[Editor’s note: Don’t miss the new section towards the end, where we reveal the results of a GRE vs GMAT survey that we did in May 2021.]
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.
Our best admission consultants get the same question day in and day out. So we thought an article would help sort things out.
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.
Read this interesting observation on the average GRE scores for top MBA programs at business schools.
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.
In fact, many deserving consulting and banking aspirants fail the eligibility test for the elite consulting firms and investment banks, for the only reason that they don’t have a high enough GMAT score to clear the first hurdle.
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.
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.
Read more about MBA applicants who succeeded despite low GMAT scores.
GMAT or GRE for Engineers: Which is easier?
Many engineers find the GMAT a little easier than the GMAT, since they find the quantitative section more familiar than the verbal section. This is why if you look at the GMAT score breakup for engineers, you’ll find that the quant score is generally higher than the verbal score.
The GRE has a greater focus on testing verbal concepts, including the need to have an expanded vocabulary of difficult English words. Many non-engineers prefer the GRE exam. You’ll also come across many engineers who prefer using the GRE score that they used for their masters (MS) admissions.
But don’t rely on these generalisations. It’s best that you look at a few sample questions for GRE and GMAT. Compare the GRE syllabus with the GMAT syllabus. Then decide for yourself if the GRE or GMAT is easier for engineers.
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?
Learn more about the entrance exams and scholarships:
– Everything you need to know about the GMAT exam
– All you need to know about the GRE exam
– List of business schools that accept GRE scores.
– ISB admit with GRE score
– MBA scholarship success stories
– Are the top MBA consulting firms affordable?