GMAT vs. GRE: Which is better for Your MBA in 2019?
Last updated on September 4th, 2019
Are you a prospective MBA student? Not sure if B-schools prefer the GMAT or the GRE?
Now that many B-schools accept both the GMAT and the GRE, you must be wondering which exam to take.
In this article, we will address all your concerns and help you figure out which test to take for your MBA admissions.
Here’s what we will discuss:
- What is the difference between the GMAT and the GRE?
- Should You Take the GMAT or GRE for Your Admissions?
Let’s get to it!
1. What is the difference between the GMAT and the GRE?
Let us break down both the tests and give you a detailed comparison. First, let us look at
A. Differences in the GMAT and GRE Test Structure
The Verbal sections on the GRE and GMAT test similar skills such as comprehension, grammar, and critical thinking.
For Quant, although the topics are somewhat similar, what GMAT expects from you is slightly different from what the GRE expects. We will get to that in a bit.
On the GMAT, your composite score can range from 200 – 800; on the GRE, your range is 130 – 170 per section.
The scores of the 3 sections on the GRE are reported separately, while the GMAT composite score takes only the Verbal and Quant scores into account.
B. Differences in the GMAT and GRE [General Points to Consider]
Take a look at this infographic to find out more specific details that are important to consider when making your decision.
Now that you have a general overview of both the GMAT and the GRE, let us understand what these exams need from your end!
C. Differences in Preparation Needed for the GMAT and the GRE
Here’s a GMAT vs. GRE analysis of the Verbal section:
The three question types in the GMAT Verbal section are designed to test specific skills.
a. Sentence Correction tests how well you operate within the parameters of given rules and context.
b. Critical Reasoning gives you some data to see how good you are at drawing appropriate inferences from it.
c. Reading Comprehension gives you a chunk of data and poses questions to test your skill of filtering out the information required to answer them.
Now, of course, you’ll need to have basic knowledge such as the rules of sentence construction to answer these questions correctly. But simply knowing the rules will not be enough — you have to be able to consider the context and know what’s expected in that context.
The overall common pattern between all three question types is that they are examining your reasoning skills.
In comparison, the GRE Verbal section is much more reliant on your vocabulary. Its Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence questions make up the majority of the section.
Both these question types are highly confusing unless you have a nuanced understanding of English vocabulary. In both these question types, the answer options are often nearly synonymous, which makes it highly tricky to find the right answers.
While the GRE Verbal section also has Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning questions, they make up a small part of the section. They are also marginally less challenging than their GMAT counterparts.
Now, let’s look at a GMAT vs. GRE analysis of the Quant section:
The objective of the different question types on GMAT Quant is similar to the objective of some GMAT Verbal question types. Here’s how:
a. Arithmetic and Geometry-based questions do with mathematics what Sentence Correction questions do with grammar. They check if you know basic rules and test how well you can apply your knowledge in a given context.
b. Data Sufficiency questions are like Critical Reasoning questions. They give you limited data and see if you can make valid inferences based on what you know.
Once you draw these parallels, you can see that GMAT Quant isn’t really about how good you are at math. It’s mainly about how sound your reasoning skills are, but you need to have a hold over the basics of math to do well. You need to be able to interpret data that is put across to you in different formats such as charts and tables.
GRE Quant is a whole different ball-game, in comparison. The main focus of GRE Quant is not on your ability to analyze information. It’s focused, instead, on your knowledge of the rules of mathematics and your ability to crunch numbers.
In short, the objective of the overall GMAT is to test your reasoning skills based on fundamental knowledge.
The objective of the GRE, on the other hand, is to test the strength and depth of your knowledge itself. These traits are seen in the Verbal as well as the Quant sections of both these exams.
Now, let’s address the critical question for you in the next section.
2. Which Test Should You Take?
The way we see it, if you are pondering this question, you must be in one of these three categories:
a. Fresh Graduates
As a fresh graduate, you have had this question on your mind a lot. You might be thinking of going the Master’s way or the MBA way. But you have no idea which test you should take.
In that case, we would suggest that you get a clear idea of what you want. If you think you want an MBA, you can narrow down the list of prospective Business schools you should apply to.
One factor that can help you decide which test you should take is to see which test your top schools prefer. If they require GMAT scores, then take the GMAT.
As a fresher, if you’re looking to go for an MBA due to its core courses and not the specializations, you may have another set of options. If you’re set on getting an MBA to help you enter managerial positions, then it makes sense for you to take the GMAT.
You will have two options if you take the GMAT:
- If you have less than one year of work experience, you can apply for MBA programs immediately through deferred admission programs.
- The other thing you can do is wait and gain work experience for a few years, and then apply to B-schools. Since your GMAT score will remain valid for five years, you can apply anytime within 5 years of taking the test.
But most B-schools require you to have work experience to get into an MBA program. So, if you don’t have the work experience for an MBA, consider getting a different degree in management instead.
For example, you could look into the MS in Information Management program at the W.P. Carey School of Business. MiM programs are designed specially to combine business and data management. These programs require GRE scores — not all of them accept GMAT scores. So, again, check out your options and see which scores your preferred programs accept.
b. Switching from the GMAT to the GRE
You are someone who took the GMAT, but you did not manage to get the best scores. Now you are wondering if you will be luckier with the GRE.
What we would want you to ask yourself is this:
Did you give GMAT your best shot?
If you didn’t, then you should realize that even with the GRE, you are tested on similar skills of logic, critical reasoning, time management, etc. The GRE is demanding and is going to put you under a lot of pressure. To put it simply: the GRE will not help you if your problems are the same as the problems you faced while taking the GMAT.
If you think you are more comfortable with English vocabulary rather than English grammar, the GRE could be your friend. So go ahead and take a practice test to see how well you do and find out if GRE can work out for you.
c. Switching from the GRE to the GMAT
If you’re looking to switch from GRE to GMAT, you need to consider how good your GRE scores are in the first place.
You probably took the GRE when you were in college, but you’re now considering an MBA from a top school like ISB.
Switching over to the GMAT is a great idea if you want to apply to B-schools because they tend to have a preference for GMAT scores. GRE scores are converted to their GMAT equivalents through the ETS score comparison tool when your application is being processed. This is because B-schools consider reasoning skills to be a critical trait, and that’s exactly what the GMAT measures.
Just keep in mind that a score of 326 on the GRE will convert to a GMAT 700. So, if you have a 326+ score on the GRE, you can go ahead and apply. But if you have a low GRE score, we recommend that you take a GMAT practice test to see how well you fare. If you do well, you can simply switch over to taking the actual GMAT test.
As mentioned before, the GRE tests the strength and depth of your knowledge more than your reasoning whereas the GMAT tests your reasoning abilities based on your knowledge. So, while preparing for the GRE, your main challenge is to expand your knowledge. But when you switch to the GMAT, your challenge will be to improve your question-solving techniques.
Although the number of schools accepting the GRE is rising, you must keep in mind that not all B-schools accept GRE for MBA. Make it a point to check if the schools you want to apply to accept GRE scores for MBA before you choose which test to take.
Overall, even though B-schools certainly have a preference for the GMAT, you can get in via the GRE as long as the schools you are interested in also accept the GRE.
We hope this article has helped you take your situation into account and choose an exam that will suit your purposes. If you have any questions or need help with your applications, simply drop a line in the comments section. We will be happy to help you out.