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Suman Saurav

Updated on 01st March, 2024 , 6 min read

GMAT vs GRE: Which Should You take?

GMAT vs GRE: Overview

Many business schools consider GMAT and GRE test scores as admission criteria. Let us understand the difference between them and then you can decide which one is best for you. When you apply to a graduate business program, you may notice that many schools request test scores as part of their admissions requirements. Usually, you can submit your GMAT score or your GRE score.

In this article, we’ll understand the technicalities of each exam and how you can decide to take one test over the other—or neither—to succeed in your graduate program application.

GMAT vs GRE: Understand the Difference

The main difference between the GMAT and the GRE is that the GMAT is generally used for admissions to business schools, while the GRE is accepted for most graduate programs (including business and law schools). Besides these, the two tests differ when it comes to format, type of questions, and testing policies. Moreover, there are options for sending your scores to schools. 
Here's a quick comparison of the two exams: 




Accepted byMost graduate business programsMost graduate programs, including business
LocationOnline or at a testing centerOnline or at a testing center
Cost( US)$250 online or $275 in person (includes free score delivery to up to five schools)

$205 (includes free score delivery to up to four schools)


Length3 hours and 7 minutes, plus two optional 8-minute breaks3 hours and 45 minutes, plus one optional 10-minute break
SectionsAnalytical Writing, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, VerbalAnalytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning
Scores good for5 Years 5 Years 

What is the GMAT?

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) administers the GMAT. GMAT is an entrance exam used to get admission to business schools and MBA programs. The exam assesses logical reasoning and aptitude meant to show an ability to succeed in top graduate business programs. You can retake the GMAT at a testing center. You can do this up to five times in a rolling 12-month period.

You cannot take it more than eight times in total. The GMAT Exam Pattern depends on where you take the test. You are allowed to take the test at a testing center or online. The in-person format has four sections. You can choose to order them in one of three ways. Pick the way that best fits your capability and testing style.

Analytical Writing: This section of the exam judges your ability to analyze and write a critique of a given argument in one 30-minute writing task. Half-point increments from zero to six points are used to calculate scores. 

The Integrated Reasoning section is not found on the GRE. Testing your ability to use data to solve hard problems is its purpose. This part includes one 30-minute section with 12 questions (many choices). You’ll examine and analyze data from many sources. These include tables and graphs. You'll also solve both math and word problems. The score ranges from one to eight in one-point increments.  

Quantitative: This section is 62 minutes long and has 31 multiple-choice questions. Questions include math problems. Some questions ask if you have adequate data to answer a given question. Points are awarded in increments of one, from six to fifty-one. 
The Verbal Reasoning section lasts 65 minutes. It has 36 questions. They assess your ability to read, understand, and write. You'll find three types of questions: reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction. Score this from six to 51 points in one-point increments.

You can read the detailed GMAT Eligibility. Also, you can read the Selection Procedure. 

You can use a basic online calculator. It is only during the Integrated Reasoning section. You can use a whiteboard for the Quantitative Reasoning segment. For at-home testing, you can use your own. For the testing center, they provide a laminated notebook and dry-erase markers. In the GMAT exam, you are not allowed to skip and return to questions or change your answers. 
You also get your unofficial scores just after taking the GMAT online, as of May 2021. 

What is the GRE?

The GRE is owned by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). GRE is used as an admissions requirement at several graduate schools, including business and law schools. The exam evaluates your verbal and quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and critical writing skills.

The GRE may be retaken up to five times in a rolling 12-month period.. This means once every 21 days. If you take the exam more than once, you can decide which score gets sent to the schools to which you’re applying. 
GRE Format

The GRE is divided into three scored sections in addition to an experimental or potentially unscored section. The Analytical Writing section always comes first, but you will not know the order of the remaining sections or which section is unscored.

Analytical Writing: There are two distinct, timed, 30-minute writing assignments in this part. You need to write your own critical analysis on an issue. You also need to check someone else's argument on the same issue. This section scores in half-point increments ranging from zero to six.

The Verbal Reasoning test has two 30-minute sections. Each has 20 questions. You’ll find three types of questions in this section. They are reading comprehension, text completion, and sentence equivalence. One point increments from 130 to 170 are possible for your score.

This part of the exam tests your Basic Math. It has two 35-minute sections with 20 questions each. Questions might have many choices. They might have one or several answers. They might also be numeric entry questions or quantitative comparison questions. Data analysis, mathematics, geometry, and arithmetic are among the subjects covered in the questions. You can obtain a score of 130 to 170 in one-point increments.

You are allowed to take an on-screen calculator during the Quantitative Reasoning section during the test. You can go backward and forward through each section. You can change your answers. You are also allowed to mark questions for “Review” if you’d like to return to them later. 

You can read here more about the GRE TEST. 

Which is easier, GMAT or GRE?

Understanding which test will be easier for you will depend on many factors. Your academic strengths and testing style can help you decide the best for you.

The quantitative section on the GRE is slightly easier than the GMAT. The GRE section generally has more questions of geometry, while the GMAT asks more questions of logic and reasoning.  The GRE verbal section, on the other hand, features more difficult vocabulary than the GMAT. A good number of test-takers find the GMAT verbal section easier. 

Should You Take the GMAT or GRE? 

Most business school applicants choose the GMAT over the GRE. But, many schools accept GRE scores for admissions. You can take the test that suits your own academic capabilities. Here are a few things to consider as you make the decision that’s right for you. 
Consider different graduate programs or keep your options open. A wider variety of degree programs accept the GRE. When you’re sure about business school, taking the GMAT is a great way to justify your dedication. Schools accept either score. But, you should check their requirements ahead of time. If you can, ask an admissions representative if they prefer one test.

You are good at math, and not so good at words? The GMAT might let you show off your math skills. If you’re a skilled writer, you can consider the GRE. The GRE can be hard for non-native English speakers. This is due to the vocabulary.

Testing style: The GRE structure lets you jump around and review your answers if that's how you want to work. This might give some test takers good confidence. 

Practice exam performance can help you determine which test you’re best suited for. You should take a practice test for each. Take them under the consideration of the actual exam as possible. Once you take and score your exams, you’ll have a good idea of which you feel more suited to. You can decide which scores you want to send to schools. For the GMAT exam, schools get all your scores. A lot of programs only consider the highest score.

Some companies, such as investment and business consulting firms, ask for GMAT scores. They do this to learn about career goals. If you have specific employers in mind, research their requirements ahead of time. You could avoid taking the GMAT during your job search if you take it before attending business school. Read about the GRE Exam Fee in India. 

GRE Accepting Universities  

Earlier, potential MBA students did not have any choice other than GMAT, but now, even the top-graded schools accept GRE scores. Below, there is a list of leading GRE-accepting universities in the world.

  • Stanford University 
  • Duke University 
  • Harvard University 
  • New York University (NYU
  • Yale University 
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)  

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most important difference between GMAT and GRE?

The most important 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.

What is GMAT?

The GMAT is a standardized test that you submit with your MBA application. It has three sections. You can score anywhere between 205 and 805 in 10-point increments. You can take the GMAT exam year-round. You can take it up to 5 times in a year and 8 times in a lifetime.

What is GRE?

The GRE is a test that you submit for many graduate programs. It has 5 sections. You can score anywhere between 130 and 170 in 1-point increments.

Can I submit my GRE score to business schools?

You can submit your GRE score to business schools. Yet, some business schools only accept the GMAT score. Applying with a GMAT is better. Most applications must do it. It makes it easier for business schools to compare you.

What is a good GMAT score?

A good GMAT score is at least 20 points above your school's average GMAT score. Learn in detail what is a good GMAT score.

Does Harvard prefer GRE or GMAT?

Harvard Business School is one of the leading business schools in the world that accepts GRE and GMAT scores. The major focus of this institution is to encourage students to take the test that demonstrates the abilities of students in the best manner.

Which amongst the GRE and GMAT is hard to crack?

Some students believe the GMAT math section is harder than the GRE. But, for some test takers, the verbal section of the GRE may be more difficult. But, the difficulty of both exams can differ. This depends on a person's talents and limitations in each part. Both tests check the abilities needed for grad school. They are crucial to getting into many grad programs. The difficulty of the tests depends on how well-prepared each candidate is. It also depends on how well-suited they are to the material on each exam.

What is the difference in the exam patterns of the current version of the GMAT and GREs?

The current version of the GMAT exam consists of an Analytical Writing Section (AWA) with 1 essay. It also includes sections on Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Integrated Reasoning. The GRE exam consists of an Analytical Writing Section with 2 essays, 2 Verbal sections, 2 Quantitative sections, and an experimental section. Both the exam scores are valid for 5 years.

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