GMAT vs. GRE: Which Is Better For An MBA?

Once you’ve decided to apply to business school, one of the first questions you’ll have to deal with is, Should I take the GMAT or the GRE, since business schools are now widely accepting the GRE for admission? There is not a single, easy answer to the question, but this article will present a few important considerations in deciding between the GMAT and the GRE for your MBA plans.

GMAT vs. GRE: What’s the Difference?

Probably the biggest difference between the GMAT and GRE is the design and purpose of each test. The GMAT is designed almost exclusively for business school admissions, while the GRE is designed for admission to a broad variety of graduate-level programs. It was only in the last 8 years or so that business schools began accepting the GRE for business school admissions in an effort to attract a more diverse applicant pool. There are, of course, other basic differences in GRE vs. GMAT test structure and test scoring, the details of which are worth exploring as well. Outside of the structural details, there are other more pressing questions.

Do Business Schools Prefer the GMAT?

Shortly after business schools began accepting the GRE, this may have been the case. But as of recent years, most business schools will accept your GRE score with no reservations or concerns. There may be slight policy differences among individual schools, and there are a handful of programs that specifically require the GMAT, but if a school claims to accept the score of either exam, you should feel free to submit either. The easiest way to clarify policy differences is simply to contact the school’s admissions office directly, and we strongly recommend you confirm with the policies of particular schools before making any final decisions.

GMAT vs. GRE: Which Test is Easier?

GMAT vs. GRE—which test is easier? In general, the GMAT Quantitative section is designed for students with stronger analytical skills and who are proficient in interpreting and integrating data from multiple sources such as tables, graphs, charts, and complicated word problems. Thus, the GMAT math tends to be more complex and less straightforward than the GRE quantitative sections, though each test has question-types unique to that particular test. On the verbal side, many will claim that the GRE verbal is more challenging because it is primarily vocabulary-based (along with reading passages) and preparation for vocabulary is more time-consuming and challenging. The GMAT verbal is centered on grammar and usage rules as well as understanding logic and reasoning. Consequently, many will claim that the GMAT verbal is less challenging to prepare for.

GMAT vs. GRE for Business School: So What’s the Answer?

It may sound like a cop-out, but the honest answer is that it depends entirely on the individual student. Here are some further considerations for each of the tests:

Reasons to take the GRE for Business School:
  • You are applying to other graduate programs in addition to business schools.
  • You are very confident in your verbal skills, especially in vocabulary and critical reading.
  • You are less confident in your quantitative skills.
  • GMAT vs. GRE score conversion points toward the GRE.
  • You prefer the testing flexibility of the section-adaptive format, which allows you to skip over questions in any given section and return to them later.
    • This gives a powerful advantage of being able to focus on your strengths at first, maximizing your performance and offering better management of your time.
  • You score high on the GRE diagnostic practice test.
 Reasons to Take the GMAT:
  • You are applying only to business schools.
  • You are thoroughly confident in your math skills and are proficient in interpreting data from multiple sources.
  • On the verbal side, you are less confident in your vocabulary skills and could be more comfortable with your understanding of grammar, usage, diction, etc.
  • You do not have a history of timing/pacing issues on standardized tests.
  • GMAT vs. GRE score conversion points toward the GMAT.
  • You are not daunted by the rigidness of the question-adaptive format of the GMAT.
    • On the GMAT, you cannot skip over questions and return to them later, which prevents you from prioritizing questions based on difficulty.
    • You must commit to an answer to a question in order to move on to the next one.
  • You score very well on the GMAT diagnostic practice test.

Next Steps

Compare your GMAT and GRE scores with the test converter, learn more about our online GRE & GMAT tutors, and then connect with us to learn how we can help you decide between the tests and get a head start on your prep!

Related GRE & GMAT Resources

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