Student-centric advice and objective recommendations
Higher education has never been more confusing or expensive. Our goal is to help you navigate the very big decisions related to higher ed with objective information and expert advice. Each piece of content on the site is original, based on extensive research, and reviewed by multiple editors, including a subject matter expert. This ensures that all of our content is up-to-date, useful, accurate, and thorough.
Our reviews and recommendations are based on extensive research, testing, and feedback. We may receive commission from links on our website, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted. You can find a complete list of our partners here.
GMAT vs. GRE: Key Differences to Consider
The GMAT and GRE are both graduate school entry exams, but the GMAT is designed specifically for students applying to business school. Many MBA programs accept either exam, which can leave applicants wondering which test they should take. Let’s break down the key differences between the GMAT and the GRE.
See also: What is the GMAT? Everything you need to know
GMAT vs GRE: Overview
The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) are both graduate school entry exams. The main difference is that the GRE is taken to gain admission to a range of graduate programs, while the GMAT is designed specifically for business school programs. However, many business schools accept scores from either exam. In fact, a recent Kaplan report shows that 92% of business schools accept the GRE as an alternative to the GMAT. Accepting the GRE widens the admission pool beyond students from traditional business backgrounds. It also gives MBA applicants the flexibility to choose which test can best showcase their academic potential.
GMAT vs GRE: Key differences
|Why Take It||Accepted by all business schools||Accepted by 1,200+ business schools worldwide|
|Test Structure||Consists of:
|Test Duration||3.5 hours||3.75 hours (Computer)
3.5 hours (Paper)
|How It’s Scored||The overall GMAT score ranges from 200 to 800||Verbal and Quantitative scores range from 130 to 170|
Do business schools prefer the GMAT or the GRE?
Nearly all business schools accept both exams, but some programs prefer the GMAT over the GRE. According to a recent report by Kaplan, 26% of admissions officers say applicants who submit a GMAT score have an advantage over those who submit a GRE score. Only 2% say GRE-takers have the advantage, while the remaining 73% say neither exam-taker has the advantage. To compare applications objectively, many business schools use this comparison tool to convert GRE scores to GMAT scores. Check with the business schools you’re considering and see if they indicate a preference for one exam over the other.
Which exam should I take?
If your prospective MBA program doesn’t indicate a preference either way, you should take the test that highlights your individual strengths. The GMAT and GRE are similar in many ways. Both require writing tasks, involve early high school-level math, and rely heavily on reading comprehension. But it’s important to understand that the tests have different focuses.
The GMAT is designed specifically for business students. Because of this, students with traditional MBA backgrounds in finance, banking, or consulting may prefer this exam. The GMAT generally suits students who excel at solving complex problems using data presented in charts, tables, and text. Meanwhile, the GRE is designed for a variety of graduate programs ranging from visual arts to higher education. Because the GRE caters to a wider audience, it may be preferable for students transitioning to business from other fields of study.
When in doubt, take a practice test
Ultimately, the best way to decide between the exams is to take a practice test. After taking a GRE practice test and a GMAT practice test, compare the two and see which one you prefer. Both practice tests can be taken for free. And of course, a solid study plan is key to performing well on either exam.
Once you take both practice tests, you can decide which test to tailor your studying to. If the schools you are looking into accept either, there’s no sense in studying for the exam you perform worse on. Using this strategy, you can maximize your GRE or GMAT score.
Keep on reading
If you’re considering returning to school to obtain your MBA, you may find these resources helpful: