GRE vs. GMAT

GRE vs. GMAT: Which Test Should You Take?

The GRE and GMAT are standardized tests used for graduate school admissions. The GRE stands for Graduate Record Examination and is accepted by most graduate schools, including business schools. The GMAT, on the other hand, is primarily used for business school admissions.

Both tests measure students’ critical thinking, analytical writing, and problem-solving skills. The tests are computer-based and are administered in a standardized format, meaning that every student takes the same test under the same conditions.

The GRE consists of Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. The Verbal Reasoning section measures students’ ability to analyze and evaluate written material.

The Quantitative Reasoning section measures a student’s ability to solve mathematical problems. The Analytical Writing section measures students’ ability to articulate complex ideas effectively.

The GMAT consists of four sections: Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, and Verbal. The Analytical Writing Assessment section measures students’ ability to analyze an argument and communicate their ideas effectively.

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The Integrated Reasoning section measures students’ ability to analyze data and solve complex problems. The Quantitative section measures a student’s ability to solve mathematical problems, and the Verbal section measures a student’s ability to analyze written material.

Generally, the GRE is a more versatile test, as a wider range of graduate programs accepts it. However, if a student is specifically interested in pursuing an MBA, the GMAT may be a better option. Students need to research the requirements of the programs they are interested in to determine which test is best suited for their needs.

Exam Structure

Test Structure of GRE

The GRE consists of three main sections: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. The test also includes one unscored research section that can appear in any order after the Analytical Writing section. The total testing time is 3 hours and 45 minutes, including one 10-minute break.

The Analytical Writing section consists of two tasks: “Analyze an Issue” and “Analyze an Argument.” Test-takers get 30 minutes for each task. The Verbal Reasoning section has two 20-question sections; test-takers get 30 minutes to complete each section. The Quantitative Reasoning section also has two 20-question sections; test-takers get 35 minutes to complete each section.

The GRE is a computer-adaptive test, which means that the difficulty level of the questions in the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections adapts to the test-takers ability level. The computer selects the second section of each test based on the test taker’s performance in the first section.

Test Structure of GMAT

The GMAT has four main sections: Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Verbal Reasoning. The total testing time is 3 hours and 30 minutes, including two optional 8-minute breaks.

The Analytical Writing Assessment consists of one task: “Analysis of an Argument.” Test-takers get 30 minutes to complete this task. The Integrated Reasoning section consists of 12 questions; test-takers get 30 minutes to complete this section.

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The Quantitative Reasoning section has two 20-question sections; test-takers get 62 minutes to complete both sections. The Verbal Reasoning section also has two 20-question sections; test-takers get 65 minutes to complete both sections.

The GMAT is an adaptive test but section-level adaptive, not question-level adaptive like the GRE. This means that the difficulty level of the second section of each test adapts to the test taker’s performance in the first section.

Specific Sections Overview

Quantitative Reasoning

The quantitative reasoning sections of both exams test mathematical skills. The GRE quantitative section has two subsections, each with 20 questions. The GMAT quantitative section has one section with 31 questions. Both exams test arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis. However, the GMAT also tests problem-solving skills in business situations.

Verbal Reasoning

The verbal reasoning sections of both exams test reading comprehension, vocabulary, and critical reasoning skills. The GRE verbal section has two subsections, each with 20 questions. The GMAT verbal section has one section with 36 questions. Both exams test reading comprehension, sentence equivalence, and text completion. However, the GMAT also tests critical reasoning skills in business situations.

Integrated Reasoning

The integrated reasoning section is unique to the GMAT. It tests the ability to analyze and synthesize data from multiple sources, including graphs, tables, and text. The section has 12 questions that test data interpretation, sufficiency, and logical reasoning skills.

Analytical Writing

The analytical writing section is also unique to the GRE. It tests the ability to analyze an issue and develop an argument. The section has two tasks, one in which the test-taker must analyze a problem and another in which the test-taker must analyze an argument.

Scoring Mechanism

The scoring mechanism is one of the most significant differences between the GRE and the GMAT. The GMAT uses a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) format, whereas the GRE uses a section-level adaptive format. The CAT format of the GMAT means that the difficulty level of the questions adapts based on the test-taker’s performance.

If a test-taker answers a question correctly, the next question will be more difficult. The next question will be easier if a test-taker answers a question incorrectly. This means that the test-takers final score is based on the difficulty level of the questions they answered correctly.

In contrast, the GRE uses a section-level adaptive format. This means the difficulty level of the questions in the second section is based on the test taker’s performance in the first section.

The first section is of average difficulty, and the test-taker’s performance in this section determines the difficulty level of the second section. The test-takers final score is based on the difficulty level of the questions they answered correctly in both sections.

The scoring range for the GMAT is 200-800, with increments of 10 points. The score for each section of the GMAT ranges from 0 to 60, with increments of 1 point. The scoring range for the GRE is 130-170 for each section, with increments of 1 point. The GRE score range for the Analytical Writing section is 0-6, with increments of 0.5 points.

Cost and Test Centers

There are a few factors to consider regarding the cost of taking the GRE or GMAT. The GRE costs $205, while the GMAT costs $250. However, it’s worth noting that some test centers may charge additional fees for things like rescheduling or changing your test date. In addition, some countries may have different pricing structures for the exams.

Both the GRE and GMAT are administered at test centers around the world. The GRE is offered in computer-based and paper-based formats, while the GMAT is only computer-based. Test-takers can search for test centers and available dates on the official websites for the GRE and GMAT.

In addition to in-person testing, the GRE also offers an online testing option. This allows test-takers to take the exam from home rather than traveling to a test center. However, it’s worth noting that specific technical requirements must be met to take the exam online. Test-takers can check their eligibility and learn more about the online testing option on the official GRE website.

Preparation for the Exams

Practice Tests

Taking practice tests is an essential part of exam preparation. It helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses and gives you an idea of what to expect on the exam: the GRE and GMAT offer official practice tests you can take online. Additionally, there are many third-party practice tests available that you can take for free or for a fee.

Test Prep

There are many test prep options available for both the GRE and GMAT. You can choose to study on your own using books and online resources, or you can enroll in a test prep course. Test prep courses can be expensive, but they can be worth the investment if you need the structure and guidance they provide.

Math Skills

The GRE and GMAT have a math section, so brushing up on your math skills is essential. If you are not confident in your math abilities, consider taking a math course or working with a tutor. You can also find many online resources and practice problems to help you improve your math skills.

Analytical Writing Skills

The GRE has an analytical writing section requiring you to write two essays. Practicing writing essays under timed conditions and getting feedback on your writing is essential. The GMAT does not have an analytical writing section but an integrated reasoning section that tests your ability to analyze and interpret data.

Vocabulary

The GRE greatly emphasizes vocabulary, so it is essential to build your vocabulary skills. You can use flashcards, read books, and take practice tests to improve your vocabulary. The GMAT also tests your vocabulary, but it is not as heavily emphasized as it is on the GRE.

GRE vs GMAT: Key Differences

Format

One of the biggest differences between the GRE and GMAT is the format of the exams. The GRE is a computer-based test comprising six sections: two verbal reasoning sections, two quantitative reasoning sections, one analytical writing section, and one unscored research section.

The GMAT, on the other hand, is also a computer-based test. Still, it consists of four sections: an analytical writing assessment, an integrated reasoning section, a quantitative section, and a verbal section.

Content

Another critical difference between the GRE and GMAT is the content of the exams. While both exams test verbal and quantitative skills, the GRE emphasizes vocabulary, and the GMAT focuses more on data sufficiency.

Additionally, the GMAT includes an integrated reasoning section that tests a student’s ability to analyze and synthesize information from multiple sources.

Purpose

The purpose of the GRE and GMAT exams also differs. While the GRE is accepted by a wide range of graduate programs, including business and law schools, the GMAT is primarily used for business school admissions.

Therefore, students only interested in applying to business school may want to consider taking the GMAT. In contrast, those who are undecided about their graduate program may want to take the GRE.

Choosing Between GRE and GMAT

Deciding which test to take, the GRE or GMAT, can be daunting. It is essential to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each test and how they align with your career goals.

The GMAT is the more commonly accepted test for business students. However, many graduate programs, including business and law schools, also get the GRE. If you are unsure which test to take, it is recommended that you research the specific requirements of the programs you are interested in.

One strength of the GRE is that it allows test-takers to skip questions and return to them later, while the GMAT does not. This can be helpful for those who want to prioritize specific questions or need more time to think through a complicated problem.

On the other hand, the GMAT’s Quantitative section focuses more on word problems, which can be challenging for some test-takers. However, the Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT tests data interpretation skills, which can benefit those pursuing a business career.

Application Process

The application process for both the GRE and GMAT is pretty similar. The first step is registering for the exam and selecting a test date. Registering for the exam at least two to three months in advance is recommended to allow sufficient time for test preparation.

Next, applicants should research the specific admissions requirements for their desired graduate program. Some programs may require only one exam, while others may accept the GRE and GMAT. It is essential to confirm which exam is required or preferred by the program before registering for the exam.

After selecting the exam and confirming the program’s requirements, applicants should begin studying for the exam. Both the GRE and GMAT offer study materials and practice exams to help prepare for the test. Studying for several months in advance is recommended to ensure adequate preparation.

On the exam day, applicants should arrive early to allow time for check-in and to become familiar with the testing environment. The exam itself is computer-based and consists of multiple-choice questions and essays.

After completing the exam, applicants can choose to send their scores to the desired graduate programs. It is important to note that scores are valid for several years, so applicants may take the exam multiple times to improve their scores.

Role in Business School Admissions

Business schools and graduate business programs widely accept the GRE and GMAT. However, the GMAT is traditionally associated with business school admissions and is often preferred by top-ranked MBA programs. On the other hand, the GRE is accepted by a wider range of graduate programs, including business schools.

While some business schools accept both tests, others may prefer one. Therefore, applicants need to research the specific requirements of the schools they are interested in and determine which test would best fit them.

Regarding content, the GMAT focuses more on quantitative and analytical skills, while the GRE has a more balanced approach to verbal and quantitative reasoning. This means stronger applicants in math and analytical skills may prefer the GMAT, while those who excel in verbal and writing skills may lean towards the GRE.

It is worth noting that some MBA programs may be more forgiving of weaker GRE scores, as the test is not as heavily associated with business school admissions as the GMAT. However, this should not be guaranteed, and applicants should strive to perform well on whichever test they choose.

Other Considerations

When deciding between the GRE and GMAT, there are a few other factors to consider beyond the differences in content and structure. Here are some other important considerations:

Career Goals

If you are sure you want to pursue a business career, taking the GMAT may be the better choice. However, considering other career paths, such as pursuing a Ph.D. or applying for a scholarship, the GRE may be the more versatile option.

Executive Assessment

If you are an experienced professional pursuing an Executive MBA program, you may be required to take the Executive Assessment instead of the GMAT or GRE. Be sure to check with the program you are interested in to see their requirements.

Research Section

The GRE and GMAT include an unscored research section to test new questions for future exams. However, the research section on the GMAT is optional, while the research section on the GRE is required. Keep this in mind when scheduling your test, as the research section adds 30-35 minutes to the GRE.

Score Validity

Both the GRE and GMAT scores are valid for five years. If you plan on applying to a program more than five years after taking the exam, you must retake the test.

Cost

The cost of taking the GRE and GMAT varies depending on your location and other factors. Be sure to check the current fees before registering for a test.

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