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Last Updated: July 23, 2021

MBA School Admission - GRE or GMAT?

An MBA (Master in Business Administration) is a graduate degree designed to develop the skills for careers in business and management. As with most graduate programs, an aptitude test is one of the factors considered for admission. In the past, MBA schools only accepted GMAT scores, but in recent years, universities have started accepting GRE scores too.

While there are colleges and universities that also let candidates apply without a GRE or GMAT score, it is considered ideal for candidates to crack either of these examinations to enter the best institutions of their choice. While contemplating the need for taking one of these examinations, candidates might find it hard to choose from these two examinations. It is advisable for candidates to play to their strengths by looking at their own strengths and weaknesses and placing them alongside the two examinations to understand which exam will let them score better. A better score in either of these examinations will aid candidates highly in their admission process.

What is GMAT?

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is the test required for admission to most business schools. Since business schools have accepted this exam for many years, they often have more data on the scores of previously admitted applicants. The test consists of a 30-minute Analytic section with one essay, a 30-minute Integrated Reasoning section, a 75-minute Quantitative section, and a 75-minute Verbal section. It is a computer adaptive test and lays more emphasis on the Quantitative and Data Interpretation sections than the Verbal section. GMAT costs $250 per attempt and can be attempted multiple times by the candidate.

What is GRE?

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required for admission to most graduate schools and a growing number of business schools. This test is accepted in over 160+ countries in the world and contains 3 sections in all. This exam, unlike the GMAT, lays less emphasis on the Quantitative section and focuses more on the Verbal Section. The Verbal section focuses more on vocabulary and grammar that it can be found to be challenging for non-native English speakers. The test consists of a 60-minute Analytical Writing section with 2 essays, two 30-minute Verbal Reasoning sections, two 35-minute Quantitative Reasoning sections, and a 30-minute experimental section. It is offered both as a paper-based test and a computer-adaptive test and costs $195 for each attempt.

Comparing GRE and GMAT

Before comparing the two examinations on a personal level, candidates should ideally compare the overall structure and content of the examination. The two exams can be compared based on content, time duration, format, and scoring. The differences between GRE and GMAT are as follows-

Choosing Between GRE and GMAT

Due to the relative prominence of both these examinations in the lives of candidates planning to pursue their graduate degrees, candidates can often get confused while choosing the best examination for them. While one can compare and contrast the differences in the examinations, it is best to start with the basic differences in cost and test center availability before considering other in-depth factors.

A few pointers for choosing between the examinations are as follows-

Consider Graduate School Plans

GRE is often chosen by candidates who wish to pursue graduate programs in the Sciences and sometimes even in Liberal Arts though it isn’t strictly necessary. GMAT has been popular among candidates who choose to go to business schools after their degree. The ideal choice for business school aspirants is to take the GMAT over GRE. Candidates who are still unsure of the course they want to pursue and have an inkling that they might choose another course than MBA must go with GRE since then they will not have wasted time and effort on an exam that might not benefit them.

Research the Requirements of the Institution

While it is no longer mandatory for business schools to ask for GMAT, some top league business schools still prefer the GMAT over GRE. Before weighing one’s options between the two examinations, it would be best to consider the preferences of the institutions one is planning to attend before registering for the examination. It is also important for candidates to look up scholarship options and estimating which examination provides them with the chance of receiving a scholarship.

Compare Between One’s Quantitative and Verbal Skills

Every student will have a field they excel in. While some candidates might find it easier to solve the Quantitative sections in examinations, others might score better in the Verbal section. It is important that candidates take diagnostic tests for both GRE and GMAT before they choose between the examinations. This will give them an idea of which exam will let them score better with minimal effort. Candidates that have strong Verbal skills should consider GRE since the exam mainly focuses on the Verbal section and can provide such candidates with high scores. At the same time, candidates who are excellent at Math will excel in the GMAT due to the emphasis the exam lays on the Quantitative section of the test.


Although there is the option of taking both examinations for students, it is advisable that candidates do not go for it. Registering for two examinations imply that the candidate will have to prepare separately for both examinations within the same amount of time. Test preparation is both time-consuming and expensive with the examinations costing around $200 each leaving the expenses for online courses and prep materials. It is best for candidates to put all their energy into cracking one examination than trying to score high in both and ending up with average scores in both the tests.

It may seem to candidates that having both the score reports will account for more. But most of the time, candidates will only be able to submit either one of their scores and ultimately will have to choose between the two tests while sending in their application.

Preparing for GRE and Preparing for GMAT

While preparing for the examinations, candidates should remember that though it is great to have a high score in the examination, a GRE or GMAT score will not be the only factor for choosing the applicant. It is just one of the many factors that admission officers will look into before calling the candidate for the interview.

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