Top Entrance Exams for MBA: [Alternative of CAT]

Top Entrance Exams for MBA: [Alternative of CAT]

Top Entrance Exams for MBA: [Alternative of CAT],Mar 06, 2024

Online MBA Programs

Mar 06, 2024


For generations, India's top business schools have used the Common Admission Test (CAT) as the primary gateway for admission into premium Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs. However, over the years, a range of other national and state-level entrance exams have emerged to expand access and meet the growing demand for MBA programs among aspirants. Alternative gateways to MBA provide different pros and cons compared to CAT across dimensions like syllabus, question patterns, difficulty level, acceptance, and more. For MBA aspirants, having a wide list of entrance exam attempts can increase the chances of scoring well and gaining admission into the desired university or institution. Understanding the landscape of options beyond just CAT is invaluable. Some exams feed into specialized programs in sectors like banking, logistics, or supply chain management, while others target executive education. Upgrading individual strengths to the right exam combination is key. This comprehensive guide analyzes the top alternatives to CAT in India today beyond just the XAT, SNAP, IIFT, and other prominent exams. It serves as a decision-making tool for MBA applicants to make strategic choices that align with personal academic objectives and maximize admission potential.

Also Read: Online/ Distance MBA vs Online/Distance PGDM: Which is Better for Growing Future?

What is an MBA?

An MBA is a master's degree program that specializes in Business and Administration enabling candidates to up skills their managerial skillset which helps businesses to grow. Individuals who are seeking an MBA program can enroll in the same if they have completed their undergraduate degree program in any discipline from any recognized university with a minimum aggregate percentage of at least 50% to 60% marks. The duration of an MBA degree is 2 years. There are several specializations in an MBA program that one can choose from including HR management, IT, FinTech, Marketing, Sales, Data Analytics, and more.

Post-COVID-19 several trailblazing universities in India have started offering MBA programs in different specializations through online and distance modes of education which have been granted approvals by several regulatory bodies such as AICTE, DEB, and UGC making the online/ distance MBA courses validate and authentic globally,

What is CAT?

CAT is an abbreviation for the Common Admission Test, which is a national-level management entrance exam conducted in India by one of the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) every year for admission into postgraduate and fellow programs offered at top-notch Business schools and Management institutes in India. CAT scores act as a gateway for aspirants to secure their seats in over 1000 Business Schools across the country including the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) as well as other premier institutes like MDI Gurgaon, SPJIMR Mumbai, IITs, IMI New Delhi, and several others. The CAT exam is conducted every year by one of the older IIMs on a rotational basis on behalf of the consortium under the aegis of the convenor, IIM Rohtak. 
In India, the CAT is considered one of the most competitive entrance exams as over 205 lakh aspirants try their luck in the CAT. The selection rate of different IIMs through CAT scores falls in the range of 1-2 candidates selected for every 100-200 candidates who apply after shortlisting based on eligibility criteria of graduation scores, essays, and work experience.

What is XAT?

XAT stands for Xavier Aptitude Test and is one of the most popular MBA entrance exams after CAT. It is conducted annually by XLRI Jamshedpur to screen candidates for admission into management programs offered by XLRI and over 150 other participating business schools in India. Started in 1983, XAT is the oldest management entrance test after CAT and is highly regarded especially for admissions into HR and marketing courses. While broadly modeled on CAT, XAT has its unique exam pattern and syllabus. It is typically considered a little easier than CAT, with more focus on decision-making, logical reasoning, and analytical abilities rather than just quantitative aptitude, data interpretation, and verbal ability. XAT also includes an essay writing component. Over 100,000 candidates appear for the XAT exam annually competing for around 3,500 seats. Besides XLRI, premier institutes accepting XAT scores include SP Jain Institute of Management & Research, IMT Ghaziabad, TAPMI Manipal, and Great Lakes Institute of Management Gurgaon among others.

What is SNAP?

SNAP, which stands for Symbiosis National Aptitude Test, is a common written entrance exam conducted by the Symbiosis International University for admission into MBA and other post-graduate management programs across all popular specializations on offer by institutes under the Symbiosis banner such as the S P Mandali's Institute of Management, SCMHRD, etc. First introduced in 2004 as a prelude to the government scrapping the in-house tests conducted by the institutes, the computer-based test comprises questions from four sections - general English, quantitative, logical reasoning, and current affairs. With over 4 lakh candidates appearing for SNAP annually, it is the most competitive exam after CAT with a selection rate of just 1%. The scores are accepted by 16 premier Symbiosis institutes with nearly 3000 seats between them as well as 150+ other business schools like Welingkar, and SDA Bocconi. A key advantage of SNAP is the multiple attempt opportunities with tests held in December and Jan instead of being just a one-day exam like CAT.

Also Read: All about JS University Shikohabad- Course, Fee, Placement, And all

What is IIFT?

IIFT stands for Indian Institute of Foreign Trade. IIFT is an autonomous public business school set up in 1963 by the Government of India to help professionalize the country’s foreign trade management and increase exports by developing human resources and generating research. The Institute conducts the entrance exam ‘IIFT Exam’ every year for admission to its MBA International Business course across campuses in New Delhi, Kolkata and Kakinada. This highly competitive exam tests quantitative skills, logical reasoning, data interpretation, general awareness, and English proficiency aptitudes key to international business management. Over 50,000 candidates appear for IIFT every year competing for around 700 seats. Besides the flagship MBA-IB degree, IIFT also offers an MBA in international business with niche specializations in trade in specific emerging markets through ten sectoral electives. Companies across manufacturing, consulting, and financial services actively recruit graduates. Along with a focus on global business, participating in exchange programs abroad and a diverse peer network differentiate the IIFT MBA experience.

Direct Admission Without CAT: Eligibility Criteria

Candidates who are seeking admission to an MBA program but fail the CAT exam can get direct admission to their desired MBA program. However, they must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Aspirants should have completed an undergraduate degree from a recognized university.
  • At least 50% of aggregate marks are prerequisites for a bachelor’s degree.
  • Bachelor’s degree should be from a recognized university.
  • Some MBA programs might require working professionals to submit their work experience.
  • Working professionals might be asked to surrender their letters of recommendation during the admission process.

MBA without CAT:  Key Features

  • Exams like IIFT and SNAP offer entry to specific MBA programs like International Business, Supply Chain, and HR rather than general management.
  • Tests like CMAT have easier exam patterns without complex quantitative questions and more objective-type questions.  
  • SNAP stands out with multiple test attempt opportunities in December and January.
  • Exams like XAT and NMAT test decision-making abilities, and logical reasoning beyond quantitative skills.
  • Alternative exams open doors to niche institutes like SIBM, Great Lakes, and Welingkar along with the IIMs and top colleges accepting CAT.

The Common Admission Test (CAT) remains the most prestigious and toughest exam, alternatives provide flexibility in types of programs, simpler formats to attempt, multiple test dates, and specialized focus areas catering to different student strengths and interests. Students have the advantage of wider choice and backup options based on exam performance.

Universities Offering MBA without CAT

  • Amity University Online
  • Xavier School of Business, Bhubaneshwar
  • NMIMS School of Business Management
  • IMT, Ghaziabad
  • BITS, Pilani 
  • LPU Online
  • Chandigarh University Online
  • Manav Rachna University Online
  • SGVU Online
  • JBIMS, Mumbai
  • Tata Institute of Management
  • XLRI, Jamshedpur
  • SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, and More.

Specializations in Online MBA

MBA in Marketing ManagementMBA in Operations Management
MBA in HR ManagementMBA in IT Management
MBA in Business AnalyticsMBA in International Business Management
MBA in Logistics and Supply Chain ManagementMBA in Data Science
MBA in Finance and Marketing (Dual)MBA in Data Science and Analytics (Dual)
MBA in Healthcare ManagementMBA in Marketing & HR Management
MBA in Project ManagementMBA in Retail Management
MBA in Banking & Finance ManagementMBA in Digital Marketing
MBA in Entrepreneurship and Leadership (Dual)MBA in Digital Marketing and Ecommerce
MBA in Financial Markets ManagementMBA in Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI)
MBA in Fintech ManagementMBA in Hospital & Healthcare Management
MBA in Oil and gas ManagementMBA in Agri Business Management
MBA in Hospitality ManagementMBA in Hospital Administration
MBA in Banking and InsuranceMBA in Human Resource Management and 
Finance Management (Dual)
MBA in Production and Operation ManagementMBA in Finance Management


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Frequently Asked Queries

A1. Some of the most popular CAT alternative exams are XAT by XLRI, SNAP by Symbiosis, NMAT by GMAC, IIFT by IIFT, CMAT, MAT, and ATMA among others. These tests open doors to premier MBA universities/ institutes beyond just the IIMs.

A2. Compared to CAT, XAT focuses more on assessing decision-making skills and logical reasoning aptitude than quantitative ability and data interpretation. The test format and syllabus are modeled on CAT but considered slightly easier.

A3. A key differentiation of SNAP is that it offers multiple test attempt opportunities in December and January while CAT happens only on one day. This provides more preparation flexibility.

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