How to Decide Between GRE and GMAT: A Comparative Analysis

    Updated on: 11 Aug 2022

    When a student chooses to study masters (management courses) abroad, one of the first steps they have to take is appear for a standardised test. The two commonly accepted tests are GMAT and GRE. The confusion begins with questions like which of the two tests is easier or a better option for MBA. To lay all such questions to rest, we explain the main differences between GMAT and GRE. Then we follow it up with a comparative analysis to help you choose.

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    The Differences Between GRE and GMAT

    Full Names:

    • Graduate Record Examinations or GRE
    • Graduate Management Admission Test or GMAT

    Who are Conducting Bodies?

    • GRE: Educational Testing Service or ETS, a non-profit educational assessment and research organization.
    • GMAT: Graduate Management Admission Council or GMAC, an association of leading graduate business schools.

    What is a GMAT or GRE Test?

    • GRE tests verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and critical thinking skills of a person. It measures if a student is suitable for graduate and higher-level studies. It is the score that colleges around the world ask for when a student applies for masters, J.D., and doctoral degrees in any field.
    • GMAT tests verbal, mathematical, integrated reasoning and analytical writing skills of an applicant. It measures if a student is capable of attending and successfully passing an MBA program. GMAT is exclusively for business schools.

    Do MBA Programs Accept GRE or GMAT?

    • Only 1280 business schools accept GRE, but this pool includes names like Harvard, Stanford, London Business School, INSEAD, etc. You can find the full list here.
    • Over 2,300 colleges and 7000 courses accept GMAT, i.e., almost every B school in the world. You can search the complete list here.

    What are the Test Structures?

    • GRE is a computer-based test (paper-based option also available). It has the following sections:
     

    Measure

    Number of Questions

      Allotted Time  

    Analytical Writing
      (one section with two separately timed tasks  

      One "Analyze an issue" task and one "Analyze an argument" task  

    30 min per task

    Verbal Reasoning
    Two sections

    20 questions per section

    30 min per task

    Quantitative Reasoning
    (Two Sections)

    20 questions per section

    35 min per task

    Unscored

    Varies

    Varies

    Research

    Varies

    Varies

    1. The unscored section is an experimental segment and is 30 to 35 minutes long. It can be either math or verbal.
    2. The research section has 20 questions, either verbal or quantitative, but it is not included in the score.
    3. The total test time is 3.75 hours.
    4. GRE adapts to the ability of the applicant only between sections. So, if you score low in the first section of Quant, the second will be easier. Questions within a section always remain at the same difficulty level. This benefit is available in computer-based test only. 
    • GMAT is a computer-based test (Paper-based option ended in 2016) consisting of the following sections:
      1. Analytical Writing Assessment: one 30-minute essay.
      2. Integrated Reasoning: 12 questions in 30 minutes.
      3. Quantitative: 31 questions in 62 minutes.
      4. Verbal: 36 questions in 65 minutes.
      5. The entire test takes 3.5 hours, which includes two optional 8-minute long breaks.
      6. GMAT is entirely adaptive. It implies the difficulty of the next question is based on the answer to the present one. If you answer a tough question wrong, it will give you a slightly easier question next.

    How is GMAT and GRE Scoring Done?

    • The Three sections of GRE are scored separately. They are not added to make one composite score. 
      • Verbal Reasoning - 130 -170, in1 points increments
      • Quantitative Reasoning - 130 -170, in1 points increments
      • Analytical Writing - 0 -6, in half points increments
    • GMAT has four scores (one for each section) and then a composite score. The overall score includes the verbal and quant scores. 
      • Quant: 6-51 given in 1-point increments
      • Verbal: 6-51 given in 1-point increments
      • Analytical Writing Assessment: 0-6 given in 0.5 increments
      • Integrated Reasoning: 1-8 given in 1-point increments
      • Overall: 200 to 800 given in 10-point increments
      • There is no negative marking, but if you get an answer wrong, the next one will be easier and carry less marks, which impacts the complete score.

    What’s the Cost of GRE and GMAT?

    Clearly, the difference in cost is not that big. 

    How Long are the Test Scores Valid?

    Both scores are valid for 5 years.

    Do Business Schools Prefer GMAT or GRE: Key Factors To Consider

    While factors like GMAT exam fees or GRE test prep should be thought over, they are not the most pivotal points to consider while deciding between GRE and GMAT. Here are some key elements that you should base your decision on:

    What Master’s Degree do you Want to Apply for?

    GMAT is limited to MBA schools. If you are not thinking of pursuing the field of business, do not take the GMAT. For instance, if you aim to study Masters in Computer Science, then GRE is your test. 

    Does your MBA School Accept a GRE Score?

    GRE is accepted by some MBA colleges too besides other colleges and courses. But the list is limited, therefore, check if the schools you are applying to accept GRE score for business programs. 

    What is Your Career Goal?

    If you are not sure of which master’s degree you want to study, consider your career goal. For example, if you want to do research later on, then GRE would be a better option as it is accepted for dual and doctoral programs. If you are sure that management is the area where you want to work in the future, it is best to stick to the GMAT.

    How Suitable is the Test as per Your Ability?

    While there are a lot of similarities in the two test structures, there are a few differences. It is clear from the test structure that GRE lacks the Integrated Reasoning section. In addition, the verbal and quantitative parts of the two tests are slightly different. 

    • GRE focuses a bit on vocabulary, while GMAT lays emphasis on grammar and logical reasoning. It means a student whose first language is not English will find the GMAT verbal sections simpler.
    • GRE focuses on number manipulation and a sense for quant, while GMAT tests require the test-taker to have in-depth knowledge and a systematic approach. It signifies that students will find the quantitative section easier in GRE than in GMAT.

    How Comfortable are you with the Test Structure?

    There is a difference of 25 minutes between the duration of GRE and GMAT. It may seem small, but when you sit for an exam for over three hours, every minute seems to stretch. Factor your tenacity when picking between the two. 
    Another point to consider is the provision in GRE for students to return to questions. In GMAT, once you have answered a question, it is final. You cannot go back to review it. GRE allows students to skip a question within a section and then come back to it later. The option of returning reduces pressure while taking the test.

    How Flexible are you with Time and Location? 

    A student can take GMAT in 39 centres spread across 34 cities in India. In comparison, GRE is offered only in 22 or so centres located in approximately 12 cities. There is a higher possibility of finding a GMAT test centre near you as compared to that of a GRE center. If you think you are comfortable travelling a long distance to take the test,  then you can easily opt for GRE. 

    Who Should Take the GRE?

    GRE lacks an overall score, which means that when you apply to an MBA college with a GRE score, they will first convert it into a GMAT equivalent. There is a score conversion table given by ETS, but it is not foolproof and errors do occur.
    To put it simply, if you want to apply to a wide range of degrees such as a Master's in Economics or MBA or Ph.D. in CS abroad, then take the GRE.

    Who should take the GMAT?

    9 out of 10 business school aspirants take the GMAT. In short, if you want to get into an MBA program or a course like Masters in Finance, then pick GMAT.

    The Nuts and Bolts 

    The time taken for GMAT preparation or size of the GRE exam syllabus are not crucial determinants when choosing which exam to take. Base the conclusion on the factors discussed above, primarily your intended course(s).

    Other Relevent Information -

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