CMA USA vs CAT- Which is tougher?


A few decades ago, there were relatively few alternatives available to commerce students for what to do after earning their Bachelors degrees. The conventional path would have involved enrolling in Chartered Accountant (CA) courses or getting a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Nowadays, people are becoming more aware of the numerous different options provided to them. But then there's the problem of deciding which road to choose. More selections mean more confusion and more time spent pondering which option to select. CMA USA is one such course that challenges conventional thinking and moves toward a more holistic and wider context. It is a strong rival to a traditional MBA program.
The Common Admission Test (CAT) is the most esteemed national-level admission test in India, and it allows applicants to enter the best management colleges. Undoubtedly, it is the biggest MBA entrance test in the nation. 
This blog should help you make an informed choice between CMA USA vs CAT and remove one of the two possibilities.

What is CAT?

The CAT is an aptitude test designed for admission to management courses provided by some of India's leading management colleges. It is one of India's most prestigious and difficult admission tests. This Common Admission Test (CAT) is administered on a rotating basis by the top 6 IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management). Around 2.30 lakh eligible students are enrolled each year for the examinations held in 156 Indian cities. The Common Admission Test (CAT), which is administered by one of the top six IIMs, is the mandatory entrance test for MBA/PGP admission to 20 IIMs and other prominent B-schools such as FMS Delhi, SPJIMR Mumbai, MDI Gurugram, and IITs DMS.

What is CMA USA?

Certified Management Accountant (CMA) is an advanced accounting certification issued by the IMA (Institute of Management Accountants). CMA USA certification is intended for Accountants and Finance Professionals. The certification demonstrates knowledge in Financial Planning, Analysis, Control, Decision Support, and Professional Ethics. It will boost your worth at your present company and help you advance your accounting career. CMA is a relatively new course, but it is making significant progress in adding value to one's rsum and enhancing one's chances of promotion and salary hikes. Candidates with a CMA degree are sought after by multinational corporations.
Now that we know what both courses are about, it will be easier to understand if we go into more depth about CMA USA vs CAT.

CMA USA vs CAT - Exam Pattern

The Common Admission Test (CAT Exam) is a computer-based admission test for graduate management schools (MBA). It is divided into three sections: Verbal ability and reading comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and logical reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Aptitude (QA) (Quant). Due to the pandemic, several recent adjustments have been made to the CAT exam. The CAT exam was historically a three-hour test, but the pandemic changed everything. Prior to 2020, the CAT exam consisted of 100 questions to be completed in three hours.
The CAT test format was altered in 2020, with the number of questions lowered to 76 and the time limit reduced to 2 hours. In 2021, IIM Ahmedabad lowered the number of questions to 66 while keeping the exam duration the same. MCQs and TITA questions are included in the CAT paper format. MCQs account for about 75% of the weightage in the question paper. Each right answer receives three points under the CAT grading methodology. The CAT negative grading of 33.33% is only relevant to the MCQs.
On the other hand, the CMA USA curriculum is divided into two portions, each of which comprises two 30-minute essay questions and 100 multiple-choice questions. According to the CMA USA exam format, you will initially have three hours to finish the multiple-choice segment and one hour to finish the essay assignments. After you have finished the multiple-choice section of the test or after 3 hours, whichever comes first, the essay questions will be revealed to you. You cannot return to the multiple-choice part of the exam once you have completed it. To be qualified for the essay section, you must properly answer at least 50% of the multiple-choice questions.
We should now go into more depth about the eligibility requirements for both exams after comparing the exam formats of CMA USA vs CAT.

Eligibility Criteria - CMA USA vs CAT

There are many qualifications to be eligible for the CAT exam. The eligibility criteria for admission via CAT may vary depending on the Institute. 
  • A graduate from a recognized university with at least 50% overall or the equivalent is required to take the CAT exam.
  • The candidate for the CAT exam must have finished their undergraduate studies.
  • Candidates in their last year of school may also apply.
To obtain CMA USA certification, candidates must meet the institution's specific prerequisites. Those who do not satisfy the prerequisites listed below will not be admitted to the CMA course.
  • Maintain a current IMA membership.
  • Candidates must follow the Statement of Ethical Professional Practice of the IMA.
  • Bachelor's degree or an equivalent degree in a related discipline from a reputable institution
  • Candidates should have at least two years of management accounting or financial management-related job experience. The experience requirements can also be satisfied by working 20 hours each week.

Registration Process - CMA USA vs CAT

You must possess the following documentation before beginning the CAT registration process:
  • Your passport-size photograph
  • NC-OBC/SC/ST certificate
  • PwD/DA certificate
  • Your signature should be in.jpg or.jpeg format and no more than 80 kb.
The following are the procedures you may take to register for CAT-
  • Navigate to the official CAT website and select 'Registration for new users. A window with the instructions will appear. Read the instructions thoroughly.
  • Then, to generate an OTP, provide your name, phone number, email address, and country.
  • Fill in the OTP and then press the 'Validate OTP' button.
  • Click Submit Application Form after entering the Captcha Code.
  • Next, you will receive a Text containing a password and an email with your User ID. You can use this User ID and Password to log in and fill out the CAT application form.
  • Fill in the form & Make the payment.
You can register for the CMA USA Exam if you meet the eligibility prerequisites. You can pay your membership fee by going to the IMA website. After you have obtained membership, you must pay the CMA Entrance Exam Fee. After paying the admission fee, the candidate must wait for IMA to complete their form, after which they will provide you with the authorization. After getting the authorization, the candidate can make a test appointment at a Prometric Testing Center that is convenient for them.
After all the information about CMA USA vs CAT, we should talk about CAT (Certificate in Accounting Technicians ) in CMA, which ICAI administers. 

What is CAT?

To fulfill the high need for entry-level accountants in India, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) has created a short-term Course-Certificate in Accounting Technicians (CAT) for 12th (10+2) pass and Under Graduates. This course was developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India. Students who take the CAT learn how to maintain accounts, prepare tax returns, fill out returns under the Companies Act, fill out returns under the Income Tax, GST, and Customs Act, export and import documents, and so on. Students who have passed/will be taking the 12th (10+2) exams are eligible to enroll in the CAT course.
The Institute offers Coaching Centers all across India. Students who want to pursue the course must apply to their local Regional Council, Chapter, or ROCC. Or, students can register directly with the Institute of Cost Accountants of India CAT Directorate, DELHI Office. The program fee is Rs. 12,660/- Exam and assessment costs will be charged extra.

CAT Course Details

Part 1
Paper 1: Fundamentals of Financial Accounting.
Paper 2: Applied Business and Industrial Laws
Paper 3: Financial Accounting-2
Paper 4: Statutory Compliance
Part 2
  • Computer Fundamentals by Microsoft and Computerized Accounting- Tally ERP 9.0- 35 hours
  • SAP End User Program -25 hours
  • Cambridge -Generic Skills for Employability 20 hours
  • eFiling by experts 20 hours
  • Introduction to Costing Principles & Preparation of Cost Statements- 40 hours
Five-day Orientation Program/ ASK Programme (ASK = Attitude Skill Knowledge)
The Internship will be for 45 days. Internships can be obtained from organizations included in the CAT Course's Internship Scheme.
You must fully comprehend the courses after reading about how the CAT and CMA USA programs differ from one another. There is a huge market opportunity and need for both programs in India. Nevertheless, you may decide between CMA USA vs CAT based on your requirements.


1. Which is better, CMA US or MBA?

CMA USA and MBA are both excellent programs. The choice differs from person to person. The MBA is a formal academic degree, but the US CMA is a recognized professional qualification.
The MBA in Finance covers a significantly wider range of finance modules than the CMA USA, which is focused on management accounting. An MBA is a great option for the applicant who wants to learn more about marketing and finance in general. But the US CMA is a fantastic alternative if the applicant wants to acquire the knowledge and practical abilities in management accounting.

2. What is the US CMA salary in India?

In India, the annual salary of a CMA USA professional is between Rs. 7-9 lakhs. An experienced US CMA in India makes between Rs. 15 and 21 lakhs, whereas an entry-level CMA makes between Rs. 5 and 6 lakhs. The rise in responsibilities in work duties is what has caused pay to rise. Salary increases are made when a person accumulates experience.
When working for one of the Big 4 organizations or other US MNCs like Amazon, Deloitte, Capgemini, PWC, EY, Microsoft, and others, an experienced professional with a US CMA earns an average salary of 15 to 60 lakhs per year in India.

3. Is US CMA a good career option?

CMA USA adds a lot of value to your profile. CMA USA is a wonderful job to undertake. It is a program run by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) that allows Indian accounting professionals with the CMA USA to earn greater compensation than non-CMAs. CMAs earn 58% more in total remuneration than non-CMAs across all nations.
You can also rise to higher-paying positions as an accountant as you gain expertise. CMAs (Certified Management Accountants) are in high demand in industries such as banking and finance, government, and the private sector. CMAs are also required in some large organizations for management positions such as financial controllers, cost auditors, chief financial controllers, and many other high-level positions.

4. What is the US CMA course duration?

The full US CMA course must be finished in at least six months. To be eligible for the CMA certification, applicants must have two years of relevant professional experience. The US CMA course can be finished by the student in a total of 3 years.

5. What are the CAT papers for the entrance exam?

The CAT Exam is a computer-based test (CBT) with a time limit of 120 minutes. The online CAT exam has 66 questions divided into three paper segments, which are as follows:
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)
Quantitative Aptitude (QA)
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)

6. Is CMA a professional course?

The US Certified Management Accountant (CMA) is a professional certification in the domains of management accounting and financial management. The certification indicates that the individual has an understanding of Financial Planning, Analysis, Control, Decision Support, and Professional Ethics.

7. Are CAT and CMA the same?

The ICAI CAT course is for accounting technicians. ICAI's CMA course focuses on Cost and Management Accounting. The CAT is for entry-level accounting positions. If a candidate has advanced to the ICAI final, he is already ahead of CAT-certified applicants. If you are looking for accounting education, CMA is one of the finest; it increases your accounting and management abilities while also providing several employment chances. If you go through the details about CMA USA vs CAT in this article, you will be able to understand both courses.

8. Can I do CAT after CMA?

Yes! You can pursue the MBA by clearing the CAT after the CMA USA. The CAT is for entry-level accounting positions. If a candidate has advanced to the CMA USA certification, he is already ahead of CAT-certified applicants. However, some employers also value MBA with CMA USA, which makes it possible to get both.

9. Which is better, CMA or IIM?

IIM is a top Indian institute for learning management and provides you with a professional academic degree. CMA USA is a prestigious course in management and accounting. Even though both are desirable career goals in the accounting sector, gaining your CMA certification is usually faster than finishing management from IIM. Candidates with any degree are in great demand. It would be prudent to select one of the two; choosing between CMA USA vs CAT totally depends on you and what best meets your demands.


Both the CAT exam for MBA and CMA USA programs are great and, more importantly, relevant in today's society. Candidates with expertise in any of these fields are in great demand. It would be wise to choose one of the two, CMA USA vs CAT, but which one ultimately relies on you, and what best satisfies your needs?
You can enroll in the CMA USA course if you want to complete an internationally renowned finance and management accounting course in a shorter amount of time. Join Northstar Academy (NSA), and you are guaranteed to pass the Comprehensive CMA program at NorthStar Academy in one sitting. To help you prepare for the CMA (USA) exam, NSA provides specialized US CMA study resources that are well-organized and updated yearly as per the latest pattern. NSA has some of India's best faculty in the field, such as M. Irfat Sir, to help students find the right career path. You are guaranteed to pass the Comprehensive CMA program at NorthStar Academy in one sitting.
To find out more about these courses and get the best guidance possible, call us at +918147470707.
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