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GMAT vs GRE – Which One to Choose?

by Anup chowdhury

GMAT vs GRE – Globally, many b-schools accept GMAT or GRE scores for admission into MBA programs, which means that the aspirants can either appear for a GMAT test or GRE exam. While GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is a computer adaptive test intended to assess certain analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal and reading skills of candidates in written English for use in admission to a graduate management program only, the GRE or Graduate Record Examination is a standardized test that is an admission requirement for most graduate schools in the United States.

The GRE is administered by the Educational Testing Service whereas the GMAT is conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). Before you decide which test to take, research the business schools that you find interesting and inquire if they accept GRE or GMAT scores. The candidates should also take note of the fact that the GMAT/GRE scores are valid for 5 years, which means the candidates can choose the best management or graduate schools within the time frame and/or can also improve their exam scores before applying for the admissions.

In this article, we will explore the prospects of both the GMAT and the GRE.  We will list the differences between both the tests so that the aspirants understand their benefits as per their own requirements and make a sound decision about which graduate test to appear for.

GMAT vs GRE – Structure and Scoring

The main difference between GMAT and GRE is that GRE is used for admissions into various graduate school programs, while the GMAT is only used to apply for business schools. The GMAT has four sections: Analytical writing, integrated reasoning, quantitative and verbal sections. In GMAT, the scorecard received by a candidate consists of a composite score which can range from 200 to 800. And, this composite score takes into account the scores of the verbal and quantitative sections only. Also, the verbal and quantitative sections both have score ranges of 0-60, in one-point increments. The score range for analytical writing is 0-6, in half-point increments, and the score range for the integrated reasoning section is 1-8, in one-point increments. The GMAT is taken on a computer and is an adaptive test. Adaptive testing is used to get more accurate scores by selecting specific questions with varying difficulty levels from a larger pool.

The GRE has three major sections: Analytical Writing, Quantitative Reasoning, and Verbal Reasoning. In GRE, the score range for the analytical writing section is 0-6, in half-point increments. Both verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning are scored the same way. Their score range is 130-170, in one-point increments. The scores of the three sections are generally reported separately and are not combined into a single composite score.

In the GMAT exam, each individual question determines the difficulty of the next question, whereas, in the GRE, the candidate’s score on the entire section determines the difficulty of the next section on that subject.

GMAT and GRE Structure and Scoring Table

Length 3 hours and 30 minutes 3 hours and 45 minutes
No. of Essays 1 2
MCQ questions 90 80 + 20 (unscored research questions)
Sections 4 6 (Including an unscored research section)
Composite Scoring Composite GMAT score ranges from 200-800, in 10 point increments Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning each have score ranges of 130-170, in 1 point increments, for a total score of 260-340
Application Fee USD 250 USD 205
Score Validity 5 years 5 years

GMAT vs GRE – Which exam section is tough in GMAT and GRE?

The verbal sections on the GMAT and the GRE tests similar skills: reading comprehension, critical thinking and grammar. There isnt a much of a difference between the two, however, the GRE is generally considered to have a slightly more challenging verbal section. It tends to include challenging vocabulary and reading passages, and non-native English speakers can find it difficult to solve.

The GMAT has two sections that test math skills: the quantitative section and the integrated reasoning section. Within the quantitative section, there are two types of questions: problem-solving and data sufficiency. Quantitative reasoning tests the skills in the following areas: algebra, arithmetic, data analysis and geometry. The majority of questions are MCQs (Multiple Choice Questions), however, there will be several numeric entry questions where the applicants have to enter the correct answer instead of selecting from the given choices.


Key differences in the quantitative sections of GMAT and GRE

Sections 2 (quantitative and integrated reasoning) 2
Quantitative 49 (37 for quantitative section, 12 for integrated reasoning) 40 (20 questions in each section)
Length Total 105 minutes (75 minutes for quantitative, 30 minutes for integrated reasoning) Total 60 minutes (30 minutes per section)
Topics Tested
  • Data sufficiency
  • Problem-solving
Integrated Reasoning:
  • Multi-source reasoning
  • Graphics interpretation
  • Two-part analysis
  • Table analysis
  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Data analysis
Score Range Quantitative: 0-60, Integrated Reasoning: 1-8 130-170

Both of the exams have many similarities but the GMAT is more focused on grammar, while the GRE test focuses on vocabulary more aggressively.

The verbal section of the GMAT tests the candidates’ ability to understand written material, evaluate arguments on different topics, and identify and correct errors in written material. The verbal section of GMAT asks three types of questions: reading comprehensions,  critical reading, sentence corrections, whereas, in GRE,  text completion and sentence equivalence along with reading comprehensions are asked in the verbal section. The inforgraphic below shows the key differences between GMAT and GRE.

gmat vs gre gmat vs gre

*Source: Benchprep

Visit – GRE PREPARATION – How to prepare for GRE?

Comparison of the verbal section in GMAT and GRE

Verbal Section 1 2
No of Verbal Questions 41 40 (20 questions per section)
Length 75 minutes 60 minutes (30 minutes per section)
Topics covered
  • Reading comprehension
  • Critical reasoning
  • Sentence correction
  • Reading comprehension
  • Text completion
  • Sentence equivalence
Score Range 0-60 130-170

The major difference between GRE and GMAT writing is that the GMAT only requires one essay and the GRE requires two. The analytical writing assessment section on the GMAT contains one essay prompt that takes 30 minutes to complete.  For analytical writing on the GRE, the applicants have to write two essays: Analyze an Argument and Analyze a Task. They will have 30 minutes to write each essay.

Comparison of Analytical Writing Sections of GMAT and GRE

No of Writing Sections 1 1
No of Essay Prompts 1 2
Length 30 minutes Two 30-minute sections
Topics covered
Analysis of argument
Analyze an issue
Analyze an argument
Score Range 0-6 0-6

GMAT vs GRE – Should you appear for GMAT or GRE?

Before spending a lot of time thinking about which exam to appear for, there are two things that applicants can do:

  • First, research the exam policies of the top schools youre interested in. Many schools will state which exam they accept on their admissions page, but you may still want to contact the admissions’ office directly and ask them if they prefer one exam over the other.
  • Take the practice test for both exams (download software from the official website of GMAT and GRE practice exams).
Visit GMAT Preparation – How to prepare for GMAT?

GMAT vs GRE – Do business schools prefer GMAT or GRE?

GRE is the most widely-accepted graduate school admissions exam and it can be used to apply to a wide variety of programs, for example, Masters in French Literature to a Ph.D. in astrophysics, and many programs in between. The GMAT is almost only used to apply for business schools. If youre certain that you want to attend business school and have no interest in other programs, it may be best to take the GMAT because it will show schools that youre committed to attending business school.

  • Many business schools feel that questions on the GMAT, particularly the Quantitative and Integrated Reasoning sections test the skills and knowledge more directly related to what the applicants need to know to do well in business schools.

  • Some schools believe that submitting GMAT scores shows that the candidates are certain about attending business school and are committed to that career path.

Visit the main resource site to know Why Take GMAT? 

GMAT vs GRE – Graduate school plan and cost of the exam

  • The cost of taking the GMAT is slightly higher than the cost of taking the GRE (USD 250 compared to USD 205). The GMAT fee includes five free score reports while the GRE only includes four free score reports. If the applicant thinks that they might have to take the exam multiple times, then they have to bear a higher cost for taking GMAT than the GRE.

  • Applicants are required to submit scores from a specific exam in order to be eligible for certain scholarships. If youre looking for ways to keep your educational costs down, you should not be missing out on certain scholarships due to these tests.

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