GMAT vs. GRE

Written by Kelly Granson. Posted in MBA Admission

confused-characterThe GMAT and the GRE are very similar exams. Both are designed to assess your verbal math and writing abilities and both exams are administered in the Computer Adaptive Testing format. Furthermore, statistics show that, increasingly, top tier business schools are accepting GRE results as an alternative to the GMAT. That being the case, the question begs to be asked: Why, according to a recent survey, fewer than 16 percent of business school applicants even consider taking the GRE?

This question is further compounded by the fact that the GRE is a slightly easier exam than its flashier, more business oriented counterpart. The GRE is a general post-graduate admissions exam. It's intended for those applying to graduate schools ranging from engineering to social work. The quantitative section of the GRE is simply not as challenging as on the GMAT. After all, aspiring English professors don't have to know advanced functions as well as future project managers. While the ETS (Educational Testing Service), the company that makes the GRE, says it's working to modify their quantitative sections to make them more comparable with the GMAT, for now the situation remains as is.

Two additional factors that would seem to make the GRE more attractive to aspiring MBA students are cost and accessibility. The GRE is less expensive to register for than the GMAT (about half the price) and, the exam is offered in more locations. Taking all this into account, you'd think that students short on cash and/or living in remote areas would jump at the chance to take an easier and cheaper form of the GMAT...Perhaps they should?

Well, according to recent findings, students applying to business schools have good reason to think twice before taking the GRE. The GRE would only be a desirable option if indeed it is equal to the GMAT in the eyes of school admissions committees. The fact is, another survey has recently found that students have a slightly better chance of being accepted into the MBA program of their choice if they're flashing GMAT results as credentials as opposed to GRE scores.

'Slightly' is an ambiguous term. But when one considers just how entrenched the GMAT has been as the leader in testing for MBA admissions, it's safe to say that in this case slight = significant. Therefore, to answer our question:

We can conclude that based on these surveys, the perception among MBA candidates is that the GMAT is more highly touted than the GRE, even if the latter is more widely accepted on applications than ever before. Moreover, looking at the surveys tells us that this perception is firmly grounded in reality; solid GMAT scores give you the inside track for getting into top MBA programs.

The GMAT is very challenging. One bright spot in all these findings is that those who are struggling to reach their target score on GMAT practice tests have an alternative in the GRE. If you happen to be in this situation and you've double checked that the school you're aiming for accepts GRE results, why not give it a try? See if you can meet the GRE percentile that's demanded of you and send in the results. In this case, the better score will likely have more bearing than the actual exam you ended up taking.

Now, for those who are confident with their GMAT prowess there's no need to look elsewhere unless of course you're operating on a very tight budget. The GMAT is still the kingpin of the MBA admissions world and doesn't look like it'll be dethroned any time soon. Even with all the difficulties it presents, staying on the path of GMAT success still gives you the best chance to catch the big fish. And in the hyper-competitive GMAT pool, you need all the chances you can get.

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