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GMAT vs GRE: Know Which Test you must take?


Numerous graduate business programs offer the flexibility of accepting either GMAT or GRE test scores as part of their admission criteria. It's important to understand the distinctions between these two exams in order to determine which one suits your needs when applying.

Differences between GRE and GMAT

The primary distinction between the GMAT and GRE lies in their typical usage: the GMAT is commonly employed for admission to business schools, whereas the GRE is widely accepted across various graduate programs, including those in business and law. Apart from this, the two tests differ in their format, question types, testing regulations, and score submission choices for institutions.

Here’s a quick comparison between both the tests:


Accepted by

Most graduate business programs

Most graduate programs, including business programs

Where to take?

Online or at a testing center

Online or at a testing center

Cost (USD)

$250 online or $275 in person (includes free score delivery to up to five schools)

$205 (includes free score delivery to up to four schools)


3 hours and 7 minutes, plus two optional 8-minute breaks

3 hours and 45 minutes, plus one optional 10-minute break


Analytical Writing, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal

Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning

Scores valid for

5 years

5 years

What is GMAT exam?

The GMAT, which is administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), serves as an entrance examination widely utilized for gaining admission to business schools and MBA programs. This assessment assesses one's reasoning and critical thinking capabilities, demonstrating their aptitude for success in prestigious graduate business programs.

Regarding retakes, individuals can sit for the GMAT at a testing center up to five times within a rolling 12-month period, with a total limit of no more than eight attempts. In the case of the GMAT online exam, a retest is permissible once.

GMAT Format

The GMAT format varies depending on whether the test is taken at a testing center or online. The in-person version consists of four sections, and individuals have the flexibility to arrange these sections in one of three sequences that align with their strengths and testing preferences.

Suggested: GRE Syllabus 2023 - 2024 - Exam Pattern, Question Types & Updates

  1. Analytical Writing: This section of the exam requires the analysis and critique of a provided argument within a 30-minute writing task. Scores for this section range from zero to six points, with half-point increments.
  2. Integrated Reasoning: The Integrated Reasoning segment (unique to GMAT, not found on the GRE) assesses the ability to use data for solving complex problems. It includes a 30-minute section with 12 questions, primarily multiple choice. Test-takers are tasked with analyzing data from various sources, such as tables and graphs, and solving both quantitative and verbal problems. Scores in this section range from one to eight points, with one-point increments.
  3. Quantitative: This section spans 62 minutes and comprises 31 multiple-choice questions. It covers quantitative problems and "Data Sufficiency" questions, which assess whether sufficient data is available to answer a given question. Scores in this section can range from six to 51 points, with one-point increments.
  4. Verbal: The Verbal Reasoning portion lasts for 65 minutes and features 36 questions aimed at assessing one's ability to read, comprehend, and evaluate written materials. These questions encompass reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction. Scores for the Verbal section range from six to 51 points, with one-point increments.

[Read More: If you're not happy Consider retaking your GMAT scores]

During the Integrated Reasoning section, a basic online calculator can be used. For the Quantitative Reasoning segment, test-takers are allowed to utilize a whiteboard (for at-home testing) or a provided laminated notebook with dry erase markers (at a testing center) for problem-solving. Importantly, during the GMAT, individuals cannot skip questions and return to them or modify their answers once submitted.

What is the GRE?

The GRE, administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), serves as an admissions evaluation tool utilized by numerous graduate schools, including those offering business and law programs. This examination is structured to assess your verbal and quantitative reasoning abilities, critical thinking skills, and proficiency in analytical writing.

Regarding retaking the GRE, you can take it up to five times within any 12-month rolling period, with a minimum gap of once every 21 days between attempts. If you opt for multiple test attempts, you have the flexibility to select which scores are sent to your chosen schools during the application process.

GRE Format

The GRE consists of three scored segments, along with a potential unscored or experimental section. The Analytical Writing component always precedes the other sections, but the order of the remaining sections and the identification of the unscored segment are undisclosed.

Suggested: GRE Syllabus 2023 - 2024 - Exam Pattern, Question Types & Updates

  1. Analytical Writing: This segment includes two separately-timed 30-minute writing tasks. One task involves constructing your argument on an issue, while the other entails evaluating someone else's argument on a similar issue. Scores for this section range from zero to six, with half-point increments.
  2. Verbal Reasoning: The Verbal Reasoning assessment consists of two 30-minute sections, each containing 20 questions. Within this section, you will encounter three question types: reading comprehension, text completion, and sentence equivalence. Scores for Verbal Reasoning can fall within the range of 130 to 170, with one-point increments.
  3. Quantitative Reasoning: This portion of the exam, assessing fundamental math skills, comprises two 35-minute sections, each featuring 20 questions. Question formats may include multiple-choice with single or multiple answers, numeric entry questions, or quantitative comparison questions. Topics encompass arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis. Quantitative Reasoning scores can range from 130 to 170, with one-point increments.

Throughout the test, you have access to an on-screen calculator during the Quantitative Reasoning section. You can navigate backward and forward within each section, modify your answers, and designate questions for later "Review" if desired.

[Read More: GRE Test Preparation: Formulate the Perfect GRE score!]

Which is the easier choice, GMAT or GRE?

Determining which of these tests is more manageable for you hinges on your academic strengths and testing approach.

In the GRE, the quantitative section is generally perceived as slightly easier compared to its GMAT counterpart, and it grants you the use of a calculator. The GRE section typically involves more geometry questions, whereas the GMAT emphasizes logical reasoning.

On the flip side, the GRE's verbal section tends to feature more challenging vocabulary compared to the GMAT. Some test-takers find the GMAT verbal section to be somewhat more accessible.

Should I opt for the GMAT or GRE?

While the majority of business school applicants typically choose the GMAT, it's worth noting that many business schools accept GRE scores as part of their admission criteria. Therefore, you have the opportunity to select the test that aligns better with your academic strengths. Consider the following factors when making your decision:

  1. Academic Goals: If you are exploring various graduate programs or wish to keep your options open, the GRE is accepted in a broader range of degree programs. However, if you are certain about pursuing business school, taking the GMAT can demonstrate your commitment.
  2. School Requirements: Although many schools accept either score, it's advisable to check the specific admissions requirements of your target institutions. If possible, consult with an admissions representative to inquire if they have a preference between the two tests.
  3. Academic Strengths: If your proficiency in math outweighs your verbal skills, the GMAT may provide a platform to showcase your strengths. Conversely, if you excel in writing, consider the GRE. Due to its vocabulary component, the GRE can sometimes pose more challenges for non-native English speakers.
  4. Testing Style: If you prefer the flexibility to skip questions and revisit them later, the GRE format allows for this, which might instil greater confidence in some test-takers.
  5. Practice Exam Performance: One effective way to determine the test that suits you best is by taking practice tests for both exams. Complete those separately under conditions as close to the actual test as possible. Afterward, reviewing your scores will offer insights into which test you feel more comfortable with.
  6. Score Reporting: Keep in mind that with the GRE, you have the option to select which scores you send to prospective schools if you take the exam multiple times. In contrast, for the GMAT, schools receive all your scores, although many programs consider only the highest score.
  7. Career Goals: Certain companies, particularly those in investment and business consulting sectors, may request GMAT scores during the job application process. If you have specific target employers in mind, research their requirements in advance. Taking the GMAT before business school could potentially save you from retaking it during your job search.
  8. Executive Assessment: A Choice for Working Professionals

[How to: Plan for GRE or GMAT Test?]

If you are already immersed in your professional career and contemplating applying to business school to explore new job prospects and increase your earning potential, the Executive Assessment exam, introduced by GMAC, offers an alternative to the GMAT. Many business schools, particularly those considering executive MBA applicants, accept this assessment.

This exam is intentionally designed to be shorter in duration and necessitate less extensive preparation. These attributes make it an appealing option, particularly if you are juggling the demands of a career and family life.

Test Location: Available online or at a testing center

Cost (US): $350 (includes unlimited score reporting)

Duration: 90 minutes

Test Structure: The Executive Assessment comprises three sections: Integrated Reasoning (12 questions), Verbal Reasoning (14 questions), and Quantitative Reasoning (14 questions). The question types closely resemble those found in the GMAT.

Score Validity: Scores remain valid for five years.

You are allowed to take the exam twice, and you can choose which scores to send to your desired institutions.

Test-Optional Admissions: A Growing Trend?

Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic prompting changes in the college admissions landscape, some colleges and universities had begun eliminating standardized tests as a mandatory requirement. This shift in approach has persisted into 2022.

According to a GMAC survey encompassing over 265 business schools, 45 percent waived the requirement for GMAT or GRE scores in 2021 [1]. More than half of the top 100 MBA programs in the United States (as ranked by the business school news site Poets & Quants) are offering waivers for GRE and GMAT tests in 2022. Several institutions have embraced a permanent policy of test-optional admissions.

[Read More: Benefits of Taking GRE/GMAT Test Preparation]

To qualify for a test waiver, you may need to possess a certain number of years of professional experience or meet a minimum GPA threshold, with each school setting its own specific requirements.

Even if you are applying to a test-optional school, it may be prudent to consider taking an entrance exam nonetheless. Strong scores can serve as evidence of your academic aptitude and potentially open doors to scholarships. Should you choose to exclude your GRE or GMAT scores, ensure that you dedicate additional attention to other components of your application to make them stand out.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, some universities don’t make IELTS scores mandatory and some universities have waivers during admissions through which you can enter the US without IELTS.

It depends on the course you are taking up. For English language proficiency, the best tests to choose from are IELTS, PTE, and TOEFL.

A minimum of 60% is mandatory to be eligible to go abroad. For studying abroad, you may need to submit scores of IELTS, TOEFL, SAT, PTE, GMAT, or GRE.


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