GRE versus GMAT: Which one should you take and why?

The biggest difference between GMAT and GRE is that the GMAT is used by business schools as part of their admissions whereas the GRE is used for admission to a series of graduate programs. GMAT and GRE differ on 6 key parameters which are Fees, Test duration, Test design, Test structure, Scoring system, and Number of business schools accepting them.

The simple way to look at the GRE versus GMAT question is to choose GMAT if you only want to apply to a business school and choose GRE if you’re still undecided on the type of graduate program. While this is partially true, choosing between GMAT and GRE takes a little more effort. The trick is to look at the individual sections of both the tests and decide.

In this article, we have highlighted these differences and compared each test’s quant and verbal sections to arrive at the answer to the question, is GMAT easier than GRE or is GRE easier than GMAT!

6 key differences between GMAT and GRE

  1. Test Fees
  2. Number of business schools accepting them
  3. Test duration
  4. Test design
  5. Test structure
  6. Scoring system

But these 6 points can be further broken down into multiple ones. Look at the table below which compares GMAT and GRE on various parameters.

Differences GMAT GRE
Which business schools accept these tests More than 7000 programs at 2300 business schools Fewer business schools
Test fee $250 $205
Test Validity 5 years 5 years
Test dates Year-round Year-round
How the test is administered Computer-based test Computer-based and paper-based (where computer-based tests are not available)
Test Format Computer adaptive test Computer adaptive test
Number of sections 4 6 (1 unscored research section included)
Test duration 3 hours 7 minutes 3 hours 45 minutes
AWA section 1 essay – 30 minutes 2 essays – 60 minutes
IR section 12 questions – 30 minutes NA
Quant Section 1 section – 31 questions – 62 minutes 20 questions each in 2 sections – 70 minutes
Verbal Section 1 section – 36 questions – 65 minutes 20 questions each in 2 sections – 60 minutes
Test Score Range 200 – 800 (in 10-point increment) 260 – 340 ( in 1-point increment)
Quant score range  6 – 51 (scaled score) 130 – 170
Verbal score range  6 – 51 (scaled score) 130 – 170
IR score 1 – 8 NA
AWA score 0 – 6 0 – 6

Differences in scoring

If you take the GMAT, the most important score you receive will be your composite score, which can range from 200 to 800. The composite score takes only your scores from the Verbal and Quantitative sections into account. Your scores on Analytical Writing and Integrated Reasoning are not included in this score.

You’ll also receive specific section scores. The Verbal and Quantitative sections both have score ranges of 0-60, in one-point increments. The score range for Analytical Writing is 0-6, in half-point increments, and the score range for the Integrated Reasoning section is 1-8, in one-point increments.

The GMAT is taken on the computer, and it is an adaptive test. This means when you begin the Quantitative and Verbal sections, the first question you see in each section will be medium difficulty. If you answer that question correctly, the next question will be slightly harder, and if you answered incorrectly, the next question will be slightly easier. This process continues throughout the entire section for both Quantitative and Verbal. Once you answer a question on the GMAT, you can’t go back to it. Adaptive testing is used to get more accurate scores by selecting specific questions with varying difficulty levels from a larger pool.

Differences between the At-home GRE and GMAT tests

The at-home GMAT lacks the analytical writing section of the test, making the GMAT test shorter. It can be completed in just two hours and 37 minutes versus the three hours and 45 minutes for the GRE at home.

The at-home GMAT test has a virtual whiteboard and does not allow test-takers the use of either a physical whiteboard with an erasable marker or paper with a transparent sheet protector and erasable marker, which are allowed for the GRE test.

The at-home GRE allows test-takers to access unofficial scores at the end of the test and to cancel scores at that time if preferred. Official scores would then be available online from the company that administers the test, Educational Testing Service, within 10 to 15 days. The at-home GMAT, administered as always by the Graduate Management Admission Council, does not allow test-takers to preview or cancel scores right after taking the test; instead, they get their official score report by email within seven days.

Global trends: GMAT versus GRE

Admissions trends are showing that business schools are looking for applicants with more than just a business background, and that means that the GMAT is not the only test in the game anymore. Since the GMAT and the GRE are completely different tests, comparing scores on the two is like comparing apples to oranges. ETS (the GRE administrative body) and GMAC (the GMAT administrative body) both use comparison tools to put student’s scores into perspective, but many MBA programs use the ETS comparison tool as a benchmark. To get the most out of your score and your application, you should research your chosen schools to see what score ranges they require for admission.

In general, the GMAT suits those who have strong quantitative and analytical skills, who also excel at interpreting data presented in charts, tables, and text to solve complex problems. The GRE math section tends to be more straightforward and, unlike the GMAT, includes a calculator for all quantitative problems. Strong editors may gravitate to the GMAT’s verbal section while test-takers with strong vocabularies may prefer the GRE. Both tests have their “oddball” question types—Quantitative Comparison on the GRE and Data Sufficiency on the GMAT—that will take some prep to get used to.

How do I choose?

The best way to determine whether the GMAT or GRE is better suited to your abilities is to get your feet wet with a practice test for each exam. Getting into business school is competitive and you don't want to take an actual GRE or GMAT sight unseen.

No matter which test you decide to take, you'll need to prepare if you want to get a score that the admissions committees can’t ignore! You should also watch this short video to understand the mindset of the B-schools regarding these two tests:

Read More:

The Best Executive MBA Programs in the World and How to Crack Them?

Full time International MBA Application Requirements & Checklist

Indian IT Applicant: 6 steps to ace MBA Interviews?

Is Work Experience Necessary for MBA?

MBA in 2021: MBA World in the Post Covid-19 Reality

Engineering Background & Low GMAT Score gets MBA Admit to Schulich Business School

With Only 3 Years of Experience, MBA Applicant cracks one of the Best B School in the World

From a low GMAT and a year gap to an INSEAD admit: Priya's MBA admissions journey





Meet Jatin LIVE