Should I Take the GRE or GMAT?

Written by Talha Omer

September 11, 2013

Over the last year and a half (since the GRE got revised in 2011) many prospective students have asked one very important question; should I take the GRE or GMAT? It is common for students to go through this dilemma. There exists a prevalent confusion when it comes to deciding which of these two tests will help increase the chances of getting into a top business school.

My answer is that if you are only looking at business schools and specifically MBA then GMAT must be your preferred test. This is mainly because it has been solely designed for business schools and all B-schools have been accepting the GMAT for decades now. Moreover the number of schools which are accepting GRE is still very less; most of top 30 programs do not accept GRE still.

Prior to GRE’s revision in 2011 only 14% of business schools accepted GRE in lieu of GMAT. But post 2011, over 60% have started taking the GRE scores as well. But still the number of top programs taking the GRE is still very low and there is always a matter of confusion whether GRE will be considered an equally credible as GMAT has been since decades.

There are plenty of things that could help you to decide which test to take. Below are some important points which can help you out:

GRE and GMAT Format

GRE – Graduate Record Examination: GRE test evaluate students in four areas:

• Analytical Skills
• Critical Skills
• Verbal Reasoning
• Quantitative Reasoning

These areas are tested under three sections: analytical skills, verbal skills and quantitative reasoning. The test consists of two 35-minutes quantitative sections and two 30-minute verbal sections and two 30-minute analytical sections. This test is available in both computer and paper format.

GMAT – Graduate Management Admission Test: This test evaluates students in four areas:
• Verbal ability
• Quantitative ability
• Integrated Reasoning
• Analytical Writing

There are four sections in this test and a student is tested in all areas equally. The GMAT paper consists of a 75 minute verbal section, a 75 minute quantitative section, a 30 minute integrated reasoning and a 30 minute analytical section.


Although cost will not be a key decision factor but as a matter of knowledge you should know that the GRE test costs approximately $100 less than GMAT.

Difference between Quantitative section of the GRE and GMAT

A pool of members consisting of physicists, philosophers, engineers and artists etc. creates the GRE exam. On the other hand, people possessing a strong quantitative background design the GMAT. So, we can clearly expect that math questions tested on the GMAT will be much more difficult compared to the GRE math section.

Moreover, the GRE scoring algorithm allows you to score really high even if you skip, miss out or incorrectly answer a couple of questions. On the contrary if you want to score very high on the GMAT you will have to be very precise in answering most of the questions correctly – especially difficult ones.

On the GRE all questions carry the same weightage but on the GMAT you get more points for answering a difficult question. So, if you doubt you mathematical skills, taking the GRE test is a better idea.

Difference between Verbal section of the GRE and GMAT

If you are weak in mathematics, you can simply opt for GRE. However, sections like verbal also play an important role in scoring well. The GRE is much more difficult on the verbal ability than the GMAT. On the GRE you will be required to know a lot of arcane vocabulary. On the GMAT you are not required to know much words though a basic level of vocabulary is still expected. On the GRE, 50% of the exam tests vocabulary.

GMAT has a sentence correction section, where you have to correct the sentence with grammatical mistakes. GMAT paper tests your grammatical skills via logical reasoning and sentence correction. If you have strong grammar skills, then opting for a GMAT test would be much better.

Keep options open

Even if you are not very sure about the business school, going for GRE will not hurt you. GRE is now being accepted by many B-school’s around the globe. While GMAT test is only considered for taking admission in business school, GRE can help you to take admission in other graduate school, along with business schools. Although the GMAT test is still the most renowned test and a golden standard for the top B-schools, if you also want to keep options open then GRE should be a viable test.

Final Words

If you still have doubts, you can check with your preferred college on the scores which they consider for admission and then you can take time to analyze yourself. A few schools have communities to help new students who want to take admission in their school. You can also consult them and provide them all the useful information like which subjects you are going to take. Generally students who try for business schools opt for GMAT test and if you are that focused then only take the GMAT.

If you are still stuck in a tough situation and have no idea as to which test to take, the only thing that you can do is to take both the tests and analyze your results. Both GRE and GMAT have free downloadable software that can run on your computer. Just download them and check in which test you are scoring high. This will surely help you to decide.

All the Best!

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Hi Talha,
    I have been out of studies for about two years now, and I plan to give my GRE soon as I wish to apply in Fulbright program 2014.
    Can you kindly tell me how long should I give to prepping? I am currently working full time, and like I said have been away from studies for 2 years.
    What would you suggest?

    Many thanks,


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