What is PGDBA and how it is different from CAT?

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020


What is PGDBA and how it is different from CAT

The Economist published a report in 2017 titled: The world's most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data. In today's digitally transformed and connected world, data is produced in vast streams daily, at a mind-boggling volume and pace. Be it the use of data by Cambridge Analytica in the Trump campaign or be it the personalized recommendations that your YouTube gives you, data is used extensively by companies to make decisions of any and every sort. Understanding this dire need of Business Analytics professionals, three of the best institutes of our country (ISI Kolkata, IIM Calcutta, and IIT Kharagpur) joined hands in 2015 to start a course called PGDBA which stands for Post Graduate Diploma in Business Analytics. The subjects taught in the course take very well care of the three pillars of business analytics – stats, computing, and the business, and help you take the next steps in the vast world of analytics.

The course is designed wonderfully. During the pre-semester in IIM Calcutta, you get introduced to some of the important management subjects including Finance, Marketing, Operations, etc. as well as to the application and scope of Analytics. The first semester in ISI introduces you to the stats heavy subjects ranging from Statistical Structures in Data and Inference to coding intensive subjects like Computation in Data Science and DBMS. The second semester in IIT Kharagpur introduces you to subjects like Linear Algebra, Time Series, Machine Learning, Supply Chain Analytics, etc. as well as hands-on experience in the labs which helps you gain the knowledge to solve the data aspect of the business problems. The business aspect is what is being taught in the third semester in IIM Calcutta through subjects like Computational Finance, Marketing Management, Project Management, etc. as well as through the analytics specific subjects like Predictive Modelling, Categorical Data Analysis, etc.

5 Mock Tests for PGDBA

a) The mock tests are in the latest pattern
b) They include questions in the same ratio as the actual paper
c) They include questions on advance math topics
d) All questions come with answers and detailed explanations


In this blog post, I will discuss what makes PGDBA different from other management courses in India. I will also discuss the similarities and differences in the exam pattern of the PGDBA exam in comparison to CAT. Let's first deep dive into the exam patterns for both these exams.

  • While CAT is an online exam, PGDBA is an offline exam, though the duration of both the exams is 3 hours
  • Both the exams carry the +3 and -1 marking scheme. +3 if you get the question right, -1 if you get it wrong and 0 if you don't attempt the question
  • All the questions in the PGDBA exam are Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) unlike CAT in which some of the questions are Non-MCQs
  • While in CAT the time assigned for each section is fixed (one hour for Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC) section, one hour for Logical Reasoning (LR) & Data Interpretation (DI) section and one hour for Quantitative Ability (QA) section), in PGDBA exam, since it is offline, you can manage the time as per your convenience
  • You cannot switch between the sections in CAT while you surely can do that in the PGDBA exam
  • The total number of questions in CAT is 100 (34 questions in VARC section, 32 in LRDI section and 34 in QA section) while the total number of questions in PGDBA exam is 50 (15 questions in VARC section, 10 questions in LRDI section (5 questions of LR and 5 of DI) and 25 questions in Quantitative Aptitude section. So, for CAT the Time/Question is 108 seconds, while you have 216 seconds on average to solve a question in the PGDBA So, time should not be a problem in the PGDBA exam and the clarity of your concepts is the key.
  • The section that differentiates PGDBA from other management exams is the Quantitative Aptitude section. This is the trickiest and the most important section for a couple of reasons. One because you would get questions which you would have solved in your class 11 and 12 (From topics like Sets, Algebra, Euclidean Geometry, Coordinate geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus, Matrices and Determinants, Permutations & Combinations, Probability, etc.). The second reason is because this section has 50% weightage in the entire exam. So, flunking this section results in your elimination from the race to join the
Download PGDBA Previous Year Examination Papers 2018-2019


YesNoAlready Enrolled

Now that we know the similarities and the differences between both the exams, let us now talk about the other important aspect- how PGDBA is different from any other general management course. First and foremost, PGDBA IS NOT MBA. A lot of people have this misconception that this course is equivalent to a general management course. No, it is definitely not. You learn hardcore statistics, machine learning techniques and their contemporary business applications in this course, which you do not learn as a part of a general management course. The two courses also have a very clear distinction in terms of the number of students and diversity, course content, academic rigor, internship duration and job opportunities after your course completion.

  • The number of students and diversity: While an IIM holds up to 400 students, the number of students enrolled in a PGDBA batch is around 60. Since PGDBA has an eligibility criterion of 10+2+4 years or 10+2+5 years, most of the students enrolled are
  • Course content: PGDBA course content is inclined towards statistics, machine learning, algorithms, coding, followed by the application of techniques in different areas of management. Along with the course-specific subjects like Computation for Data Science, DBMS, Linear Algebra, Time Series, etc., you would be studying management subjects like finance, marketing, operations, but from the analytics perspective.
  • Academic Rigor: The rigor at PGDBA varies from campus to campus since students spend time in three different campuses and each of the campuses has its own way of functioning. In my humble opinion, I believe the PGDBA course is rigorous than the general management course for one simple reason – internship placements happen in the last semester in PGDBA So, you have to be on your toes during the entirety of the course.
  • Internship duration: While MBA colleges have 2 months of internship in the first year, PGDBA course has 6 months of internship in the last semester. This is the highlight of the course since this internship gives students exposure to real time projects, helping them to transform into the analytics
  • Job opportunities: The jobs that are offered after the successful completion of the PGDBA course range from Program Manager to Business Analyst to Data Scientist. So, you can get a role on the business side as well on the technical side depending on your preferences/strengths.

With the increase in computing power, the data is being produced at a whopping rate. To give you a perspective, every day 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is being generated. Oh, by the way a quintillion is 10^18. Let's wait for a second and digest this fact. 25*10^17 bytes of data are being generated EVERY SINGLE DAY! Every minute 46,740 images are uploaded on Instagram; 41,46,600 videos are viewed on YouTube every single minute. This enormous production of data provides companies with the huge opportunity to make data-driven decisions. Large investments are being made in data analytics to make better business decisions from the past data. This past data is being generated by different sources such as business-people, marketing, education, engineering, medicine, social media, on-line transactions, call centres, sensors, web logs and telecommunications.

Understanding this need, I believe this is an exciting time to enter this field. So, for anyone who is looking to do a business analytics course in India, I think PGDBA is a good option to consider. The course curriculum is designed in a way to help you boost your career not only in data sciences but can also help you become a liaison between technology and business teams. This is the need of the hour and companies do realise this – which is the main reason this course has gotten such traction in such a brief time.

5 Mock Tests for PGDBA

a) The mock tests are in the latest pattern
b) They include questions in the same ratio as the actual paper
c) They include questions on advance math topics
d) All questions come with answers and detailed explanations


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