a post-graduate degree. Hundreds of B-schools have sprouted across the country and so has the number of exams increased. The competition is fierce! It is but natural that the entire process can be quite overwhelming.

We answer TOP SIX questions that would crop up in any MBA aspirant’s mind choosing and preparing for an MBA exam. Here you go:

1. Why should I do an MBA?

MBA is on everyone’s mind. MBA could be your career defining moment. It will lay the foundation of a life you have always dreamt of. Simply because, it gives you a plethora of opportunities to:

• Vertically rise above the corporate ladder
• Horizontally expand your knowledge base.

2. Many colleges offer PGDM courses. Is it equivalent to MBA degree? What should I choose?

PGDM Course

MBA Degree

PGDM stands for Post Graduate Diploma in Management.MBA stands for Masters of Business Administration.
These courses are offered by institutes that are autonomous bodies.The degree is offered by a University to which colleges are affiliated.
The institutes have the independence to design and revise their own curriculum.The curriculum is as per the University guidelines.
The PGDM courses are trimester based. The entire course is divided into six 4-month trimesters.The MBA courses are semester based. The entire course is divided into four 6-month semesters.
The curriculum is regularly updated hence is more industry relevant. They are more flexible.The curriculum is only updated once in a few years as per the University guidelines. The changes are unanimous across all colleges that are affiliated to the particular University.
The PGDM courses are often more expensive as compared to the MBA degree courses.The MBA degree is usually more affordable.
PGDM courses focus on a holistic development and are industry-oriented.MBA courses are theory based and exam-oriented.
For e.g. the IIMs, XLRI, SPJIMR, and MDI Gurgaon offer PGDM coursesFor e.g. Faculty of Management Studies and SIBM/SCHMRDoffer MBA degree as they affiliated to Delhi University, SIU respectively.

Please Note: The institutes that are accredited by the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) have their PGDM courses equivalent to an MBA degree.

3. How Many MBA Exams Are Conducted in India?

There are almost 50 MBA entrance exams conducted across India:

  1. National Level
  2. State Level

mba exams

There are a few colleges that conduct their respective entrance exams in addition to considering the scores of some national/state level MBA exams. Here is the list of some of the top exams:

Exam Name

Conducting Authority
Common Aptitude Test CATIIMs
Xavier Aptitude Test XATXLRI, Jamshedpur
Common Management Admission Test CMATNational Testing Agency
Symbiosis National Aptitude TestSNAPSymbiosis International University
NMIMS Management Aptitude TestNMAT by GMACGraduate Management Admission Council
Management Aptitude Test MATAll India Management Association
Indian Institute of Foreign Trade ExamIIFTIndian Institute of Foreign Trade
AIMS Test for Management Admissions ATMAAssociation of Indian Management Schools
ICFAI Business School Aptitude TestIBSATICFAI Foundation for Higher Education
Maharashtra Common Entrance Test MAH-CETDirectorate of Technical Education, Maharashtra

4. Are all MBA entrance exams similar to each other?

The answer to this question is – YES and NO.


  1. All the exams broadly test on following areas:
    1. Verbal Reasoning
    2. Reading Comprehension
    3. Logical Reasoning
    4. Quantitative Ability
    5. Data Interpretation
    6. General Awareness (Static & Current)
  2. All exams are objective type with multiple choice questions (MCQs).
  3. The syllabus overlaps for most exams.
  4. All the exams test you on –Aptitude, Accuracy, and Speed.


  1. The exam pattern is different for each exam. Some exams like CAT and NMAT test you only your verbal, quant and logical skills. Whereas other exams like SNAP and XAT test you additionally on your general knowledge
  2. The marking scheme is unique to each exam. MBA Exams like CAT and XAT have negative marking but NMAT and IBSAT has no negative marking
  3. CAT is the only exam which tests you with Non-MCQ questions. Also XAT has a section called Decision Making which is unique to it
  4. The difficulty level of all exams is what makes them stand out. The ratio of Aptitude: Accuracy: Speed varies for each exam
  5. The mode of MBA exams for most are online (computer-based tests), whereas an exam like MAT is both paper-based and computer-based
  6. The list of participating collegesis different for each exam. Some exams scores like CAT and XAT are widely accepted by non-IIM and non-XAMI colleges respectively. However there are many colleges that conduct their specific exams like MICAT and IRMASAT, in addition to considering the standard exam scores
  7. Last but not the least, the exam fee.  

mba exams

5. Will a common approach work for all exams?

Even though the exam topics for the various exams overlap with each other, you will still need to follow different approach for each of the exam you appear for. Here is what you need to keep in mind:

  1. Understand the exam pattern for each exam. Here is a checklist:
    1. Number & types of sections – This is different for each exam. CAT and NMAT have 3 sections each, whereas XAT and SNAP have 4 sections. There are a few exams like CMAT that have 5 sections also
    2. Total number of questions – The total number of questions and questions per section are different for each exam.
    3. Duration of the exam – Most exams are 3 hours long like CAT and XAT, but NMAT is 2 hours and MAT is 2.5 hours
    4. Sectional time limits–There are a few exams which have a defined time limit for each section. For example, each of the three sections in CAT is 60 minute long but in NMAT the break up is 22 min (Verbal), 60 min (Quant), and 38 min (Logical). Few others like XAT and IBSAT have no sectional time limits.
    5. Toggling ofsections – Some exams let the candidates toggle between sections like XAT, SNAP, and IBSAT while others like CAT or NMAT do not allow sectional jumps.
  2. Understand the marking scheme of the exam. If an exam (like NMAT) has no negative marking you can use guess-work while answering questions. In an exam like CAT or SNAP where there is negative marking, guessing will not be very helpful. Also in an exam like XAT, there is negative marking for leaving unanswered questions after a certain limit.

6. How do you choose and prepare for the various MBA entrance exams?

Choosing the Exams:

  1. Research: If you are in the final year of graduation, start finding out what options you have at least 10-12 months prior. Check out the exam lists and other details and decide what kind of colleges you would like to apply for. Subsequently, what all are the corresponding exams you need to write
  2. Expense: The management entrance exams can be quite heavy on the pocket. It is economically not feasible to appear for all of them. It is advisable to pick and choose exams that are accepted by a large number of good colleges. Secondly, certain exams like NMAT take extra fee for sending scorecards to specific participating institutes
  3. Date Clash:Most exams are usually conducted on a Sunday. In case there are 2 exams which you are interested in but there is a date clash, make your choice amicably.

Preparing for the Exams

  1. Concepts: Once you are clear about the exams, start brushing up your concepts at least a year before the exam time. If you want to score well you need to have:
    • Clear concepts
    • Accuracy while answering
    • Practice to perfection
  2. Mocks: Write mock tests for all the different exams you want to appear for. They are the best way to understand the kind of approach you would need for the exams you appear for
  3. Time Management: Mastering the time is an important aspect while preparing for a particular exam.

Hope you found this article about ‘ MBA Exams’ informative.

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Shrinag is a writer, designer, and a social media buff who loves to scribble, explore and present the things in a creative way. When he is not writing or designing, he loves reading books, meditate, travel, and paint.


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