Standardized tests such as the GRE and the GMAT have been a critical part of the admissions process for hundreds of programs across the world. Naturally, each program prefers a certain standardized test for their own admissions processes. The GRE is typically used for the admissions processes of various master’s programs and graduate programs. On the other hand, the GMAT is used for the admissions processes of management and business programs at B-Schools.
Conventional knowledge held among test prep providers and students is that one should take the GMAT if their goal is to pursue an MBA. However, in recent times, GRE scores have also been accepted by plenty of business schools, because university selectors and admissions officers wanted to diversify their applicant pools by welcoming students from various streams.
Note: The GMAT is used only for business programs. If you wish to do anything outside of this sphere, then you should take the GRE or other relevant standardized tests.
So, given that b-schools accept both GRE and GMAT scores, the question remains – Which one should you take? In this article, we are going to answer this question by providing a concise comparison and analysis of the various facets of both the GMAT and the GRE, so that you can choose the exam that is the right fit for you.
Quick general consensus: When it comes to the GMAT vs GRE for an MBA, go for the GMAT. To know more about which business schools accept the GRE, head on to this link. You can check the same for the GMAT, here, although the information may be redundant. Almost every b-school accepts the GMAT!
GMAT vs GRE: What are the key differences?
We’ve put together a master table that will provide you with a bird’s eye view of the main differences between the GMAT and the GRE.
|What is this test for?||The GMAT is used for the admissions processes of management and business programs at B-Schools.||The GRE is typically used for the admissions processes of various master’s programs and graduate programs.|
|How many b-schools accept this test?||As the primary standardized test accepted by most b-schools, the GMAT is used in the admissions processes of 7000+ management programs at more than 2000 universities in the world.||The GRE is accepted by over 1300 universities and educational institutions for business programs. This number is growing year by year.|
|Test Format||Computer-adaptive test.||Computer-adaptive test. Paper-based format is only available in countries without adequate and optimal computer facilities.|
|What is the cost of taking the exam?||$250 which is around ~INR 18,737||$205 which is around ~ INR 15,364|
|What is the validity of the scores?||5 years.||5 years.|
|Test Dates||Offered year-round.||Offered year-round.|
|Duration of the Test||3 hours, 7 minutes.||3 hours, 45 minutes.|
|Number of Sections within the Test||4 sections: Quant, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment||3 main sections: Quant, Verbal, Analytical Writing.|
|Test Score Range||The composite GMAT score ranges, in 10-point increments, from 200 to 800.||The GRE Quant and Verbal Section range, in 1-point increments, from 130-170 for each section.|
|Which test is easier?||GMAT Quant is considered to be more difficult, and focusses on analytical skills. The way questions are asked in the GMAT is more challenging compared to the GRE. Furthermore, a calculator is not provided. In terms of Verbal, GMAT Verbal places more emphasis on Grammar, and the difficulty level in terms of Verbal for the GMAT vs GRE cannot be compared.||GRE Quant is considered to be more straightforward, in terms of the concepts tested and the nature of the questions asked. A calculator is permitted for the Quant Section as well. In terms of Verbal, GRE Verbal tests complex vocabulary heavily. However, as mentioned earlier, we cannot really compare the Verbal Section of the GRE vs GMAT in terms of difficulty.|
GMAT vs GRE: Test Structure
We’ve briefly covered the syllabi of both the GRE and the GMAT in the table above. Let us dig a little deeper into the same now.
Let’s get one thing straight. The concepts tests in the Quant Section of the both the GMAT and the GRE are very similar. They comprise:
- Data Interpretation
In fact, the Quant section of most standardized tests comprises these topics. The difference between the GRE and the GMAT in terms of the Quant Section, is the way in which these concepts are tested.
GMAT Quant is considered to be more difficult, and focuses on analytical skills. The way questions are asked in the GMAT is more challenging compared to the GRE. Furthermore, a calculator is not provided. GRE Quant is considered to be more straightforward, in terms of the concepts tested and the nature of the questions asked. A calculator is permitted for the Quant Section as well.
GMAT Quant comprises two sub-sections – The Quant Section and the Integrated Reasoning Section. The Quant Section contains two types of questions: Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency Questions (where you’ll have to decide whether the given data is sufficient to solve the question posed). The Integrated Reasoning Section will contain 4 question types – Table Analysis, Multi-Source Reasoning, Two-part Analysis, and Graphics Interpretation. The IR Section will require analysis of data from multiple sources in order to solve problems. It requires a combination of high order thinking, logic, and data interpretation.
Total Number of Questions: 31 Questions.
Duration: 62 minutes in total.
Score Range: 0-80 for Quant; 1-8 for IR.
GRE Quant is relatively simpler in terms of the nature of its questions. Question types are mostly MCQs, along with some numeric entry questions, questions with multiple correct answers, and questions related to quantitative comparisons. The use of a calculator is permitted in the GRE Quant Section.
Total Number of Questions: 40 questions.
Duration: 40 minutes in total.
Score Range: 130-170.
Verbal Section :
GMAT Verbal places more emphasis on Grammar, whereas the GRE Verbal tests complex vocabulary heavily. The difficulty level in terms of Verbal for the GMAT vs GRE cannot be compared.
As mentioned earlier, GRE Verbal places heavy emphasis on vocabulary. It has 2 sections within Verbal, and the question types vary from multiple-answer choices, MCQs, and filling in the blanks. The Topics tested are:
- Reading Comprehension
- Sentence Equivalence – unique to the GRE, this involves choosing two answers to fill a blank, both of which should produce logical and meaningful sentences that mean the same thing.
- Text Completion
- Critical Reasoning
Total Number of Questions: 40 questions (20 in each section)
Duration: 60 minutes in total.
Score Range: 130-170.
GMAT Verbal tends to focus more on grammar. There is only 1 question type in the Verbal Section – MCQs. The topic tested are similar to that of the GRE, with one exception – Sentence Correction. Let us look at the topics tested:
- Reading Comprehension
- Critical Reasoning
- Sentence Correction – This is unique to the GMAT. You will be given a sentence, with a certain part of the sentence highlighted for inspection. You will need to pick from 5 options, to determine which option fits best with the highlighted portion of the sentence, in order to produce a logical and meaningful sentence.
Total Number of Questions: 36 questions
Duration: 65 minutes in total.
Score Range: 0-60 (Scaled).
Analytical Writing Section
Both the GMAT and the GRE have a section for AWA, where you will be required to write an essay based on your analysis of a given prompt, reasoning, or argument presented.
GMAT AWA – 30 minutes
GRE AW – 2 tasks, 30 minutes each – 60 minutes in total.
GMAT vs GRE – Which test should you take?
Now that we’ve covered the syllabi of both tests, and analysed the difficulty levels of both the GRE and the GMAT, it is easy to see that the easier test for one individual may not be the easier test for another individual. If your Quant Skills are on point, the GRE will be easier for you because it is more straightforward. If you love puzzles, GMAT will prove to be an interesting game to you! On the other hand, if you’re proficient in the English Language, then either test will be a good fit. It is simply a matter of training the mind to recognize patterns, analyze data, and arrive at an answer. This is why Test Prep and Mock Tests are key.
From a b-school standpoint, the GMAT is accepted for every management and business program. The GRE is only just picking up at some major b-schools. Like we mentioned earlier, do your own research, and check that the b-school you are applying to accepts either score. To know more about which business schools accept the GRE, head on to this link. You can check the same for the GMAT, here, although the information may be redundant. Almost every b-school accepts the GMAT!
If a b-school accepts both scores, and you’re at odds to decide which exam to write, go with your strengths! If you’re not particularly comfortable with Math, go for the GRE so that you are given straightforward questions. Another good idea would be to take a diagnostic test for both exams, and figure out which exam you’re more comfortable with. If this data point is too skewed, go for the GMAT.
Note: The GMAT cannot stand for GRE Scores. Hundreds of graduate programs ranging from Computer Science to Humanities require only GRE Scores. The thing to remember is that the GMAT is purely for business programs.
Before embarking on preparing for either test, it is important to learn as much as you can about each test and various MBA programs from different countries. Here are some useful links:
- Do visit our GRE Blog, which talks about the GRE Exam at length.
- Due to the pandemic, a GRE Waiver has been introduced by some universities. Should you take this waiver? Here’s a deep dive on that!
- If you’re curious about MBA programs from various countries, check out our MBA Blogs!
- MBA in the USA
- MBA in the UK
- MBA in Canada
- MBA in Australia
- Last but not least, I would like to introduce you to Galvanize’s free GRE App, much loved by thousands of students.
Galvanize your Journey Abroad today and ace the test! Good luck!
Written by Saahil R Bhatt.