There seems to be some confusion about whether it is better to take the GRE test or the GMAT test when applying to graduate school. How should you make the decision of GRE vs. GMAT?

Hopefully, we can clear up some of that confusion here.

What is the GRE?

The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE test) is administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS). The test is a requirement of many graduate school applications around the world. It is also accepted by some MBA programs, but most of them required the GMAT test.

After taking the GRE, you will receive three scores:

  • Analytical Writing – An essay section scored 0-6 in 0.5 point increments.
  • Verbal Reasoning – A multiple choice section scored from 130-170 in 1 point increments
  • Quantitative Reasoning – A multiple choice section scored from 130-170 in 1 point increments

You will also receive percentile rankings for each of these scores, which allows you to compare your scores with the rest of the GRE test takers around the world.

Who takes the GRE?

Over 500,000 people take the GRE test every year. Most of those test-takers are in the United States (~300,000 tests) but there are also large GRE test taker populations in China (~45,000 tests) and India (~100,000 tests).

Most of the test takers were 30 years old or younger (89%).

The GRE general test-taker population is split evenly between men (45%) and women (50%), but you can see that the gender split varies widely depending on the intended graduate school major (see table below).

The table above comes from the GRE Worldwide Test Taker Report – July 2013 – June 2016 published by ETS.

What is the GMAT?

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). The test is required by most business school applications.

One difference between the GMAT and the GRE is that the GMAT can only be used for business school applications. The GMAT test has traditionally been the only test option for business school applications, but recently many of them have started accepting the GRE test too.

After taking the GMAT test, you will receive 5 scores:

  • Verbal – A multiple choice section scored from 1-60 in 1 point increments
  • Quantitative – A multiple choice section scored from 1-60 in 1 point increments
  • Analytical Writing Assessment – An essay section scored from 0-6 in 0.5 point increments
  • Integrated Reasoning – A multiple format section scored from 1-8 in 1 point increments
  • Combined GMAT score – Created from your Verbal and Quantitative scores. The combined score can be between 200-800 in 1 point increments.

Your scores will also include percentile rankings, so you can see how you compare to GMAT scores worldwide.

Who takes the GMAT?

About 250,000 people take the GMAT test every year. The largest group of test-takers are in the United States (~80,000 tests) but there is also large GMAT test take populations in China (~70,000 tests) and India (~30,000 tests).

The average age of a GMAT test taker is 25 years old.

The GRE general test-taker population is split evenly between men (55%) and women (45%) worldwide, but that split varies significantly from country to country. Test takers in the United States are 61% men and 39% women, while in China the split is 33% men and 67% women and in India the split is 70% men and 30% women.

What is the difference between the GRE and the GMAT tests?

Brett from Dominate the GRE put together a clear and concise video that explains the differences between the GRE and the GMAT tests. You can watch the video below.

When would taking both the GRE and the GMAT test make sense?

You probably do not need to take both the GRE and the GMAT.

The GRE test and GMAT test are intended for different types of graduate programs. The GMAT is only useful for an application to a business school program. The GRE is allowed for some business school applications, but most programs still prefer the GMAT test.

If you are undecided on whether you want to get your MBA or another graduate degree, then taking both tests might make sense for you. Spending the time, energy, and money to take both tests is a pretty big investment in being undecided, so don’t make that decision lightly.

GRE vs. GMAT: How Should You Decide?

Some business schools accept the GRE test (you can see the complete list here), but the GMAT is the preferred test for almost all MBA program applications.

Do you want to have the strongest possible business school application? Then take the GMAT test.

If you are having a difficult time getting the GMAT score you need, then you could take a GRE practice test and see how you do.

The GRE’s math sections are generally considered easier than the math sections on the GMAT, while the verbal sections are considered more difficult than the GMAT verbal sections. If you are struggling with the GMAT math sections, then the GRE could be advantageous for you.

Study Resources for the GRE and the GMAT tests

Many of the GRE and GMAT online prep courses also offer trial periods and free review resources such as practice tests and sample review courses. If you are looking for ways to improve your GRE or GMAT scores, then these free resources might be a helpful next step.

*Some of the links listed below are affiliate links for The Graduate School Site, which means that I will get paid a commission if you purchase something using the link. This commission will not increase your price for the service.

GRE Review Resources – Free Trials, Practice Tests, and Review Classes

Dominate the GRE – Free GRE Session

Magoosh GRE Prep – 7 Day Free Trial

The Economist – GRE Tutor – 7 Day Free Trial

Barron’s – GRE Test Prep – Free Basic GRE Prep Account

The Princeton Review – GRE Test Prep – Free GRE Practice Test

Manhattan Prep – Free GRE Practice Test

GMAT Review Resources – Free Trials, Practice Tests, and Review Classes

Dominate the GMAT – Free GMAT Session

Magoosh – GMAT Prep – 7 Day Free Trial

The Economist – GMAT Tutor – 7 Day Free Trial

Barron’s – GMAT Test Prep – Free Basic GMAT Prep Account

The Princeton Review – Free GMAT Practice Test

Manhattan Prep – Free GMAT Practice Test

Looking to Upgrade Your Grad School Efforts?

Check out our Resources page. The resources include helpful websites, books, and proven study tools to give you every advantage in your graduate school program.

4 Online Graduate School Communities

4 Online Graduate School Communities

Everyone needs help sometimes. The best place to get that help is from other people going through your same situation.

I’ve listed here some of the most popular online communities for graduate students, with the hope that you can find some people to connect with.

7 Excellent Writing Manuals for Graduate Students

7 Excellent Writing Manuals for Graduate Students

Writing is hard.

Learning how to write persuasively in the style that is required by your discipline is even harder.

Your ability to write well is one of your most valuable skills, so don’t be afraid to grab the tools and resources you need to develop it further.

3 Highly Effective Test Prep Services

3 Highly Effective Test Prep Services

Applying to graduate school is stressful.

One of the worst parts is the standardized test you will have to take as part of the application process.

How do you prepare for these tests so you will get the best score possible?

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