CAT vs UPSC: Which Exam is Right for You ?

CAT vs UPSC: The CAT (Common Admission Test) and UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) exams hold significant importance in India, catering to diverse career aspirations. Each exam serves distinct purposes, targeting specific career paths and evaluating different skill sets.

Cat vs UPSC

CAT primarily focuses on admission into esteemed management programs, notably the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs). It assesses candidates’ proficiency in areas such as quantitative ability, verbal ability, data interpretation, and logical reasoning. Conversely, UPSC aims to recruit individuals for prestigious civil service positions like the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), and Indian Foreign Service (IFS), among others.

In terms of format, CAT typically employs multiple-choice questions and computer-based testing. In contrast, the UPSC exam follows a multifaceted selection process, comprising the Preliminary Exam, Main Exam, and Personality Test. Eligibility criteria for CAT revolve around possessing a bachelor’s degree with specified minimum percentage requirements. On the other hand, UPSC necessitates candidates to meet specific age limits, educational qualifications, and nationality prerequisites.

Successful completion of CAT opens doors to lucrative opportunities in the corporate sector, including roles in management consulting, finance, marketing, and operations. Conversely, clearing the UPSC exam offers prestigious positions in civil services, providing avenues to serve the nation and contribute to policymaking, governance, and public administration.

CAT: Common Admission Test

The CAT (Common Admission Test) Exam stands as the foremost MBA entrance exam in India, granting access to esteemed institutions like the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and other premier MBA colleges nationwide. It is a national-level computer-based test designed to gauge candidates’ aptitude and preparedness for undertaking management studies.

Comprising three sections, namely Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Aptitude (QA), the CAT exam assesses various aspects of candidates’ skills pertinent to the management domain. VARC evaluates proficiency in English language comprehension and usage, while DILR tests the ability to interpret data and solve logical reasoning problems. QA focuses on assessing mathematical and quantitative reasoning abilities.

A notable aspect of the CAT exam is its incorporation of both Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) and Non-MCQs (also known as TITA or Type in the Answer) questions. This diverse format offers candidates a range of question types, challenging them to think critically and apply problem-solving techniques effectively.

In essence, the CAT exam serves as a comprehensive evaluation of candidates’ readiness for pursuing postgraduate management education. Success in this exam opens avenues for further academic and professional advancement in the dynamic field of business and management.

Exam NameCAT 2023
CAT Full-FormCommon Admission Test
CAT Official
Exam Conducting BodyOne of the IIMs on a rotational basis; CAT 2023 will be conducted by IIM Lucknow
Exam TypeNational Level, MBA Entrance Exam
Exam FrequencyOnce a year
Exam ModeOnline

UPSC: Union Public Service Commission

The UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) Exam is widely acknowledged as one of the most demanding and competitive tests in India. It consists of three stages: Prelims, Mains, and Interview, and serves as the pathway to prestigious civil services positions like the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Revenue Service (IRS), and various other Group A and B services under the Central Government.

Every year, around 10-12 lakh candidates apply for the UPSC Exam after the release of the UPSC Notification, leading to intense competition. Only about 6-8 lakh aspirants qualify for the Preliminary exam, and from there, a much smaller number, approximately 15-17 thousand, proceed to the Mains exam. Finally, only a fraction of these candidates, typically 1500-2000, advance to the final interview round. The selection process is renowned for its rigor and high standards.

The UPSC exam syllabus is extensive, encompassing a broad array of subjects including History, Polity, Geography, Economy, Environment & Ecology, Science, and Technology. Additionally, candidates must stay updated on Current Affairs and have a solid grounding in Static General Knowledge to perform well in the examination. Overall, the UPSC exam necessitates not only thorough knowledge but also sharp analytical skills and the ability to handle pressure, making it one of the most challenging exams in the country.

Sure, here’s the table:

Exam NameUPSC CSE/UPSC Civil Services Examination/IAS Exam
UPSC full formUnion Public Service Commission
Conducting BodyUPSC – Union Public Service Commission
Official Website
Exam LevelNational Level,
Exam FrequencyOnce a year
Exam ModeOffline
Exam TypePen-Paper; OMR sheet

CAT Exam VS UPSC Exam – Eligibility Criteria

AspectCAT ExamUPSC Exam
Educational QualificationBachelor’s degree in any discipline from a recognized university or equivalent.Bachelor’s degree in any discipline from a recognized university or equivalent.
Minimum MarksGenerally, a minimum of 50-55% aggregate or equivalent, is required in the bachelor’s degree.No specific minimum marks requirement, but candidates must pass their qualifying exam.
Final Year StudentsFinal year students can also apply, provided they complete their degree requirements by the specified deadline.Final year students can also apply, provided they complete their degree requirements before the interview stage.
Age LimitNo age limit for appearing in the CAT.Age limits vary based on the category: General Category: 32 years, OBC: 35 years, SC/ST: 37 years, PwD: 42 years
Number of AttemptsNo restriction on the number of attempts; candidates can appear for CAT multiple times.General Category: 6 attempts, OBC: 9 attempts, SC/ST: Unlimited attempts, PwD: Up to age limits

CAT vs UPSC: Which Exam is Better?

AspectIIMCivil Services
Social Reputation and PerceptionGraduates fetch corporate jobs, often work abroadWork within the country, highly respected in Indian society
Financial Capability of the StudentHigh course fees, may require loansNegligible course fees, accessible to most individuals
Remuneration of PersonsHigh earning potential, luxurious lifestyleGood salary, starting from around 56,100 INR + allowances
Job ExpectationBusiness-oriented, profit-drivenService-oriented, respect and societal impact

CAT vs UPSC Comparison

  1. Social Reputation and Perception: Graduates from IIMs are highly regarded in the corporate world, often securing lucrative jobs and international opportunities. However, civil servants, particularly those in high-ranking positions, command respect and authority within Indian society, even in remote villages.
  2. Financial Capability of the Student: Pursuing an MBA from IIMs can be financially burdensome due to high course fees, potentially deterring students from rural backgrounds. In contrast, the cost of appearing for the UPSC exam is minimal, making it accessible to a broader range of individuals.
  3. Remuneration of Persons: IIM graduates have the potential to earn significant salaries and lead luxurious lifestyles, especially if they pursue entrepreneurship. On the other hand, civil servants receive respectable salaries, starting from a base amount, but are valued for their service to the nation.
  4. Job Expectation: IIM graduates typically seek careers in the corporate sector, driven by profit and innovation. In contrast, civil servants are tasked with serving the public, implementing reforms, and making administrative decisions that impact society at large.

Ultimately, the choice between pursuing an MBA from IIMs or appearing for the UPSC exam depends on individual aspirations, financial considerations, and career goals. It is crucial for aspirants to introspect and determine their motivations, as this will guide them in making informed decisions about their future paths.

CAT vs UPSC: Which Exam is Toughest?

The UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) examination stands out as one of the most challenging and competitive exams in India, attracting a vast number of aspirants every year. Its reputation for toughness stems from the arduous selection process it entails, which includes three stages: Preliminary, Mains, and Interview. Each stage serves as a formidable barrier, with only a fraction of candidates successfully navigating through to the final round.

The scale of participation in the UPSC exam is immense, with around 10-12 lakh candidates applying online annually after the release of the UPSC notification. However, the journey to success is daunting, as only a fraction of these applicants ultimately make it through the rigorous selection process. From the initial pool, approximately 6-8 lakh aspirants sit for the Preliminary exam, marking the first step in the grueling journey. However, the transition from Prelims to Mains further filters the candidates, with only 15-17 thousand advancing to the Mains exam. Finally, a mere 1500-2000 candidates successfully navigate the interview round, sealing their fate in the final selection process.

The pass percentage for the UPSC exam is remarkably low, typically ranging between 0.1% to 0.5% of the total candidates who appear for the exam. This statistic underscores the exam’s formidable nature and the stringent criteria applicants must meet to secure success.

In contrast, while the CAT (Common Admission Test) exam is highly regarded in the realm of MBA entrance examinations, it is perceived as relatively less competitive than the UPSC exam. CAT serves as the gateway to premier management institutes such as the IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management), attracting a significant number of candidates seeking admission to these prestigious institutions.

The success rate for CAT candidates is notably higher compared to the UPSC exam, with nearly 2% of participants securing admission to their desired MBA programs. While CAT demands rigorous preparation and a high level of aptitude, its selection process is not as grueling or selective as that of the UPSC exam.

Overall, both the UPSC and CAT exams pose significant challenges and require dedicated preparation. However, the UPSC exam is widely acknowledged as the toughest due to its stringent selection process, low pass percentage, and intense competition among aspirants.

Frequently Asked Question

No, the syllabus for CAT and UPSC exams differs significantly.

Yes, you can give the CAT exam after attempting the UPSC exam.

The salary of a CAT aspirant can vary widely depending on factors such as their job role, the company they work for, and their level of experience.

The suitability of CAT or UPSC depends on individual career goals and preferences. Both exams lead to distinct career paths, with CAT focusing on management education and UPSC leading to civil services.

The difficulty level of CAT and UPSC exams varies based on individual strengths and preferences. Some may find CAT easier due to its focus on management concepts, while others may find UPSC easier if they have a strong understanding of the subjects covered in the civil services syllabus.

Around 3 lakh students attempt the CAT exam annually.

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