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.
Some of the links included in this article are affiliate links for The Graduate School Site. For example, we frequently reference The Princeton Review's "Better Scores or Your Money Back Guarantee." If you make a purchase through one of these links, then we will get paid a small commission for the transaction. This commission will not increase your price for the service.
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.
If you find this article helpful, then you should check out Magoosh’s GRE blog. They regularly post tips for getting a better GRE score, guides for deciding between the GMAT and the GRE, and other very useful information.
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.