If this is the question you’ve been asking yourself for a while now, don’t feel silly about it. You’re not the only one asking this question. Thousands of students in different locations are also asking this same question and the internet is replete with all kinds of answers for this one issue, both the good, the bad, and the ugly. We have tried to answer this question for you in the most objective, down-to-earth way possible and you can trust our analysis here because, as you’ll find out, it is a product of hours of deep, serious research. We do not take your academic success lightly and so a small thing as in depth research can never get in the way.
Anyway, the question remains…
The truth is that GMAT isn’t the only exam in the game now. She used to be the belle of the ball with all eyes on her but with the increasing acceptance of the GRE too, students these days are beginning to have more options. Last we checked, over 1,200 top business schools now accept the GRE too, of course there are still the obstinate ones who would not spare the GRE a second glance but they’ll soon adapt, we bet you. The GRE is here to stay. This does not remove the GMAT as the boss of MBA admissions, though. Business schools and employers still favour the GMAT a whole lot more, however, the GRE is also gaining ground fast.
After studying our analysis, whatever test you decide to take will be entirely up to you. We advise you pick the exam in which you can score your highest, and which complements other elements of your application package. Especially if you’re a recent graduate, scoring high on either test will not be a problem when applying for admissions at all (we will explain this in detail later).
Comparing the GMAT and the GRE
Now, we will proceed to give you a comparison of both tests, pointing out their benefits and challenges to help put things in perspective. While a lot of “counselors” might tell you that any is fine, only mentioning that the GMAT is tougher, this analysis goes beyond test structures, to the real-life situation of things and how the cookie crumbles in the street. So tighten your belt and get a writing pad and pen and get ready to count the costs.
GRE: Comes with 6 sections taken in a total of 3 hours 45 minutes
For those who will be taking the GRE on paper, you will not get the research section, rather you’ll have five extra questions on the verbal and quantitative with 5 extra minutes in the verbal, and none for the quantitative.
GMAT: Comes with 4 sections to be taken in a total of 3 hours 30 minutes
The verbal section is more vocabulary-focused
While GRE focuses on vocabulary mostly with a bit of logic, the GMAT is big on sentence structure and grammar, and requires a bit more logic than the GRE. The GMAT format might be a little harsh on non-native speakers of the language but with some effort, they should be able to learn the GRE vocabulary and their meanings. So, long story short, ye wordsmiths, walking, living, breathing thesauri and dictionaries, here’s your gig: the GRE. Natural editors, though, might prefer the GMAT.
There’s no disputing the fact, the GRE math section is way easier than the GMAT and even comes with a calculator for the quantitative. The GMAT, on the other hand, whew! It’s quite a tough one.
Now there is a reason for this though, it’s not that ETS is merciful and kind while GMAC is the wicked witch of the west, no. This is why: the GMAT is very streamlined when it comes to its target audience, it’s for those seeking to get into business school. So, normally the math has to be strong cos these people already have a strong background in math.
The GRE, on the other hand, is a lot broader in terms of target audience, graduates from literally all walks of life take the GRE, from historians to botanists. So, ETS has to take the different math backgrounds of these different fields into consideration when setting the math. This is why the GRE is ultimately kinder on the math than the GMAT.
So if math isn’t your strong suit, think GRE. However, bear in mind that you cannot run away forever. You’ll still meet tough math in business school. So you might want to consider taking some extra classes to bring you up to speed.
We know this is really good news to potential test takers because according to many who have had to attempt this section in the GMAT, it is tough! Tougher than math! And that is saying something, don’t you think?
The Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT is actually a combo of the tougher verbal with data interpretation, plus quantitative analysis. Yeah… we know, that’s cold. It contains 12 questions in all, scored on a scale of 0 – 6. And students swear that it is the toughest of all the sections on the GMAT put together.
Because the GRE is section-adaptive as against the question-adaptive style of the GMAT, you can afford to skip a question and come back to it later. But wait a minute, what’s section-adaptive and question-adaptive?
When a test is section-adaptive, it means that depending on your performance in the last section, the following section would be made either easier or tougher, such that if you did well, you get tougher questions next, and if you didn’t, you get easier questions next. You should be able to figure out what a question-adaptive test is now, can’t you? Just substitute “section” for “question” wherever you find it in our definition, and you’re good.
So anyway, because the GRE is section adaptive, you can apply all the tips and tricks you learned during practice to beat time so that you can have some extra time at the end of the section to go through your answers and double-check.
Not so for GMAT, since it is question-adaptive, it always needs your answer to every question immediately in order to determine the level of difficulty of your next question. And, of course, you don’t have all the time in the world, so quite a number of students end up guessing which is never the best.
Unlike the GMAT, the GRE has wider applications across different fields. So even if tomorrow you change your mind about going to business school, you can still use your GRE score (which is valid for five years just like the GMAT) to apply for a different programme.
Taking the GRE costs $195 while the GMAT costs $250. While this might not be a big deal to some, it’s a gargantuan deal to others and let’s not forget that sometimes, people retake these tests, so “money matters” makes a pretty strong case for the GRE.
The GRE has many more test centres than the GMAT
Well, this is because it has more test takers than the GMAT, so normally, you shouldn’t have to cross seven mountains and seven seas to take your test; quite unlike the GMAT that has fewer test takers and a corresponding lesser number of test centres. Most times, people have to travel a ways to take the GMAT test but that rarely happens on the GRE, there’s almost always a test centre close to you.
Now here are the challenges with the GRE...
Even if you’re a fantastic writer, you have to consider that you’ll be racing against the clock and when time is pursuing you, anything can become tough. Non-native speakers of the English language might also find writing two essays against time a huge challenge too.
Yea, we know we mentioned it as an advantage before but it also presents a challenge. You see, the GRE vocabulary is not normal everyday lingo, it’s hardcore tertiary words. Words you’re so not familiar with which you have to memorise and understand before test day, and trust us, they aren’t few.
GMAT, on the other hand, is sentence structure, and grammar. Especially for those who have been working for some years now and haven’t seen the flaps of a book for a while, you might find it comparatively difficult to start cramming new words as compared to learning general techniques to approaching sentence structure and grammar.
It is still quite unknown what the average GRE score required for MBA admissions is because the acceptance of GRE by business schools is still relatively new. So you have to either score really high and be rest assured, or you might have to keep contacting the school to find out. The GMAT on the other hand has been around for a while and so its value among stakeholders is well known. Business schools world over have their average scores for admissions into an MBA programme.
Well, there are no consequences in the negative sense of the word but it sure translates to a number of things.
Firstly, if you score high on either test, you’re covered, however, if you pick the GRE over the GMAT, some schools will require you to explain the reason for your choice at the interview level.
If you’re a young graduate, fresh out of school, this might be easier on you as the admissions committee might understand that you’re trying to keep your options open. However, those with some years of working experience might come off as unfocused and unserious if they present a GRE score instead of a GMAT because the committee will expect that, having worked for a while, you should have a clearer picture of where you’re going to and direct your efforts accordingly.
The GMAT without a doubt. Now listen, it’s not that the GRE does not attract scholarships but a GMAT score weighs heavier. Because so many people apply for scholarships, the scholarship sponsors need a way to sift through the mass of applications, and GMAT scores are just way easier to go with.
GRE scores are also considered as we told you, but then, the scholarship committee tends to now put the weightier focus on other aspects of your application instead of your GRE score. This means that if you’ll be presenting a GRE score, then other parts of your application must be solid: GPA, essay, work experience, personal achievements, etc.
In the U.S, a GMAT score is quite relevant when it comes to employment opportunities. A lot of recruiters especially from banking and finance, and consulting, check for GMAT scores, specifically your score on the quantitative section before inviting applicants for an interview.
They need to do this in order to cut down on the number of applications they receive. Remember the economy is not what it used to be and thousands can apply for the same job in the same company so you won’t blame recruiters for using every means possible to cut down on the crowd.
And the integrated reasoning that a lot of people shy away from is integrated (no pun intended) into the selection process in many HR departments in management consulting and investment banking, especially for students from B-schools.
So, in essence, if you hope to end up in any of these sectors, you might be better off taking the GMAT from the get-go, except you intend to take it as a student.
Our analysis should have given you a wealth of information to help in your decision making but if you’re still not sure, then do the following:
Deciding which of the two tests you should take for your MBA admissions isn’t too confusing anymore, is it? We’re so glad we could be of help. Like we told you, we’re committed to seeing you soar academically. It’s what we live for! So, pick up that form and begin your journey to fulfillment. And may the force be with you. Lol. Till next time, toodles!
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