GMAT Vs GRE: Which Should You Choose?
What’s the difference between the GRE and the GMAT? Should you take the GMAT or GRE for your MBA? How much does the GMAT vs GRE cost? Find out in our comprehensive guide to GMAT vs GRE
But what is the difference between the GRE and the GMAT? Which test is better for MBA candidates? And is the GRE easier than the GMAT?
The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), owned and administrated by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), is designed specifically for business school candidates and is the most widely-used exam for MBA admissions. More than 200,000 MBA and master’s candidates take the GMAT Exam each year.
The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), can be used to apply to a variety of graduate degree programs, including business and law. The GRE General Test is available at more than 1,000 test centers in more than 160 countries.
Both the GMAT and the ETS GRE help business schools assess your suitability for MBA and master’s programs, but do so in different ways.
In this BusinessBecause special feature, we give you a comprehensive breakdown of the differences between the GMAT vs GRE, covering exam structure, cost, test prep, and more.
Read on or skip to your section of interest by clicking the links below:
GMAT vs GRE Exam Structure
The GMAT Exam is 3 hours, 7 minutes long, and you can take advantage of two optional eight-minute breaks. The current version of the GMAT Online Exam is 2 hours, 45 minutes long and excludes the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA).
The GRE exam is 3 hours, 45 minutes in length both online and in a test center. You get a one minute break between each section of the exam until the third section, when you get an optional 10 minute break.
The GMAT Quantitative Reasoning section tests your ability to analyze data and reach conclusions using reasoning skills. You have to demonstrate your knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, and geometry, though advanced math skills are not required.
GMAT Verbal Reasoning tests how you read and understand written material and evaluate arguments given in a passage. GMAT Sentence Correction questions test your grammar and language proficiency requiring you to present the best way of constructing a sentence.
GMAT Integrated Reasoning evaluates your data and information analysis skills across multiple formats. You have to demonstrate the ability to integrate data to solve complex problems.
The Analytical Writing Assessment measures critical thinking skills and your ability to communicate ideas. The AWA requires you to analyze an argument’s line of reasoning and use of evidence.
You can choose to take the GMAT in three different orders. They are:
1. Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning
2. Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
3. Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
The verbal and quantitative reasoning sections of the GMAT are computer adaptive, meaning the test tailors the difficulty of each question based on your previous answers.
The GRE Analytical Writing section tests your critical thinking skills. You’re presented with an argument to analyze and asked to present your own coherent argument.
The Verbal Reasoning section tests your ability to analyze writing and understand the meaning of a text. You read passages and summarize the meaning of sections, sentences, and phrases. Words are omitted from passages and you have to make replacement suggestions which maintain the coherence of the sentence.
The GRE Quantitative Reasoning section consists of either independent, standalone questions or questions about a specific dataset, designed to test your ability to analyze quantitative information using arithmetic, geometry, algebra and data analysis.
Unlike the GMAT, the GRE allows you to revisit questions during the exam and you can choose to tackle each section in whatever order you prefer.
You are not allowed to use your own calculator for the GMAT or GRE math questions. You can however use a calculator provided to you throughout the GRE test.
For the GMAT, a calculator is provided for use during the Integrated Reasoning GMAT section only. For the GMAT Quantitative Reasoning section, you are provided with note boards and markers to work out your calculations.
GMAT vs GRE Scoring
GMAT test-takers receive one overall score between 200 (the lowest possible score) and 800 (the highest possible score).
Your GMAT score is based on your scores for the verbal and quantitative sections of the exam. These are graded between 0 and 60, although test-takers rarely score lower than 6 or higher than 51 on these questions.
The Analytical Writing Assessment and the Integrated Reasoning sections of the GMAT are scored separately and do not count towards your GMAT score out of 800.
Your AWA score is based on a single grading of your argument, between 0.0 and 6.0, graded at increments of 0.5. IR questions are scored between 1 and 8. IR questions usually have multiple components, and you must answer all parts in order to receive any credit.
GRE test takers come away with three different scores, one for each section of the exam. Verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning sections are scored between 130 and 170, in 1-point increments. The analytical writing score is scored between 0 and 6, in 0.5-point increments.
The highest GRE score you can achieve is 360 for verbal and quant combined and 6 for analytical writing.
After your test, you also receive information about what percentile your score falls into, comparing your performance with recent test takers. If you fall in the 99th percentile on the GMAT, for example, you’ve typically performed better than 99% of test takers. GMAT and GRE percentiles data is recalculated each year using data from the previous three years.
Both GMAT and GRE scores are valid for five years. You’ll receive your official GRE score about 10 to 15 days after your test date. You’ll get your official GMAT score within 20 days, although you can view your unofficial score immediately after finishing the exam.
What is a good GMAT or GRE score?
When deciding what GMAT score to aim for, it’s worth assessing the class average GMAT and GMAT score range for your target schools.
Class average GMAT scores for the top MBA programs tend to be 700 or higher, although scores submitted by accepted MBA students tend to range from around 590 to 790.
This means both candidates with a 590 GMAT score and a 750+ GMAT score are often accepted into the same MBA class. Harvard's median GMAT score is 730, for example, but even Harvard Business School has accepted students with GMAT scores under 600 in the past.
You should take the same approach with the GRE. For the Harvard MBA, for example, the median GRE score for both quant and verbal is 163.
Test-takers globally record average GRE scores of 150.37 on verbal reasoning, 153.39 on quantitative reasoning, and 3.58 on analytical writing.