Decisions, decisions. Now that most business schools accept either the GMAT or the GRE as part of your application, which standardized exam would be better for you to submit? Is the GRE easier? Do admissions committees like the GMAT more?
First, let’s take a look at each of the exams. There are ways that the GRE and the GMAT are alike and ways that they are different. For example, in the United States, both tests are taken on a computer and adapt to your skill level. They both have writing, quantitative, and verbal sections. Also, sitting for either the GRE or the GMAT can consume your entire morning or afternoon: the total time is almost four hours for each test, plus breaks.
However, there are differences between the exams. The GRE currently costs $195, while the GMAT fee is $250. Furthermore, the quantitative and verbal sections aren’t the same on each test, and neither is the scoring. On the GRE, in addition to a Writing score from 0 to 6, the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections are each scored from 130 to 170. On the GMAT, there is also a Writing score from 0 to 6, but there is also an Integrated Reasoning score of 1 to 8, and a Total score from 200 to 800, which combines the Quantitative and Verbal results.
Confusing, isn’t it? To simplify this issue, you should take a diagnostic test or practice exam for the GRE and for the GMAT to see which one you feel more comfortable with and which you think you can perform better on.
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Second, ask your schools which exams they take and which exam they prefer. Talking with the admissions officers at your business school is a good idea anyway, to let them know who you are and why you’re interested in their particular MBA programs. It will also give you insight on how they view the GRE and the GMAT, especially in regards to your application.
Which leads us to our third issue: how your exam choice and score will fit into your overall package. If you didn’t take many math classes in college, or you don’t do much quantitative analysis in your career, getting a good score on the GMAT could enhance that area of your application. On the other hand, if you think you can do considerable better on the GRE than on the GMAT, then the GRE might be your best course of action.
The truth is, your test score is only one part of your application. Plus, if you’re making a conscious decision to study for either the GMAT or the GRE, then you’re already ahead of the game. The key to success on either exam is advanced preparation. Start crafting a plan today; you’ll have more confidence about whatever choice you make, and more confidence on test day.