GRE vs. GMAT - What should you prefer and why?

It is inarguably the hottest debate both for graduate study aspirants and graduate school test takers; GRE vs. GMAT. Not only does the debate hold significance for the kind of degree an aspirant will graduate with, but also towards the choice of profession he takes up. B-school aspirants, who have long relied on the GMAT to help them make it to the schools of their choice, are now being offered a wider entrance in to the esteemed gateways of top B-schools, who have started to accept GRE scores from future students. But this acceptance has only furthered the dilemma of an aspirant. Which exam should he sit for? The answer to this GRE vs. GMAT debate lies in primarily understanding which school the applicant is applying to and whether that school accepts GMAT or GRE scores or both. The answer to this question more or less will help the aspirant choose which exam to sit for. Nevertheless, what follows is a discussion on what you should prefer and why.

The GMAT score is seen as an indicator of the aspirant’s aptitude towards business studies and his success in tackling the rigors of an MBA program, or sometimes finance and economic programs. The GRE on the other hand, is a less specific exam and gauges on a broader aspect the aptitude of the aspirant towards graduate study in fields like Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Literature, English, Mathematics, Physics and Psychology. It is also an accepted score for many PhD programs. But, of late, the GRE score has been accepted by almost 400 B-schools, including Stanford, MIT, Insead, Yale, Harvard Business School to name a few. At , there is an entire list of MBA programs that accept GRE scores. Contacting the admission department of a particular college would be helpful in solving the dilemma of GRE vs. GMAT

Difference in the Exams

Content - Both the exams do not differ much in terms of content, than in level of difficulty. For example, both have three sections, namely verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing. The Verbal and Quant sections are the ones which have difference in level of difficulty, whereas the analytical writing section is more or less the same with two essays in both the exams. The Verbal section of the GRE is more diverse and therefore more testing, and hence not favorable to an aspirant with a non-arts background or for someone who is not at home with the English language and its usage. The Quant section, on the other hand, in the GRE is much simpler to that of the GMAT and also more scoring for aspirants with a better hand at math and data sufficiency problems. So, aspirants who intend to attend business schools, but do not have math as their strong subject should opt for the GRE instead of the GMAT.

Exam Fee – The GRE costs $160 which is a phenomenal $90 less than the GMAT exam which costs the aspirant $250. Although the scores of both the exams are valid for five years, the GRE wins hands down in the financial aspect of the GRE vs. GMAT debate, because many aspirants consider taking the lesser-costing exam again, only so because it pinches the pocket much less than taking the GMAT does.

Performance – Agreed, that B-schools aspirants should still choose GMAT over GRE, because it is an exam more number of B-schools depend on as compared to the GRE. But for those with a liberal arts background and a not-so-sound footing in math, the GRE is a good option for business studies or for that matter other graduated studies or a dual graduate study program as well (provided your chosen college accepts the GRE score). So, depending on your academic background, you can choose whether to sit for the GMAT or the GRE. The argument here is less about GRE vs. GMAT, but more about what kind of an aspirant would perform better on which exam.

Job Scene – Finally, does taking the GRE or the GMAT affect your job recruitment? Yes, it does. Many recruiters from investment banks and management consulting companies rely more on GMAT scores when considering job applicants. Experts would say that a GMAT score holds more favour here between GRE vs. GMAT if banking, management or economic consulting are the fields you are aiming to join.


Many predict that soon enough the GRE and GMAT will be used interchangeably, as scores from both exams are being increasingly accepted for admissions to graduate study, be it a B-school or any other graduate study program. Although the GMAT has more weight age than the GRE and is considered by many to be a more esteemed exam than the GRE, because it is a better representative of the aspirant’s performance on critical thinking and analytical approach, the GRE being a broader exam offers applicants a chance at more study programs than just restricting them to business studies.

The debate between GRE vs. GMAT, rightly put can be settled by the aspirant alone after he takes into consideration his academic background, choice of graduate study and profession and the admission criteria of his future graduate school; schools look at the entire package of test scores, essays, background and motivation to excel in a particular program.

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