GMAT or GRE: Which should you take?

07 January, 2023

GMAT or GRE: Which should you take?

While applying to a graduate business degree, you will often find the option to submit either your Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) score or your Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score.

The key difference between the GMAT and GRE is that GMAT is typically required for business schools, while GRE is applicable to most graduate programs (including business and law).

In this article, we’ll give you an overview of both GMAT and GRE, so you can decide which options is better for you.

GMAT: Overview

GMAT is a standardized entrance exam widely used for admission to business schools and MBA programs. It is conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council and takes three and a half hours to complete. The test is computer-based and includes sections on Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning, and Analytical Writing.

GMAT is computer-adaptive, which means that questions become tougher as you respond correctly and easier as you answer incorrectly. The first question in both the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections is of average difficulty. The complexity of the questions changes with respect to your performance.

In a rolling 12-month period, you may retake GMAT at a testing facility up to five times (but no more than eight times in total). For the GMAT online exam, you are allowed only one retest.

GMAT online test costs $300 with the option to send your scores to up for five schools, while GMAT offline test costs $275.

GRE: Overview

Until 2006, GMAT was the only test accepted by Business Schools for the MBA program. However, in 2006, Stanford GSB and Berkeley Haas determined that one test does not fit all and began accepting GRE scores. Today, GRE is a widely accepted application test for MBA admissions.

GRE, conducted by the Educational Testing Service, is designed to assess your Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning, as well as Analytical Writing Skills.

You can retake GRE once every 21 days and up to 5 times in a 12-month period.

GRE is computer-adaptive; thus, the first section of each category is of average difficulty, and the difficulty level of the subsequent section is determined on the basis of your performance in the previous section. The design is user-friendly, allowing you to skip questions within a part, go back and edit answers, and choose which questions within a section to answer first.

GRE test costs $205 and provides free score delivery to up to four schools.

GMAT or GRE: Which test should you take?

Among business schools, the longest trend of expressing commitment has been through GMAT. In 2006, however, B-Schools such as Stanford GSB and Berkeley Haas started to accept GRE for MBA applications. For decades, even when both GRE and GMAT were accepted, most schools preferred GMAT and reserved admission through GRE only for exceptional or strikingly remarkable students.

GRE is currently a widely accepted application test with over 1,300 business schools accepting the exam, including Wharton, Kellogg, and LBS; for instance, 29% of the HBS Class of 2023 had a GRE score, up from 22% the year before.[1]

INSEAD is one of the B-schools that has been hesitant in accepting GRE and prefers GMAT instead. Given that, you must first check the requirements of your desired university while choosing between GRE and GMAT. Also, GMAT is the pre-requisite condition for some companies, thus taking GMAT before business school may save you time while job hunting later.

Most Indian test-takers find the Verbal Reasoning section of GMAT and GRE challenging. The GRE Verbal Reasoning section tends to be difficult as it involves advanced vocabulary, whereas the GMAT Verbal Reasoning section tests you a lot on logical reasoning. The quantitative section of the GRE is comparatively easier. Further, GRE structure lets you skip and re-read answers, which may be less stressful for some test takers.

Finally, take a practice exam to determine which test is ideal for you. Take them independently under timed conditions. A thorough analysis of your mock test performance will help you decide which test to take.

Get started with IMS Learning for GMAT and GRE and our consultants will help you determine the course of action for you, on the basis of your profile and academic goals.

[1] Source: 5 MBA Admissions Trends Over The Last Decade, Poets & Quants, 2022.

Author –

Dipti Pal

Head, Admission Consulting



Ilika M

Editor, Admission Consulting



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