GMAT or GRE for MBA : Which is better?
While the GMAT exam is the most popular qualifying test for MBA abroad, an increasing number of business schools are accepting GRE scores. This has resulted in confusion amongst MBA aspirants about taking GMAT or GRE for MBA. So if you’re not sure which exam to go for, we have a simple, four-step solution for you.
While GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) has been designed solely for business school applicants, GRE (Graduate Record Examination) allows you to apply for most graduate programs. As an increasing number of MBA programs are accepting both exams, the question “GMAT or GRE for MBA?” has become fairly common among applicants. To help answer it, we suggest you follow these 4 steps.
Step 1: Which Exam do Business Schools Prefer
If you haven’t chosen between an MBA program and another graduate degree, taking the GRE will give you the flexibility you need. But keep in mind – not all MBA programs have an equal preference for GRE and GMAT. In a 2015 survey conducted by Kaplan Test Prep, 25% of the 222 participating MBA programs said that the GMAT test-takers had an added advantage. These schools believe that students taking the GMAT will be more committed and better equipped to pursue an MBA. Moreover, some business sector employers continue to consider the GMAT scores of job applicants.
On the other hand, if you’re sure the program you’ll be applying to isn’t inclined towards the GMAT, you can consider taking the GRE. So, the first step is to get in touch with the MBA schools on your list and ask them what they would prefer.
Step 2: GMAT vs. GRE Structure and Scoring
GMAT and GRE have a lot in common. They’re both about three and a half hours long, computer adaptive, and designed to test your verbal, analytical, quantitative, and time-management skills.
However, the Quantitative Section of GMAT is considered tougher because of its data sufficiency and integrated reasoning sections. While the GRE tests pure math skills, memorizing mathematical concepts and performing mental math is not going to be sufficient for the GMAT.
The Verbal Section in GMAT places a higher value on grammar. In contrast, the GRE requires you to have a vast vocabulary and know-how to decipher context clues.
GMAT General Info –
The exam is clocked at 3 hours and 30 minutes. It consists of 4 sections –
- Analytical Writing – 1 essay in 30 minutes
- Quantitative Section – 36 questions in 75 minutes
- Verbal Reasoning – 36 questions in 75 minutes
- Integrated Reasoning – 12 questions in 30 minutes
The GMAT test is computer adaptive. This means that the difficulty of questions increases as you go on answering them correctly.
GRE General Info –
The GRE General Test lasts for 3 hours and 40 minutes. It is divided into 3 main sections –
- Analytical Writing – 2 essays in 60 minutes
- Two Verbal Sections – 40 questions in 60 minutes
- Two Quantitative Sections – 40 questions in 70 minutes
Apart from these, the GRE contains an unscored research section of 30 minutes. It can be either quantitative or verbal. Unlike the GMAT, GRE is section-adaptive. This means that if you did well in the first section, the second one is going to be tougher.
Another key difference between the two tests is that, in GRE, you can change your answers within a particular section. But the GMAT does not allow you to go back. You are not allowed to use a calculator when attempting the Quants Section in GMAT. And while the GRE allows repeat test takers to send their scores selectively, the GMAT reports all the past scores of an admission applicant.
Can you gauge which exam you might do better in?
Step 3: GMAT vs. GRE Score Comparison
If you’re not sure which one you’ll score more in, try both. No, this does not mean you have to actually take both the exams. Take mock tests for GMAT and GRE, instead. While you can access several practice tests online, we have prepared sample papers of both GMAT & GRE for you.
To compare your scores, you can use the ETS Comparison Tool as a benchmark. However, the administrators of both the exams use different tools and ETS (the GRE test taker) says that their tool does not make perfectly accurate conversions.
Another way to assess your results is this – stack your scores up with the rest of your profile. Do you need to indicate you’re exceptional at math and already have a good academic record in English? Or do you have to prove your verbal skills? Decide if you should give GMAT or GRE accordingly.
Step 4: See What’s on Your Plate
If you scored comparatively well in one, you know which exam to go for. If not, give yourself some time to get a feel for each test.
In case you’re still not sure, consider other factors of GMAT & GRE. Like how much each test costs, what’s the expense for sending your scores to a university, and if registration is available for a date of your preference.
To find out more details about the syllabus, scoring, reporting, and test registration for these exams, you can read our posts on the GRE and GMAT exams.
More than 1200 business schools now accept GRE. And the number continues to increase. However, only a small percentage of such schools express a clear preference for GRE. The fact that 80% of students applied at Harvard Business School with their GMAT scores go to show that GRE has only reached general acceptance among MBA schools.
So, if your target program doesn’t state a clear preference for GMAT or GRE, assume that GMAT is preferred. And if you wish to apply to non-MBA programs as well, the disadvantage in taking the GRE can be overcome by performing substantially better than you would in GMAT. The same stands true for those scoring better in GRE and keen on pursuing an MBA.
So, take your pick, figure out which areas you need to work on, and get to studying!
But understand – the test is just one part of your profile. Your academics, experiences, and extracurriculars will matter just as much.
Now, if you’re still confused about which courses will fit your profile, how to go about preparing for GMAT or GRE, when to give it, or what to do after you’ve taken the test, contact us. We, at iSchoolConnect, will help you from beginning to end. From finding the right program which suits your preferences, choosing the right university based on your scores, applying to these universities, and so much more!