I know you have decided on furthering your studies on post-graduate levels, just as I also know that you are in the middle of an everyday dilemma: which to choose between the GRE and GMAT? Answers to questions of this nature mustn’t be determined by moods and emotions, grapevines and hearsays, but by carefully selected facts and a fair assessment of what makes one of the exams different from the other.
One of the reasons you are confused right now is due to the fact you see so many similarities between these two tests that you find determining which one you’re better suited for a herculean task. What are the standard features shared by the GRE and GMAT? Many! Both tests, for instance, have their scores valid for five years after the test, and they both consider necessary numerical skills and fluency in English fundamental criteria. Not only that. The two tests demand from you a mastery of critical reasoning skills, reading, geometry, arithmetic and algebra.
What’s more, both these two exams allow for rescheduling and are taken multiple times on multiple dates throughout each year. Now how do you which of these exams to prepare for? Perhaps a concise explication of each of them will assist.
Graduate Record Examination! It is a standardised test that is taken by candidates who wish to pursue post-graduate studies in colleges and universities all over the world. It is computer-based but also with the paper option. It lasts for 3 hours 45 minutes and is divided into three sessions: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Analytical Writing Assessment. The sole aim of this is to check what writing and critical reasoning skills that you possess. The GRE is scored on a scale 260-340, in 1-point increments.
Graduate Management Aptitude Test! This one is a computer-based standardised test that is taken by candidates who wish for post-graduate studies in business schools across the world. GMAT gives no room for the paper option. It lasts only for 3 hours 30 minutes and is divided into four sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Analytical Assessment Writing and Integrated Reasoning. You have the right to determine the order of these sections. The exam is scored on a scale 200-800, in 10-point increments.
Now we have established the fundamental differences between these two exams, but is that enough? I think not! A detailed list of the many disparities between these two exams will not be harmful, and that is precisely what the rest of this timely article will be dedicated to. Please note that these differences cut across the cost of the exams, structure/structure and how they are taken. Stay with me, dear reader.
- The GRE is Cheaper than the GMAT. The GRE costs $205 while GMAT costs $250. This might seem insignificant a difference, but it is one that matters should there be a need for financial reconsiderations. The GRE is offered in more locations too. The GRE is taken, every year, in places far more than the number of GMAT centres. The GRE controls 1000 exam centres in 160 different countries while GMAT is offered in 600 centres within 114 countries. This is because while GRE is open to consideration by different types of school, GMAT is restricted only to business schools. Another fundamental difference worthy of keen attention.
- The GRE, unlike GMAT, is accepted by types of post-graduate programmes with the inclusion of accredited business schools. This doesn’t mean, however, that all top business programmes get the GRE score. The GMAT, on the other hand, is strictly an exam for candidates aspiring for study furtherance in business schools and business schools alone, and the entrance test you need to take to apply for MBA courses. It is from this drawing line that several other differences take root. For instance, it is because of this difference that the GRE attract more candidates than GMAT, which makes sense: more candidates apply to post-graduate questions in general than business schools specifically. This fundamental disparity is, for instance, also the reason why business schools favour GMAT over GRE. Even the business schools that accept GRE do not consider it weighty enough to compete with the credibility of GMAT. Therefore, if you are still in the middle of deciding which business school to apply to, the GMAT is a surer bet than the GRE because its acceptance is no option for debates.
- Structurally, the GMAT is very different from the GRE and, as expected, this is as a result of the aforementioned fundamental differences:
the GRE verbal reasoning section is logical, while that of the GMAT is analytical. The GRE verbal reasoning happens to be very keen on vocabulary assessment. At the same time, that of GMAT primarily checks your understanding of the language as a whole, your critical Reasoning, communication skills and listening ability through selected passages and sentence correction questions. This is why the GRE is much harder than the GMAT in this section.
It is a common thing to see applicants complain of having to memorise a word list of sometimes more than a thousand words because vocabulary building is an undisputed determinant of a good score in the GRE. But the GMAT, on the other hand, does not demand such extremity; a panoply of an adept understanding of the English language would suffice for a good score.
This is why many non-English-speaking candidates consider the GMAT a more comfortable option than the GRE. And this makes sense: since the GMAT is concerned with producing individuals that would positively influence the business world, a good display of comprehension and communication skills is esteemed over a mere knowledge of strange words. However, the GMAT would save its own ‘iron fist’ for another crucial section!
The GMAT is a better option for you if you seek to demonstrate your math skills. Why is that? The level and quality of math questions on the GMAT are far much higher than the level and rate of math questions in the GRE. Many have concluded that the mathematics of the GMAT is a very difficult one, far more difficult than that of the GRE. And they make this claim for very objective reasons: it demands an improved accuracy in algebra, arithmetic and geometry; it is imbued with very many detailed word problem questions. Your approach to GMAT math must be very exact and systematic.
This makes a lot of sense too. You are looking for admission to a business school! You have to show that you have a proportional quantitative background. You are going to be dealing with cumbersome numbers for the rest of your life. It is only regular that you are heavily tested in that area. This is why your mathematical strength or weakness is also a determining factor of the test you eventually choose.
Analytical Assessment Writing
This section of the GMAT includes two other unique features that are absent in that of the GRE. These are Data sufficiency and the Integrated Reasoning section. Data sufficiency does not require you to find out the answer, but instead, it wants you to concentrate on satisfying the situations with the options. This section aims to examine your mastery in the art of solving problems by the method of elimination.
On the other hand, the Integrated Reasoning section judges how dexterously you integrated provided data in solving intricate problems. The Integrated Reasoning section is there to test your abilities to synthesise data provided in numbers, graphics and texts, examine relevant data from differing sources, organise data to see correlations ad to solve many more, interrelated problems, etc., etc.
The concern of your target business school is the development of future business leaders; your capability to make sound business decisions with a cumbersome quantity of information must be sufficiently tested. The GRE has an additional feature in its section of analytical writing too – Issue Task. This section requires you to construct your argument by taking a position and backing it up with strong points from the provided statement.
- While the GRE allows for the usage of a calculator during the exam, the GMAT does not. This is because GMAT questions require a sharp acumen in estimation abilities. You are an aspirant of a business school; you should be relied upon to make fast calculations in the absence of mechanical advantage.
- The GRE is computer-based but can also be offered on paper. This paper option is available only in the GRE, never the GMAT. With the GMAT, it is either the computer or no exam at all.
- As earlier mentioned, the differing scoring scale of these two exams is equally worthy of serious emphasis. The GRE is scored 260-340 while it is on a scale of 200-800 that the GMAT is scored. A breakdown of each scoring scale will make their differences more pronounced. For GRE, analytical writing is scored on a scale of 0-1, and Verbal Reasoning is scored on a scale of 130-170, quantitative Reasoning, too, is scored on a scale of 130-170, leaving the total score to be 260-340. This is not so with the GMAT. Its integrated Reasoning is scored on a scale of 1-8, and analytical writing scored on a scale of 0-6, verbal Reasoning scored on a scale of 6-51, quantitative Reasoning, too, scored on a scale of 6-51, leaving the total score at 200-800. An outstanding score on the GRE starts from 329 while on the GMAT, and an exceptional score starts from 710.
- Now, many questions have been asked on the matter of acceptability. Some have gone as far as claiming that Harvard University prefers the GMAT to the GRE, but that is not accurate. Harvard University has no preference for either exam. So many top business schools have explicitly and publicly made it clear that they harbour no choice between the GRE and the GMAT. But that the GMAT is often preferred and more accepted by most business schools is not an arguable position. And that is to be expected; the whole of the GMAT is an exam devoted to the future of future business leaders. However, I am not concerned about post-graduate acceptability, as I am about post-school acceptability. Management consulting firms, and sometimes technological companies tend to take the GMAT score as a more useful measure of aptitude. I know people who have enjoyed the benefit of the GMAT in this area. All this must be very carefully considered before deciding on which of the two tests to take.
I have not written this article intending to show which exam has more advantages than the other. Very much to the contrary! This is not to say that the GMAT has more benefits that the GRE or the GRE has more benefits than the GMAT, but to educate the reader on what must be included in their considerations before making a deciding choice. And why is this so important? Why is the knowledge of the differences between the GMAT and the GRE so crucial? The answer to that is simple. Understanding the differences between GRE and the GMAT erases all doubts in your mind regarding the one you are better suited for.
You know yourself; and your strengths and weaknesses. You will not just decide between these two exams, but also your confidence will improve because you now have a good knowledge of how to prepare for the exam of your choice. I congratulate you if you have read this article. It means you are on the right path to a fulfilling academic future.
The differences mentioned above are to help you know which of the test suits your purpose and goals. Because if you know what each of the exams is best for, you can easily pick which to go for. We hope this article has helped you achieve that, and that we have helped made that decision slightly easier.