Recently several of my GRE and GMAT preparation students in Lahore have started to ask questions regarding which test to take for admissions to graduate programs in the U.S. Many of them are so confused that they decide to take both – which of course is not a great idea given that these tests are extremely challenging. If you are in a similar position and are not sure about the difference between GRE and GMAT then this post will be beneficial for you.

The basics about GMAT and GRE

Both the GRE and the GMAT are standardized tests necessary for admissions to majority of the graduate programs in the U.S. The GMAT is specifically required by the Business Schools and similar to the GRE, it has two major portions – Quantitative/Math and Verbal/English section. The GMAT is scored out of 800 whereas the GRE is scaled out of 340.

The biggest dilemma that many Pakistani students have regarding the GMAT and the GRE is whether both are acceptable by all graduate programs. Unfortunately the GMAT is not accepted by any non-business program and hence cannot be used instead of the GRE. In short if you are not applying to a business program, you should never take the GMAT.

However recently more than 60% of the business schools have started accepting GRE in place of the GMAT. But still I would suggest that you should take the GMAT if you are applying to such majors since it is a better indicator of how you would do in a B-school.

Which one is more difficult – GRE or GMAT?

In my experience of helping students with the GRE and the GMAT, I have concluded that the GMAT quantitative part is much more difficult than the GRE. Especially the data sufficiency question type on the GMAT can create a lot of problems for even those with good mathematical skills.

On the contrary the GRE is more complex and difficult as far as the verbal section is concerned. To do well on the GRE verbal you will have to learn many new words and then apply them on various question types such as sentence completions and equivalence. Those who hate learning tons of new words in a short amount of time will not love the GRE verbal.

On the other hand the GMAT verbal is more suited for those with logical minds who can search for grammatical errors in a conglomeration of words. The sentence correction question type is more suited for people who are familiar with the basics of the language.

Which test should I take?

I just mentioned that unlike the GMAT, many top business schools such as Harvard are now accepting the GRE. However not all B-programs do that. My advice is that before you decide which test to take, do a thorough research of all the business schools you wish to apply to. Make a list of all the universities you are going to make an application to, then inquire from each one of them regarding their policy on accepting the GRE.

If you are lucky and all of them do accept GRE in lieu of the GMAT, then my suggestion would be to take the GRE only if you want to apply to several non-business graduate programs. For instance many of my GRE and GMAT students want to keep several options open for them – therefore they plan to apply to 5-6 business schools and 5-6 other graduate management programs such as engineering management etc. If you are one of them then it would be better to go for the GRE since you will save yourself money and hassle of preparing for the GMAT.

In case you are only applying to the business schools then GMAT is my top priority and recommendation for you guys.