Looking to pursue an MBA program but unsure whether to take GMAT or GRE? You’re not alone. Many prospective MBA candidates face this dilemma when considering which test to take for admission to business school. So, what’s the difference between GMAT vs. GRE, and which one should you choose for your MBA program?
- The GMAT focuses on business skills; the GRE tests wider academic abilities.
- Many MBA programs accept both GMAT and GRE scores.
- GMAT and GRE vary in format, difficulty, and scoring.
The biggest difference between GMAT and GRE is that the GMAT is used for business school admissions, whereas the GRE is used for admission to a series of graduate programs. Therefore, most people would tell you- 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.
The advice is partially true. Choosing between the two requires a more in-depth analysis of their individual sections, differences in design, structure, scoring system, fees, and the number of business schools accepting them.
In this article, we compare GMAT and GRE on these six key parameters and examine the quantitative and verbal sections of both tests to provide insights into which test might be easier for you. We will also show the comparison between New GMAT focus edition & the New Shorter GRE.
- 6 key differences – GMAT vs GRE
- What are the major differences between New GMAT Focus Edition and New Shorter GRE?
- GMAT vs GRE – Which is easier?
- GRE vs GMAT – Which test’s Verbal section is easier
- GRE vs GMAT – Which test’s Quant section is easier
- Do business schools prefer GMAT or GRE? – GMAT vs GRE for MBA
- Which exam should you take? GMAT or GRE
- FAQs – GMAT vs GRE
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6 key differences between GMAT and GRE
The biggest difference between GMAT and GRE is that the GMAT is used for business school admissions, whereas the GRE is used for admission to a series of graduate program. A simple rule of thumb, which is true to a large extent, is that if you want to do an MBA, take the GMAT, and if you’re still confused about which master’s degree you want to earn, take the GRE. However, many business schools have started accepting both GMAT and GRE. So, which one will you choose and how will you decide?
Here are 6 key differences between GMAT and GRE:
- Test Fees
- Number of business schools accepting them
- Test duration
- Design of the test
- Test structure
- Scoring system
Let us look at each of these parameters one by one:
- Test Fees: The GMAT costs $275, while the GRE costs $220.
- Number of Business Schools Accepting Them: While most business schools prefer GMAT scores, many now accept GRE scores as well.
- Test Duration: The GMAT is 3 hours and 7 minutes long, while the GRE is 3 hours and 45 minutes long.
- Design of the Test: The GMAT is specifically designed to test skills relevant to business and management studies, while the GRE is a more generalized test that covers a wider range of subjects.
- Test Structure: The GMAT has a fixed structure with four sections (Analytical Writing, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, and Verbal), while the GRE has six sections. The AWA section appears first, and the rest of the sections can appear in any order (Verbal Reasoning, Unscored, Research, Quantitative Reasoning, and Experimental).
- Scoring System: The GMAT is scored on a scale of 200-800, while the GRE is scored on a scale of 130-170 for both Verbal and Quantitative sections, with a separate score for Analytical Writing.
Look at the table below, which compares GMAT and GRE on various parameters
|Should you take GMAT or GRE?||If you plan on getting into business schools graduate programs||If you are still undecided about the type of graduate program you wish to attend|
|Which business schools accept these tests||More than 7000 programs at 2300 business schools||Fewer business schools|
|Test Validity||5 years||5 years|
|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|
What is the GMAT Focus Edition?
GMAC has recently announced a new version of the GMAT test called the GMAT Focus edition, started from November 7th , 2023. While the current version of the test will be available till 31st January 2024.
The recent introduction of the GMAT focus edition by GMAC has made the test more relevant in assessing the skills required in the new business world. If you are planning to apply to a business school, let us help you conquer the first step of the process: Acing the GMAT
Take a FREE GMAT mock test to understand your baseline score and start your GMAT Focus prep with our free trial. With access to 10+ hours of AI-driven video lessons and 400+ practice questions, we provide a comprehensive resource for your GMAT Focus preparation. As the most reviewed online GMAT Prep company with 2600+ reviews on GMATClub, we’re committed to helping you succeed.
What is the Shorter GRE?
Read this article to know all about the New Shorter GRE, started from September 22, 2023.
Differences between New GMAT Focus Edition and New Shorter GRE
The introduction of the GMAT Focus Edition and the shorter GRE represents significant shifts in the graduate admission testing landscape, aiming to offer candidates more convenience and reduce test-taking fatigue.
The GMAT Focus Edition is a trimmed down version of the regular GMAT, lasting for 2 hours and 15 minutes and consisting of three sections: Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Data Insights. On the other hand, the shorter GRE is an under-2-hour test comprising three sections: Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Analytical Writing.
The major change in the new GMAT is the introduction of a new section called Data insights. This new section is designed to test candidates’ ability to analyze and interpret data, which has become increasingly critical in the rapidly evolving business world. Thus, GMAT seems to have made itself more relevant in testing the skills required of MBA aspirants in the new business world.
Take a look at this table highlighting the major differences between the New GMAT Focus edition, Shorter GRE, Current GRE, and the current version of the GMAT:
- QR- Quantitative reasoning , VR- Verbal reasoning , DI – Data Insights , AWA- Analytical writing , IR- Integrated Reasoning
|Parameters||GMAT Focus Edition||Shorter GRE||Current GRE||Current GMAT|
|Test Duration||2 hours 15 minutes||1 hour 58 minutes||3 hours 45 minutes||3 hours 7 minutes|
|Number of Sections||3||5||7||4|
|QR- 2 Sections
VR -2 Sections
AWA- 1 essay
|QR – 2 Sections
VR- 2 Sections
AWA- 2 Essays
Unscored – 1 Section
|Section Duration||All 3 sections
45 mins each
|QR (2 Sections of 47 mins total)
VR (2 Sections of 41 mins total)
AWA (1 essay of 30 mins)
|QR (2 sections of 60 mins total),
VR (2 sections of 70 mins total)
AWA (2 essays of 60 mins total)
Unscored and Research- (Varies)
|Number of Questions||Total 64 Questions
QR – 21
|QR – 27
VR – 27
AWA -1 essay
|QR – 40
VR – 40
AWA – 2 Essays
Unscored and Research sections (Varies)
|Total 80 Questions
QR – 31
VR – 36
IR – 12
AWA -1 Question
GMAT vs GRE – Which is easier?
When it comes to the overall difficulty level of the GMAT and GRE, both exams are similar. The correct question to ask at this point is which section of both the tests (quant and verbal) is relatively difficult.
To answer this question, let’s compare:
- GMAT verbal vs GRE verbal
- GMAT quant vs GRE quant
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GRE vs GMAT – Which test’s Verbal section is easier
|Number of Verbal Sections||1||2|
|Number of Verbal Questions||36||40 (20 questions in each section)|
|Duration||65 minutes||60 minutes (30 minutes per section)|
|Sub-sections||-Reading comprehension||-Reading comprehension|
|-Critical reasoning||-Text completion|
|-Sentence correction||-Sentence equivalence|
|Score Range||0-60 (scaled score)||130-170|
GMAT Verbal vs GRE Verbal
The emphasis of the GMAT verbal section is on grammar and reasoning, whereas GRE verbal questions primarily focus on testing your vocabulary. Let me illustrate this difference with one example each for GRE and GMAT exam
Text completion example of GRE
Vain and prone to violence, Caravaggio could not handle success: the more his (1)__________ as an artist increased, the more (2)__________ his life became.
|Blank (1)||Blank (2)|
*To know the correct answer, scroll to the end of the article
Sentence Correction question of GMAT
Some anthropologists believe that the genetic homogeneity evident in the world’s people is the result of a “population bottleneck”—at some time in the past our ancestors suffered an event, greatly reducing their numbers and thus our genetic variation.
(A) at some time in the past, our ancestors suffered an event, greatly reducing their numbers
(B) that at some time in the past our ancestors suffered an event that greatly reduced their numbers
(C) that sometime in the past our ancestors suffered an event so that their numbers were greatly reduced
(D) sometime in the past, our ancestors suffered an event from which their numbers were greatly reduced
(E) sometime in the past, that our ancestors suffered an event so as to reduce their numbers greatly,
*To know the correct answer, scroll to the end of the article
GMAT Verbal vs GRE Verbal – Which is easier?
As GRE verbal tests challenging vocabulary, GMAT Verbal tends to be slightly easier.
GRE vs GMAT – Which test’s Quant section is easier
|Number of Quant Sections||2 (Quantitative and Integrated Reasoning)||2|
|Number of Quant Questions||31||40 (20 questions in each section)|
|Duration||62 minutes||60 minutes (30 minutes per section)|
|Score Range||Quantitative: 0-60||130-170|
GMAT Quant is considered to be harder than GRE Quant. GMAT Quant tests your problem-solving skills. Also, the data sufficiency questions in the GMAT are quite challenging.
Even though GRE quant questions are easier than GMAT, GRE allows you to use a calculator, and GMAT does not.
Do business schools prefer GMAT or GRE? – GMAT vs GRE for MBA
Although many business schools claim that they do not have any preference regarding GMAT or GRE scores, more than 90% of applicants include the GMAT score. Why is that?
There are 3 reasons:
- The GMAT is designed to test skills that MBA admission committees use to assess candidates, to determine not only who can get into the MBA program but also who can successfully complete it.
- Taking the GMAT can provide business schools with insight into the clarity of your career goals. In contrast, since the GRE is accepted for various graduate programs, admission committees may question how committed you are to pursuing a business graduate program.
- Most business schools are familiar with comparing GMAT scores among applicants and are more comfortable interpreting GMAT scores than GRE scores. It is possible that business schools may convert GRE scores to GMAT-scaled scores to compare all applications.
Virginie Fougea, associate director of admissions, INSEAD, France
No minimum GMAT/GRE. Average GMAT: 703.
The GMAT exam is designed specifically by business schools for business school applicants. Over the years, we have been able to get a good understanding of the test results and how they can help us predict the academic capacity of our applicants.
We accept the GRE primarily for applicants based in countries where the GMAT test is not offered.
Which exam should you take? GMAT or GRE
Before starting the GMAT or GRE preparation ,here are the 4 steps to help you decide which exam to take – GMAT or GRE:
- Learn your target Business School’s policies on scores
- Take a diagnostic test for GMAT and GRE
- Decide on the type of graduate program you want to attend
- Compare the value of GMAT and GRE after graduating
Learn the policies of your target business schools on GMAT and GRE scores.
Research whether your target business schools accept both exams or prefer GMAT over GRE. Here are the policies for business schools on GMAT vs. GRE.
Take a diagnostic test
Take a free GMAT diagnostic test and an official GRE diagnostic test to identify your strengths and weaknesses. If you perform better on one test than the other, you have your answer. If you decide to take the GMAT, check the 5-year trend of GMAT scores for top business schools and set your target score accordingly. Also, here are the average GRE scores of top business schools.
Gain clarity on the graduate program you want to attend
Numerous graduate programs, ranging from literature to quantum physics, accept GRE scores, while only business schools accept GMAT scores. If you are clear about joining a business school, take the GMAT. If you are still unsure and want to keep your options open, take the GRE.
Consider the value of the GMAT after completing your graduate program
The information provided in this article will help you decide which test to take, GMAT or GRE. In my opinion, if you are targeting business schools, go for the GMAT. A high GMAT score can help you get admitted to your target business school and secure a job.
Planning to take the GMAT?
If you are planning to take the GMAT, we can help you with a personalized study plan and give you access to quality online content to prepare for both Classic GMAT & GMAT Focus Edition. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are planning to apply to a business school, let us help you conquer the first step of the process: Acing the GMAT.
Take a FREE GMAT mock test to understand your baseline score and start your GMAT prep with our free trial. With access to 10+ hours of AI-driven video lessons and 400+ practice questions, we provide a comprehensive resource for your GMAT preparation. As the most reviewed online GMAT Prep company with 2600+ reviews on GMATClub, we’re committed to helping you succeed.
PS – Here are the answers to the two questions asked in this article:
Text completion answer of GRE
- Blank 1 – eminence
- Blank 2 – tumultuous
GMAT sentence correction answer:
- option (B) – that at some time in the past, our ancestors suffered an event that greatly reduced their numbers
FAQs – GMAT vs GRE
The most significant difference between GMAT and GRE is that the GMAT is used exclusively for business school admissions whereas the GRE is used for a wide variety of graduate programs.
GMAT is a standardized test that you submit with your MBA application. GMAT has four sections and you can score anywhere between 200 and 800 in 10-point increments. GMAT can be taken round the year and you can take it a maximum of 5 times in a year and 8 times in a lifetime.
GRE is a standardized test that you submit for a plethora of graduate programs. There are 3 sections in the GRE and you can score anywhere between 130 and 170 in 1-point increments.
You can submit your GRE score to business schools. However, there are business schools that only accept the GMAT score. Applying with a GMAT is certainly better because majority applications come with a GMAT and it becomes easier for business schools to objectively compare you. Learn more in this article.
A good GMAT score is one that is at least 20 points higher than the average GMAT score of the latest incoming class of your target business school. Learn in detail on what is a good GMAT score.