GRE vs. GMAT: Which One is Better; What’s Your Pick?

Both GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) need no introduction. Anyone who wants to go abroad for higher studies knows that the scores of tests like GRE/GMAT/SAT is one of the components for selection and a very vital one at that. Of course, which test you need to take depends on the course you have opted for. While GMAT is for Management studies, GRE is for other streams. Now you must be wondering if both are meant for different purposes, why a comparison between the two. Is a comparison possible at all? 

Well, the good news is (and it is for the GMAT students alone…apologies for that) many business schools are now considering GRE scores too for admission. Now, isn’t that amazing! But then the bad news is, not all B-Schools do that. Which means, you need to figure out which one your school prefers and if it does consider GRE scores, what are the cut off points? Before getting into that lets take a look at what you need to consider to decide which of these two tests you should opt for.

The Similarities And The Differences:

If you look at it casually, both the GRE and GMAT are largely similar. The math level is not too difficult. There is quite a bit of reading comprehension in both and there is also an essay writing part at the beginning of the test. The scores of both these tests are valid for 5 years. But if you look closely, there are notable differences. GMAT is more expensive and is a computer adaptive test, while GRE is slightly less expensive and a computer based multi-stage test. In some locations, even paper based test is permitted. Besides, GRE tests more of your vocabulary while the quantitative section in the GMAT is challenging. So, if vocabulary is your forte, consider taking the GRE for better scores and if Maths is your area of strength, you must opt for GMAT.


If at the start you are not sure what course you will opt for, GRE is a safe bet. But if you have set your mind for B-School, do your research well. Ask around; browse the Websites of all the B-Schools that fall into your list of preference and check to see what the admissions committee of those schools want. It is possible that some B-Schools may accept a GRE score but would rather that you submit GMAT scores. You don’t want to mess up in the end. So start your research early.

What’s Your Comfort Zone?

If numbers don’t intimidate you and you’re comfortable with them, GMAT is a safer bet. It’s

true that both the GRE and GMAT test on high school level math, yet the questions of the quantitative section in the GMAT are word problems and the reasoning section tests your data interpretation skills. According to the Kaplan Website, “GMAT is more forgiving in the way it is scored– to get a high score on the GRE, you need to get practically every question right, whereas you can get many high difficulty GMAT questions wrong, and still get a comparably high score. “ if you take the test that falls within your comfort zone, you’ll automatically perform well. Ultimately, scores matter, don’t they? So, you would want to take the test that could guarantee a better score, right? How would you test where your comfort zone lies? By taking a sample /mock test of both to assess where you stand. Besides, you need to look up the scores of Top B Schools of the last five years to understand the scores that B-Schools prefer. Based on that. you need to fix the score that you must aim for.

Admissions Review Process:

Admissions review process change every year. So it is important to look up the admission review of a particular school in the year when you are sending in your applications. For instance, some B Schools may accept either the GRE or the GMAT scores and may put more weightage to the academic achievement at the undergraduate level while considering waivers. Some, on the other hand may use the ETS comparison tool to put the final score in perspective. There are many sources online that will help you search the admission review process of the B-School you have shortlisted. These may seem trivial but sometimes may become vital causes for rejection. So, being aware right at the start and preparing in accordance is the smart way to work your way. 

Between August and November in 2019, Kaplan Test Prep conducted a survey among 156 MBA programs to find out which among GRE and GMAT is most preferred. 93 percent said they allowed students to either submit the GRE or the GMAT scores. And regarding their preference between the two, 88 percentage gave equal weightage to both while 12 percent agreed that GMAT takes were certainly at an advantage. 

What Does It Reflect About Your Interests?

GMAT is designed in such a way that helps admission committees to assess accurately not only who can get into an MBA program but who can effectively get through it as well. Besides, when you submit a GMAT score, the committee understands that your goals are very clear. Since GRE is accepted everywhere, they may wonder if you submit the GRE score about your genuine interest in the program. 

Test Anxiety

A comparatively, less important reason but one that cannot be ignored is the test pattern. GRE allows a test taker to skip and return to a question in each section and correct errors if any in the course of the test. This is not possible in GMAT. So, those who tend to panic and get anxious often find the GMAT tougher psychologically. Students like it when they can skip difficult questions and come back to solve it within the given time in a test. That way they tackle easy questions first and it is a morale booster.

These discussions boil down to three points that might help you decide on whether to take the GRE or the GMAT. 

  • Shortlist the programs and business schools you wish to send applications to. Research accurately to understand whether the B-Schools you’ve chosen accept both GRE and GMAT scores or either of them. If they accept both, make sure you know very clearly if they give more weightage for GMAT scores over GRE.
  • Take a diagnostic test to assess where your strengths lie—is it verbal or quantitative? You have your answer there. Make sure you know at the start what scores to aim for to get you where you want.
  • Many will not tell you this, but many consulting firms in the US give more priority to those candidates who have top GMAT scores. So, in that sense GMAT helps you even after your MBA program is done. It could land you not just in your dream school but a dream job as well. 

By now, you must be reasonably clear in your mind. The next step then is putting it into action. Good Luck!

Janaki Sreenivasan

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