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NMAT 2012 vs CAT 2011: A comparative analysis

Last updated on: November 2, 2011 15:46 IST

NMAT 2012 vs CAT 2011: A comparative analysis



Are you planning to appear for NMAT this year? The Narsee Monjee Aptitude Test conducted by Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai for admission to its MBA programmes began on October 31, 2011. Here's a first hand account of the NMAT 2012 exam.

The Narsee Monjee Aptitude Test conducted by Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai tests a candidate's ability in four areas --- namely Quantitative Analysis, Data Interpretation, Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning.

The NMAT exam commenced October 31, 2011 and the last date will be January 06, 2012.

The exam will qualify the candidate's admission to various post graduate management programmes at the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies. These programmes include MBA Core, MBA (Pharmaceuticals Management), MBA (Actuarial science), MBA (Capital Markets), MBA (Banking), MBA (Part - Time) and Ph.D Program in Management, EPGDBM Courses.

An expert from who took the NMAT exam on November 01, 2011 shares his experience and does an interesting comparative analysis with the Common Admission Test 2011. Read on.

Having appeared for CAT and NMAT in the space of 8 days, one intuitively starts comparing the two exams, their exam players, the experience etc while appearing for the test and even hours after the test.

I appeared for CAT on October 24, 2011 and for NMAT on November 1, 2011 in the 9:00 a.m. slot.

Since I cannot disclose the NMAT pattern or questions due to the Non Disclosure Agreement, I will try and make my analysis more meaningful by giving you a comparative analysis of CAT and NMAT in terms of interface and experience so that you can plan for each exam better!

However, please note that some of my views here under "Recommendations" are purely personal and you may have to apply them in your exam keeping your preparation level in mind.


CAT 2011 vs NMAT 2011

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CAT 2011

NMAT 2012


Check-in Process

Admit Card Mail + 1 Valid ID card needed

Biometrics includes photograph and fingerprint

Bags and valuables not allowed in the test lab. Only a wallet allowed.

Confirmation Mail + 2 Valid ID cards needed

Biometrics includes photograph and signature on a digital pad

Bags and valuables not allowed in the test lab.

Where I had suggested carrying 2 ID cards for CAT, I would recommend carrying 3 for NMAT. It helps to have an extra ID

Try to carry an ID that shows you face AND sign clearly. The NMAT authorities check these on biometrics vs ID card

Carry only as much stuff as you really need


1 minute – after the tutorial and just before the test

2 minutes – before the tutorial and test

Both the non-disclosure agreements more or less say the same thing. Make it a point to read them quickly and accept them at the earliest


15 minutes

10 minutes

Both the tutorials give you an overview of the screens and features that you will encounter during the exam. An added advantage of the NMAT tutorial is that at the end of the tutorial, you can try the functionalities of the review screen using the slides of the tutorial. Since time saved in the tutorial does not get added to the exam, utilize this time to go through the tutorials well

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CAT 2011 vs NMAT 2012

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Section Order and Selection

For CAT, 2 sections with no choice in selection. 

For NMAT, 3 sections with a choice in selecting section order

There is a separate screen that allows you to pre-determine the order in which you will attempt all 3 sections.

The screen gives you 6 combinations of section orders and you have click on the one that suits you the best.

If you do not select the section order within 3 minutes, the system automatically starts the test using the first section order given.

NMAT has been more student-friendly in the sense that it has allowed the student to decide first-hand what order he/she wants to attempt the sections in.

There is a section order screen which has a time limit of 3 minutes. This screen gives you 6 combinations: VA-QA-LR, QA-LR-VA, VA-LR-QA etc. You can select any combination that you want. The sections will be displayed as per your selection

If you do not select within 3 minutes, the system selects the default option i.e. VA-QA-LR

Also, once you select the section and start the test, you cannot change the order midway. So, if you select VQ-QA-LR and during VA, you feel you want to attempt LR second, it will not be possible.

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CAT 2011 vs NMAT 2012

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In CAT, Section 1 – QA + DI – 30 questions – 70 minutes

Section 2 – VA + LR – 30 questions – 70 minutes

In NMAT, QA – 48 questions – 60 minutes

VA – 32 questions – 22 minutes

LR – 40 questions – 38 minutes

Unlike CAT, since you know the structure in terms of subject area beforehand because of the breakup given by the NMAT authorities, you can plan and prepare accordingly. In CAT, you won't know how much time to spend on DI and how much on QA

Negative Marking

Yes, but undisclosed


CAT clearly wants a focus on accuracy and attempts based on whether you are confident of what you know.

NMAT obviously wants you to attempt all questions) like MHCET) because of the no-negative marking policy.

For questions where you are not sure in NMAT, "flag" the question and in the last 2-3 minutes, randomly mark those questions. Don't waste time on those questions initially.

Termination of Section

Not allowed before the scheduled time lapses

Lapse of schedule time

Completion of questions

Unlike CAT, if you finish your section slightly earlier than allowed, you CAN end that section and move to the next section.

However, your time saved in this section does not get added to the subsequent section.

So, in case you save time on, say, Verbal Ability, it is a better idea to review your questions. You will anyways lose the spare time by ending.

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CAT 2011 vs NMAT 2012

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In CAT, no breaks allowed 30 minutes prior to and during the exam

In NMAT, breaks are allowed but they are timed. Any time that you use in the break gets deducted from that section

For CAT, it makes sense to take your water and toilet breaks well in advance.

For NMAT, the Pearson authorities were slightly more lenient and let people take water and toilet breaks even 10-15 minutes before the exam. However, it may not be wise to take a chance.

In NMAT, if you manage to end section 1 or section 2 with more than 5 minutes to spare (unlikely), you could use it to take a break.

Group Questions

Number of questions in the set declared beforehand

All questions seen one below the other on the right hand side of the screen

Number of questions in the set NOT declared beforehand

Each question seen on a fresh page

As is evident, CAT scores more than NMAT in this regard. In NMAT, when you start a group question, you don't know how many questions that set has. This makes "attempt planning" virtually impossible.

For each question, you need to use the "Next" and "Previous" buttons. This harms you if the latter questions of a set are easier or multiple questions are related to each other e.g. if calculating data for question 1 can help solve question 4 as well.

In CAT, since you can see all questions together, you can decide whether you want to attempt all the questions or some or skip the set altogether.

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CAT 2011 vs NMAT 2012

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Highlighting in RCs

Allowed in CAT

Not allowed in NMAT

Since highlighting is not allowed in the NMAT RCs, finding relevant data may become slightly more difficult. You may need to practice NMAT RCs accordingly.

Section End Warnings

5 minutes before the end of each section and 1 minute before the end of each section

5 minutes before the end of each section

Since NMAT gives only one warning i.e. 5 minutes before the section is scheduled to end, you will have to keep a tab of when approximately 2 minutes are left. This will help in marking the questions you haven't attempted

Difficulty Level

Challenging compared to last year

Simpler compared to last year

I found CAT 2011 more challenging compared to last year with a better quality of questions

I felt NMAT 2012 was simpler compared to my NMAT exam last year but was on the lines that I expected


21 in section I with approximately 17-18 correct (I assume)

30 in section II with approximately 27 correct (Again. Assumption)

51 in all

48 out of 48 in QA

36 out of 40 in LR

32 out of 32 in VA

116 out of 120 in all

For CAT, I would suggest anywhere between 17-19 attempts with 15+ correct in section I and 23 -24 attempts in section II with 20+ correct

For NMAT, try to attempt all 120 questions

Please note that the last two points above (in BLUE) depict my personal performance and opinions and as such, should not be taken very rigidly. Please look at your actual exam and then take a decision. You can use these as a guideline.

Wish you all the very best!

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