GRE vs GMAT: Which is better?

With an increasing number of B-schools accepting the GRE exam scores, candidates with vague post-graduate plans may wish to opt for the GRE rather than the GMAT. This would enable them to go for an MBA or an M.S., dual degree program or even a Ph.D. Taking the GRE would widen their scope of post-graduate study options, so such candidates may feel the GRE a better and practical test option.

But what about candidates who wish to apply only for an MBA program? Should they even consider the GRE or straightaway take the GMAT? It’s worth discussing how the GMAT and the GRE differ in nature and the advantages or disadvantages of opting for either.

What triggered the GRE vs GMAT race

It’s good to start off with some background and historical developments.

The story dates back to 2006 when GMAT owned by GMAC (Graduate Management Admissions Council) which had partnered with ETS (Educational Testing Service) all the while to manage their tests decided to part ways with ETS and instead made a new contract with ACT-Pearson as reported on The New York Times.

ETS which already conducts the GRE, now started making attempts to capture another big market by convincing business schools about accepting the GRE score on the grounds that they would be able to widen and diversify their applicant pool. In fact the changes that took place in the GRE test format in August 2011 were made to make it more relevant to business schools.

On similar lines, changes in the GMAT in June 2012 brought into the picture a new section, the Integrated Reasoning to make the test more b school friendly. As more and more schools start accepting the GRE score, the competition between the GMAT and the GRE is set to get tougher.

Choice of MBA programs that accept GMAT vs GRE

If a candidate is definitely going for an MBA, taking the GMAT would be an advantage. This would increase the options of business schools they can apply to.

How the colleges would view it?

The time-tested GMAT score has been considered a better indicator of a student’s capability and preparedness for a tough MBA program. This opinion would greatly vary, so candidates need to check the college website to see if they encourage candidates to submit the GRE score or not.

Increasing number of business schools have started accepting the GRE score and the numbers may go up in the future. For the business school, it serves the purpose of increasing the applicant pool as more candidates, especially from the younger age group, would be able to apply. A lot of top business schools including Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Columbia, Duke, NYU-Stern and many more are now accepting the GRE score.

Comparative test performance – Finding GMAT tougher than GRE?

There may be candidates who in spite of repeated attempts at the GMAT may not be able to raise their scores or whose performance in the GMAT practice tests may not be up to the mark, so they may have got discouraged from taking their GMAT.

If such candidates find that their performance in the GRE far exceeds that in the GMAT, they may be able to submit their GRE scores. Such applicants need to check if the schools they’re interested in accept the GRE scores and whether the GRE score are considered at par with the GMAT score.

Post-MBA career plan

A few industry recruiters take into account the GMAT scores. Especially for those applicants wishing to move into investment banking and management consulting, having a high GMAT score would prove to be an advantage.

Cost: GRE fees vs GMAT fees

The cost of taking a GRE is $195 whereas that of the GMAT is $250 – a difference of $65 between the two. Both the GMAT and GRE are computer-based test and can be taken throughout the year, however in areas where computer-based testing is not possible, GRE is available as a paper-based test up to thrice a year. Both the GMAT and the GRE scores are valid for five years.

Difference between GRE vs GMAT syllabus

Though there are similarities, there are also differences between the GRE and GMAT syllabus. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that studying for one will prepare you for the other.

Both the GMAT and the GRE have similar sections. While the GRE has the verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing sections, the GMAT has the Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning and Analytical Writing Assessment sections. The Integrated Reasoning section is a new addition.

Many find the Quantitative section in the GMAT tougher in comparison to the GRE whereas the Verbal section in the GRE seems to be more challenging in comparison to the GMAT.

GRE to GMAT conversion

How do you know whether a specific GRE score is better than some specific GMAT score? if you have a GRE score and a GMAT score, which one is stronger?

It might seem as if we are talking about comparing apples to oranges, right?. B-schools that accept both might have the same question.

ETS provides a tool that facilitates GRE to GMAT conversion. However, whether bschools use this or have their internal process of comparing GRE to GMAT scores is an open question.

Did you face the GMAT vs GRE dilemma? Which test did you choose and why?


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Sameer Kamat //
Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Connect with me on Google+ | Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin

42 Comments

  1. MBA Hopeful says:

    B-Schools view GMAT much highly than GRE.

  2. Pratik kurup says:

    Hi Sameer Sir,
    1.when ideally should I start my GMAT preparation. (currently about to start my first year of engg).
    2.would it be ideal to give my GMAT in my second or third year?
    3.what kind of job exp. Is likely to increase my chances of getting into H/S/W/booth.
    4.how should I coordinate my GMAT and CAT preparation.

  3. Arun says:

    I am currently in one of those dilemma, but my gut feeling says that GRE is better for me even though I have never given GMAT. I am really not sure whether I want to do a MBA or MS. In fact, I am looking out for a program that perfectly strikes balance between Business Skills as well as Technical Stuff. So, GRE makes more sense for me. My options are wide open if I take the GRE. If I had decided to take the GMAT, I would be restricting myself to only B-Schools.

    And, I have been seeing that , Globally, Many B-Schools like MIT, Harvard, Stanford started accepting GRE/GMAT which is a good sign. But, In Indian B-Schools, only GMAT is considered. I had a talk with one of the IIMC professors and his view was the GMAT measures Quantitative and Analytical Ability better than the GRE and he says that GRE is typically for Engineering, not for business schools.

    Sameer,

    Would there be a shift in perception about GRE among the Indian B-schools anytime soon ?

    Thanks
    Arun

    • Pranaya says:

      I am currently facing the same dilemma, looking for a program that strikes a perfect balance between technology and business skills. I am currently pursuing 3rd year of B.Tech computer science and I have started preparing for GRE. It would be really great if you could tell me about your experiences and help me solve my dilemma.

  4. Sameer Kamat says:

    @Pratik: Take the GMAT about a year earlier than your applications. That way you have some buffer to re-take it if the score is below your expectations.

    @Arun: You are right that the GRE has a wider net right now. The GMAT continues to be seen as a bschool specific requirement.
    The GMAT team has been lobbying in India more than GRE. If you are applying within the next couple of years, I wouldn’t hold my breath assuming the situation will change dramatically anytime soon.

  5. Ahmer says:

    Hi Sameer,
    i am from Pakistan, and currently doing BBA 3rd Year. i have one year left still…
    i am not really sure what should i do, but i have started doing GMAT, assuming that all business schools or majority will accept it..
    i am certain that i will do masters in Finance. but not sure about MS or MBA..
    can you please help me what should i do?

  6. Sameer Kamat says:

    Ahmer, for your profile, it’ll be too early to consider an international MBA. MS options are still open.

  7. prasoon kochhar says:

    sir
    My gre score is 314 quant-165 verbal-149 ….i wana apply for mba courses ….i dont have work experience but i hv a gud profile ……wat r my chances for geting admits from us universities?????

  8. Uday S says:

    My Profile:

    1995 X (SSC) 83% Maharashtra State Board
    1997 X+2 (HSC) 73% (Aggregate) Maharashtra State Board
    2001 BE Instrumentation & Medical Electronics 65% Mumbai University

    2001-2004 Worked for 3 years

    2004-2006 Post-Graduate Master’s in Management Studies from a very well-renowned and premier b school (India)
    (what my score does not emphasize is that I was in top 10 in class)

    2006-2009 Worked in a newspaper media firm. Role: Marketing & Sales Analytics. Website Analytics
    2009-2010 Worked in an education firm Role: Media Management, Marketing & Online Advertising
    2010 onwards Online Advertising Startup Role: SEO SEM SMM SMO Web Analytics

    In terms of career growth in corporations I think I have reached a plateau. The only way I can do something is by becoming an entrepreneur. I can grow the business of online advertising, etc.
    I know that for me to be a formidable force in this domain, I need work with the best in the business.
    I would like to work in some tech major but getting a breakthrough is difficult.

    What do you suggest in terms of careers abroad or study abroad options?

  9. Sameer Kamat says:

    @Prasoon: For the top schools, you can’t have a good profile without work experience. Rather than applying to very low ranked bechools (that may skip the work experience requirement), you’d be better off working for a few years before considering international MBA programs.

    @Uday: Here’s why many bschool grads may never launch a startup. If you want to become an entrepreneur, start right now. Don’t depend on the expensive and uncertain MBA route to get you there.

  10. uday says:

    chief,
    firstly kudos!
    i have been mostly just visiting and reading all the stuff that you write… your posts are very enlightening and am sure have enabled many to take decisions when at crossroads…
    thanks for your suggestions..
    let me add that I have already done an mba from a b school in India. One of the top ones or so called ‘premier ‘ ones. ..
    I have seen that about half a dozen of my mba batchmates have gone on to do their 2nd mba from very good schools in the USA.. e.g. of the ranks of michigan ross or marshall…

    I have suffered huge setbacks in my career… First it was the recession of 2008 and subsequent lay-offs … and then for the past 3 years have drifted in and out of roles … also made some wrong career moves and joined companies with little or no stability and hence got screwed..

    But have over a period of time built some good skill sets…

    I want frank advice from y ou on what to do…

    Sometimes I feel that this whole american MBA is ‘not a guaranteed’ thing… and sometimes i feel that it’s “now or never” and why miss the bus in such a case….

    What do y ou think?

    I would really want you to address all people sailing in the same boat as me by addressing this query…

    thank you….

  11. Prasanna says:

    Hi,

    Now I am in the same dilemma. Should i go for GRE or GMAT? I have done my UG in College of Engg,Guindy and work-ex of 1.5 years. I wanna pursue my masters in Finance(MiM). Though I have not given GMAT anytime,I have a feeling that GRE is easier than GMAT. Will i get through some top universities even if I give GRE?

  12. Sameer Kamat says:

    @Uday: We have a few (not many) folks working with us who already have a top MBA from India. Their goals are pretty clear and they are aware of the risks.

    When you are in that situation, a second MBA makes sense.

    If there’s confusion, it means you shouldn’t blindly follow what the dozen odd classmates did from your batch.
    The post-MBA recruitment phase can be brutal, when you are in an alien country.

    Your top MBA from India already demonstrates that you have the potential. Why go through the agni pariksha all over again?

    If you’ve had setbacks, why not set the career back on track in India itself?

    @Prasanna: Check the website of the MiM programs you want to target and see what they prefer. The choice will be easy.

  13. varish says:

    hi i am an electrical engineer with a mba degree. I am planning to pursue PHD could u please suggest me the right exam to take gre or gmat.

  14. Sameer Kamat says:

    Varish: If the PhD is in a management related subject (like corporate strategy management), they’ll ask for a GMAT score. Check the website to be sure you are choosing the right exam.

  15. ravikumar says:

    Hi Sameer,
    I have given my GMAT once but got a very low score,after doing some research i felt GRE is quite different from GMAT and i felt that to score GRE is better than GMAAT, but i am not sure that the universities in canada accepts GRE for MBA program or not.
    which one is better to get into MBA in canada?

  16. Nigna says:

    Hey Sameer,
    I want to make a career in advertising, I already have an MBA degree from a premium b-school in India. 7 months back, through campus recruitment I joined a manufacturing firm. I am working with the procurement department of this firm but my interest lies in the creative field.
    I want to take up the M.A program (advertising & public relations) offered by Moody college of communication (The University of Texas at Austin). Although I plan to do that 1 year down the line. Would it be a good idea.

  17. Sameer Kamat says:

    @Ravikumar: Check out the websites of Rotman, Ivey, Schulich to see if they accept GRE scores.

    @Nigna: I don’t know about the program you are targetting. But it will have its risks as you are going there will very little exposure in the field. Think about why any employer would want to sponsor your visa, where there are local folks who can join without the same legal hassles.

    NOTE: Please post your queries on our MBA forum.

  18. kapil says:

    Hello sameer sir i’hv completed my b-com from distance learning course from merut university. My question is is my applicable for gnat or gee.pls reply me asap. M very much confused about my courier. So please tell me what i do now.

  19. Divya says:

    Sir,
    I have just completed my 2nd year engineering, and am sure that I wish to pursue an MBA at one of the top universities in USA. Here are a few queries:
    1) Do I need work experience? If yes, what is the ideal duration? Does the 1-month training count?
    I would not like to work for more than a year because I have heard that it is difficult to get back to rigorous studies.
    2) What is the maximum amount of scholarship granted by top b-schools? How feasible is the loan option? that too with all the recent recession and inflation scare
    3) Some b-school was boasting about placing a large umber of students for 3-months etc… What after that?
    Need some advice before plunging into the race

  20. banu says:

    Hi,

    I have got admission in one of the top 25 to 30 bschools in india. I have passed out in 2011. I have work ex of 1.5 yrs. But now I am not working. I really want to study at one of the premier b schools in India or do mba abroad. Since I m not workin i really dont have many options..like either join col here or prepare for gmat/gre and aplply in feb2014. Does this career break affect my chances abroad? Is it worth preparing and go ahead? I do have a career break but i have been part of volunteering activities and other extra curriculars. Please give your suggestion.

  21. preeti says:

    Hello Sir,

    I’m Preeti.. M currently doing b.tech and m in 7th sem.. i want b an entrepreneur… nd after reading all stuff i think GRE is best to get enrolled… plzz guide me as i dnt knw much about this GRE program..whthr it is best suited for me or not.. nd and guide me for d next level of my career,..

    thnku..

  22. sourav says:

    Hello,
    I am interesting in masters in finance. But I am not sure if an mba or ms would be better. I will applying for colleges in a few months and am concentrating on europe. Could you suggest a gre or gmat based on a good college selector basis?

  23. Sameer Kamat says:

    Dear peepals, please read the previous response.

  24. dashmeet says:

    Reading is good “Passive” way of improving vocabulary, but when you are resorting to making lists, that is “Active” method. Problem with active method of learning words is that it is cumbersome and boring, and you doing retain and unless you use it in writing sentences to apply the word, very little chance is that you increase your lexical size.

  25. Dr S Bajpai says:

    Sir,
    I am in my second year of M.S (Surgery) in India. I completed my MBBS in 2013 and immediately enrolled for P.G. Recently I have been thinking to go for a M.B.A instead of MCh. Is health care MBA a good option for me. Will my M.S degree and medical bachground give me an edge and will my three years of residency in India considered as work experience. What should I prefer GRE or GMAT. This is a new path for Indian medical graduates so you can understand that I am almost clueless about the prospectives.

  26. Ankita says:

    Hello Sir,
    I have completed final year of my engineering recently in 2014 and I am really not sure whether I want to do a MBA or MS. Your post has helped me to learn that GRE scores are accepted in B schools too. Please may I know how much marks is expected in GRE for Texas Tech and Vanderbilt university to do MBA?

  27. Rockey says:

    Hi ,

    I am currently working , and have a overall job experience of 1 year 8 months in IT sector. have been preparing for CAT lately. Have a few questions that are confusing me.
    1) With experience of 1 year 8 months, what is more suitable for me. GRE or GMAT , for MBA course. Need to go into good MBA college
    2) When is best time to take the exam GMAT /GRE .
    3) do GMAT colleges give scholarship.

  28. havya says:

    i am about to start engineering in It sector. i wanted to pursue ms in us.what exams should i apply for?what are the best universities in us?in which year of engineering should i. Take the test?cost of exams?i am very much motivated about the information in your website. please sincerely reply me

  29. Hardik shah says:

    Hello ! Sir ,
    I am in 3 rd year of CIVIL ENGINEERING
    I want to do MBA from Harvard business school
    So please tell me what is the eligibilty criteria for it
    And which exam i have to pass GRE OR GMAT
    Sir , pls help me.

  30. mithul johnson says:

    Hi sameer

    I have finished my engineering in computer science and wish to pursue an mba abroad.I am not very sure whether i will be able to move abroad so I want to keep my option open for doing it in India too.So I m confused whether I should take up gmat or gre.I checked my options and saw that there are very few universities in India that accept gre scores for mba.But I feel that I may score better if I take up gre compared to gmat.Please help me out as I am totally confused about this.

  31. aditi talmale says:

    hi sameer,

    i want to pursue mba from a reputed college. m a B.E. graduate from a state university. and went for a drop in order to prepare for entrence exams.
    but unfortunately the cat result didn’t come out to be in my favour. was thinking about pursuing mba from abroad but from a reputed university/college.
    now the problem is that i don’t have work experience and can’t wait to have either.
    so please suggest if gre or gmat?
    and what all university/ colleges would accept the scores without work experience…….
    please help in a big trouble :-(

  32. Akansha Tyagi says:

    Hello Sameer,

    I am in a dilemma. I have done BSc Life Sciences from Delhi University. MBA (HR & IB). After my masters I have been associated with technology sales. Oracle India Pvt Ltd (3.3 years) and NEC Corp (6 months). I want to go for a consulting role in IT, so decided to go for a Business Analyst kind of course.

    I would appreciate if you can suggest which test I should go for and may be with some colleges and course too.

    Regards,
    Akansha

  33. GOKULESH NAYAK says:

    HI SAMEER,

    I have done my Diploma in Plastics CIPET. And I worked as a TOOLROOM ENGINNER (3 YEARS,PRODUCTION) and PRODUCTION SUPERVISIOR (1 YEAR). Meanwhile I had my BTECH in MECHANICAL (RAJASTHAN UNIVERSITY,DISTANCE) and now I am going to take GRE for my MBA in UK. Before that I have to prepare for my GRE. So could u just assist me best GRE coaching institutes who can enlighten me in a better way and not by rushing cause I need little time cope up with the preparations…

    REGARDS ,
    GOKULESH

  34. Sudipta Dutta says:

    Hi sameer,

    Currently i m working in Capgemini india as consultant with a work experience of 2.5 years. I want to pursue mba in usa which test will be better for me: GRE or GMAT? Which is easy to score?

    ICSE 91%
    ISC 88%
    B.E 82%

    Regards,
    Sudipta

  35. Hardik says:

    In case I want to apply to business schools but not for MBA but for MS (in finance) which exam should I opt for.???
    in that case would a GRE score send a negative impression.

    Regards

  36. NIKUNJ says:

    Hi,

    Can some body help me ?
    Actually I stuck in these two big name GRE and GMAT.At present I am working with Wipro and I want to persue my higher study.But as i want to go towards mangerial side but many people told me that we did n’t get Scholarship or fellowship for GMAT program.That’s why some time i thought to go with GRE because my family condition is not so good.So can anybody suggest me what I have to do and if some one is experienced enough so that he/she can tell me a good idea about schorship.So please revert me on this post

    Thank you .

  37. Ashwini says:

    Hi sir
    I have completed my MBA in hr from India(Pune University) I want to persue my futher studies in HR…I am confused should I go with GRE or GMAT also I want to know is there any course which accepts GRE score for MS in HR..

  38. Rahul Mithaiah says:

    hi sir,
    i’m currently doning my degree in Bsc computer science, i”m in my second year.
    when is it ideal for me to give GMAT or GRE?

  39. Vijay says:

    Hello Sameer

    I am a Masters in Commerce with a 6 year work experience as a Civil Servant. I intend to have a career with one of the International Organisations or International NGOs as BMGF, DFID etc at senior roles. Plz suggest me on the route for that – an internatioal MBA or a course as Masters in Public Policy or MPA.

  40. Shanmukha says:

    Hello Sameer!
    I have already completed all my processing for my MBA program applied for USA. But my GRE Score is not fulfilling university requirement. They are asking me to take retest. What should I do, whether to take GRE or GMAT. Which would be better option even for my further carrier?
    Thank you.

  41. Ice says:

    Y can’t we take up both GRE and GMAT tests?
    Suppose v pursue multiple courses in the same university and one course demands for GRE score and the other GMAT score??…..is that possible?

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