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GMAT vs GRE

Today there are more and more business schools that are accepting both the GMAT and the GRE® as part of their acceptance procedures. Many students are wondering which of these tests would be best for them to take. There are quite a few differences so let’s take a closer look at how these tests compare.

Both the GMAT and the GRE are computer-formatted, and both exams are adaptive, meaning they adapt to the level you demonstrate during the exam, but the GRE® is adapting after each of the sections while the GMAT is adapting after each individual question. Both the GRE and the GMAT differ significantly from any other exam you’ve ever taken, so for both exams, you will have to dedicate quite some time to find the best exam strategy and to get used to the format and pace.

The GRE is used for admission to many graduate programs offered by Business Schools, while the GMAT is generally used for admissions to MBA programs, so if you’re not considering an MBA degree, don’t even think about taking the GMAT.

What we can see, though, is that increasingly more Business Schools (also the top-rated ones) are beginning to accept the GRE as a GMAT alternative. This is a positive trend, which provides you with one more way to demonstrate your individual competencies, knowledge, and skills. A list of the cheapest online MBA programs in the U.S. is available here.

The GRE exam focuses more on vocabulary, while the GMAT concentrates on sentence structure and grammar, and includes more logic-based questions than the GRE. The GRE includes relatively easier math than the GMAT though this does in no way mean that the GRE is easy, the math on the GMAT is just more difficult. The GRE is taken not only by students looking to get into business programs but also by test takers such as doctors, engineers, or history students, who would like to attend some other graduate program.

The GMAT, on the other hand, is only taken by students wishing to sign up for a Business School, and Business programs require stronger quantitative competencies. That’s why GMAT math is more difficult. So if you decide to take the GRE, be aware that you’ll be faced with challenging quantitative issues at Business School, and that you even may need to take prerequisite courses to succeed.

The GRE® exam is developed by ETS and though it is an alternative to the GMAT (owned by GMAC), there are significant differences. The GMAT is a computer-adaptive exam by question meaning each question is getting more difficult as you come up with a correct answer, and less difficult as you produce an incorrect answer. The GRE® is a section-adaptive exam meaning that the level increases or decreases in relation with your answers, but per section, not per answer. This leads to another important difference.

The GRE allows you to mark, skip, and review questions which is not the case on the GMAT. If you don’t know the answer to a question on the GMAT, you don’t have another choice than to guess the answer to move on because the GMAT is a question-based adaptive test. But as the GRE’s adaptivity is section-based you have the option to skip a question you don’t know the answer to.

Essay Questions

The GRE® includes two essay sections (30 minutes each), two verbal sections (30 minutes each), and two math sections (35 minutes each).
The GMAT includes two essay sections (30 minutes each), one math section (75 minutes), and one verbal section (75 minutes).

The essay sections of the GRE and the GMAT are quite similar, but if you struggle with logic-based or grammar questions, the GRE is offering some respite, because here it’s all about vocabulary.

Verbal Questions

GRE®: For ‘Text Completion’ you need to fill in the blanks using appropriate words, for ‘Sentence Equivalence’ you are asked to select two words that will result in a sentence with identical meaning, and at ‘Reading Comprehension; you must read a passage to come up with proper answers.

GMAT: For ‘Sentence Correction’ you must deal with grammatical issues, for ‘Critical Reasoning’ you need to analyze an argument’s logic, and at ‘Reading Comprehension’ you need to read a passage and produce a proper answer.

On the GRE, two out of three verbal parts, ‘Text Completion’ and ‘Sentence Equivalence’, are testing your vocabulary very directly. If you are not a word-lover, you may find this GRE® verbal section to be pretty tough.

Math Questions

GRE®: the ‘Discrete Quant’ section requires you to answer standard multiple-choice questions. On the ‘Quantitative Comparison’ you must compare the relative sizes of a pair of different expressions, and on ‘Data Interpretation’ you need to answer questions that are based on graphs and charts.

GMAT: The ‘Problem Solving’ part is standard multiple-choice, and on the ‘Data Sufficiency’ part you must determine if there is sufficient data to answer a certain question.

You will need some time to get used to the questions on the GMAT’s ‘Data Sufficiency’ section and the GRE’s ‘Quantitative Comparison’ format, so be prepared to dedicate some time to finding the right approach and appropriate strategy.

Verbal Content Questions

The GRE® exam focuses on Vocabulary and Reading, while the GMAT includes questions on Grammar, Critical Reasoning, and Reading. Here comes a big difference. Students who have strong vocabularies do not necessarily have strong grammar skills, and that goes the other way around as well. So this is a point of consideration. The GRE verbal content requires vocabulary skills while for that GMAT part you need to have better reasoning skills.

 Math Content Questions

Both exams include questions on Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, and Data Analysis, but in general, we can say that the GMAT math portion is absolutely harder both in scoring terms and in the level of questions. The questions on the GMAT require better-developed reasoning skills. Both GRE and GMAT questions cover a wide range of subject matter but do not include calculus, trigonometry, and algebra II.

Be aware, though, that if you prepare for the GRE exam, you don’t want to skip studying math. Though it is not as difficult as the GMAT math, you still are required to command a well-rounded sense of numbers as well as the capacity to solve problems.

So we can see that increasingly more Business Schools now accept the GRE in lieu of the GMAT, but the fact is that numerous schools still stick to the old tradition and accept only the GMAT. Please check with a school about admission requirements and decide for yourself if the GRE or TASC is your cup of tea.