CAT vs IPMAT - A comparison

IPMAT is the entrance examination for IIM Indore’s Integrated Program in Management. With IPM’s popularity soaring since its inception in 2011, IPMAT was created in 2016 to address the problem of selecting students. As a result, it’s a relatively new phenomenon when compared to CAT (the exam for entry to the best B-Schools’ postgraduate programs), which has been around for a while.

While there has been a lot of discussion about the differences between the two, this article will illustrate the differences between the two: IPMAT vs CAT.

In spite of the fact that the basic purpose of both exams is the same, namely to test the aptitude of candidates who are applying for the respective programs, there are a few key differences:


According to the number of aspirants, CAT is easily the more popular exam, with close to 2 lakh applicants, while IPMAT has only around 20,000 entrants. When considering the number of seats in top 10 colleges, the intake to appearing ratio for CAT is almost equal.

Number of Sections:

In CAT, there are three sections – Quantitative Ability, Verbal Ability, and Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning – while in IPMAT, there are only two sections – Quantitative Ability and Verbal Ability.

Time allotted & Weightages of sections:

For CAT, three hours are allotted, while for IPMAT, two hours are allotted. There is, however, a significant difference in the sectional split. While CAT allots equal time to each of its three sections, IPMAT allots 75 minutes to the Quantitative Ability section (60 questions), while the Verbal Ability section (40 questions) is given 45 minutes!]

Levels of difficulty

In case of the two common sections, let’s analyze it section by section:

Quantitative Ability –

Since IPMAT contains more word type problems which are time consuming and lengthy, and focuses more on Algebra and Geometry based questions, it is a much more difficult test. CAT has questions of all types (word-based, numbers-dominated, etc.) covering all topics. In both cases, however, question selection is crucial to clearing the sectional & overall cutoffs.

Verbal Ability –

In this case, the CAT is easily the more difficult test. Both exams have many common question types, but CAT Verbal Questions require a deeper understanding of the subject matter. In IPMAT, the questions are more direct and a good amount are from Grammar and Vocabulary, making it less time consuming and easier to score.

The most challenging section of CAT is Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning.

In the last few years, this section has left aspirants exhausted and in tatters with its tough to comprehend questions regarding arrangements, cubes, bar charts, and line graphs.

Out of the two, we would choose CAT since it is more difficult:

  • This is the extra section
  • During the latter part of the exam, there is more time allotted to it, which causes concentration difficulties and fatigue
  • Verbal section is tougher


It may seem like we are comparing apples with oranges, but given that students in Class 12 are closer to Quants and Verbal, which were a part of their core studies until just before the IPMAT exam, we believe that they will be better prepared for Quants and Verbal!

Topics/types of questions that are important:

First, let’s compare the 2 common sections:

In terms of Verbal Ability, both CAT and IPMAT have the following types of questions:

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Summary based questions
  • Para jumbles

However, the ones in CAT are more inference-based, while the ones in IPMAT are more direct.

Moreover, IPMAT’s Verbal Ability section has Grammar and Vocabulary based questions, making it easier to score well.

In terms of Quantitative Ability, IPMAT has more questions from the Algebra and Geometry topics.

The section was tougher in the 2017 edition since there were no arithmetic questions.

The major topics for IPMAT are:

  • Functions
  • Coordinate Geometry
  • Matrices
  • Logarithms
  • Progressions
  • Permutation and Combination
  • Probability
  • Geometry and Mensuration
  • Arrangements
  • Data Comparison

CAT questions are distributed more or less uniformly across different topics. Algebra, Geometry, Arithmetic, and Modern Math are the areas in which questions appear.

Because IPMAT and CAT target totally different audiences, this article just gives you a sense of how the two exams differ empirically. Parents reading this article may be able to help their children understand the differences between the two exams, so you can take a call while keeping other factors in mind.

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