GRE vs GMAT for MBA – Which test should I take?

For many years, the GMAT used to be the only standardized test for MBA admissions. That is not the case anymore. Every year, more business schools start accepting GRE scores as well. Now, most applicants have the option to pick either examination, and the admissions committee considers their performance based on conversion charts and percentiles.

“Among the 156 MBA programs surveyed by Kaplan Test Prep between August and November 2019, 93% reported that they allowed applicants to submit GRE scores as an alternative to GMAT scores.”[US News]

Ilana Kowarski

If you are getting ready to start applying for graduate school; which one should you chose GRE or GMAT? This article describes some key factors to make the right decision.

A Fair Question: GRE vs GMAT for MBA

Do MBA schools prefer the GMAT or GRE?

When a school gives you the option to choose, they do not give preference to either one. Most schools use a standardized conversion chart to compare GRE and GMAT scores. Also, some post their conversion charts on their admissions website.

Sometimes, when you apply for an MBA program, you are applying for a particular concentration such as finance or marketing. On those occasions, your exam choice could make a difference. The GMAT is known for having a more demanding quantitative section and a GRE for having a more demanding verbal section. Consider choosing the exam that highlights the skills you will bring to the program. If you are considering a finance-oriented program, you might want to take the GMAT and impress them with your quantitative section performance. In the end, your test score is just one factor that will be considered for your admission decision. Nonetheless, you should emphasize your assets.

What exams are accepted by your selected MBA programs?

You are probably applying to multiple graduate programs. Do all of them accept GRE and GMAT? If there is one exam that is accepted in all your applications, then you might consider taking that one. Depending on your timeline and resources, it can be challenging to prepare for both examinations. Focusing on one gives you a lot more time to take practice exams and get used to the testing details.

Are you applying to any non-MBA program?

By default, most MBA programs request GMAT scores, and only a percentage of them accept GMAT and GRE. For any other graduate program, it is different. Those graduate programs require GRE scores. It is rare than a graduate program, which is not an MBA, would explicitly request for GMAT scores.

If you are applying to several programs, including any that is not an MBA, then you will need to take the GRE and possibly the GMAT too. Take the time to do your research and check if your programs are flexible towards their GMAT and GRE request. My recommendation is to focus on one test when possible.

Which one is easier? or harder?

This answer depends on your skillset…

Both exams have a Quantitative Reasoning and a Verbal Reasoning section. But the difficulty of those sections vary. The GMAT has a steep Quantitative section with challenging logic questions. If you are a math-oriented individual, then the GMAT would be the right choice. The GRE has a challenging vocabulary section, and it is known for featuring obscure words in its vocabulary section. If you feel comfortable with a demanding language section with complicated vocabulary logic, then you should consider the GRE.

Aside from just the content and difficulty of the exams, you should also consider the main structure. Both exams have a similar overall length. Apart from the writing section, the GRE has two Quantitative sections, two Verbal Reasoning sections, and an experimental section. The parts appear in any order. It is difficult to determine if you are solving an experimental section.

Aside from the writing section, the GMAT has one Quantitative section, 1 Verbal Reasoning section, and one Integrated Reasoning Section. The GMAT allows you to choose the order for each section. It might seem like a small detail. But having some control over your testing can make a difference and boost your confidence.

Since there are more sections in the GRE, those sections are shorter. In the GMAT, the parts are lengthier. Test your concentration and focus when considering both exams. If you have difficulty concentrating for a whole hour, then you might not perform well taking the GMAT. The GRE gives you more leeway, with sections being only 30-35 minutes long.

Final Considerations: GRE vs GMAT for MBA

  • In most MBA programs, GMAT is not the only option anymore. You can choose between GRE and GMAT.
  • Research the standardized testing options and consider taking one exam if it is accepted in all your applications.
  • Boost your scores by choosing the exam that matches your skills. Also, consider taking a practice exam of each to verify which one is a better fit.
  • The results for both exams are valid for five years. You have plenty of time to apply to an MBA program or even reuse your scores for a future graduate program.

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