GMAT VS GRE The GMAT and GRE Tests Prepare To Do Battle!

Introducing the Contestants!

In this corner – since approximately 1955 – selling millions of its test to business schools – formerly developed by ETS, but now, since 1995, developed by the ACT and Pearson (costing ETS millions in lost revenue) – the GMAT!!!

In the other corner – for more than 60 years – selling millions of its test to graduate schools – always developed by ETS (and anxious to recoup the revenue lost, when GMAT moved to ACT) – the GRE!!!

What are GMAT and GRE?

The GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) and the GRE (Graduate Record Exam) have been part of the admissions landscape for many years. The GMAT has been traditionally been used by business schools as part of the MBA admissions process.  The GRE has traditionally been required for many graduate (both Masters and Doctoral) programs. Both the GMAT and GRE are computer adaptive (CAT) tests and share many other characteristics. Up until now, they have each respected the others turf. But now, the GRE is trying to “poach” GMAT’s customers by arguing that the GRE is a suitable test to be used for MBA admissions.

Is the GRE a suitable test for admission to MBA programs?
– The GRE point of view

“Accepting GRE scores makes good business sense,” says ETS Associate Vice President David Payne. “Accepting both GRE and GMAT tests will improve the size, diversity and quality of the applicant pool and student body. Clearly, these are the kinds of tangible benefits that business schools value and what the global business community increasingly demands to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.”

“Some people are surprised to learn that the GRE test measures the same basic cognitive skills as the GMAT test,” Payne adds. “In fact, ETS actually developed the GMAT test some years ago, so we are keenly aware that it does not measure business skills. Like the GRE test, it measures knowledge and skills that admissions officials must evaluate when considering applicants for graduate programs.”

ETS Vice President David Payne – quoted from

Attacking the GMAT Monopoly – should the GMAT be the ONLY suitable admissions test for MBA? Some schools use the GRE. Queen’s uses its own “QMAT”.

“It has all the makings of a great business school case study: a worldwide market, a lost contract, unexpected competition, debates over whether the best market is broad or focused …

Read the complete article from Inside Higher Ed

The plot thickens.. to learn more see:

Business Week

Inside Higher Education

Regardless of the motivation and intrigue, a growing number of schools will allow applicants to submit either a GMAT or a GRE score. An interesting article. Accepting either GMAT or GRE for MBA is a growing trend.

Generalizing the principle - could the GRE be used instead of the LSAT for law admissions?

As a matter of simple fact, the LSAT is required as part of the admissions process for U.S. and Canadian law schools. Why the LSAT? In order for a school to be approved by the ABA, it must meet certain standards. Standard 503 says:

“A law school shall require all applicants to take an acceptable test for the purpose of assessing the applicantscapability of satisfactorily completing its education program.  A law school that is not using the Law School Admission Test sponsored by the Law School Admission Council shall establish that it is using an acceptable test.”

The requirement of “an acceptable test” means that the LSAT per se, is not required. Perhaps a law school should consider a GMAT or GRE.

Some examples of MBA programs that accept either GRE or GMAT scores:

• Colorado State University
• ESADE Business School - Spain
• Georgia Southwestern State University
• IE Business School - Spain
• Johns Hopkins University
• Massachusetts Institute of Technology
• Northern Kentucky University
• Rochester Institute of Technology
• Stanford University

• Texas A&M International University
• University of Alabama
• University of Arkansas
• University of Central Florida
• University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
• University of South Carolina
• University of Vermont
• University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire

What this means for you. Should YOU take the GMAT or the GRE for MBA admissions?  

If you have a choice, you need to consider which test will work better for you. Both the GMAT and the GRE are tests of “reading and reasoning in context”. GMAT and GRE questions appear in one of the following three categories:

  1. quantitative (both tests assume the same level of quantitative knowledge)
  2. verbal
  3. writing

The GMAT and GRE share question formats and have question formats that are specific to either  the GMAT or GRE. In addition, each test requires you to work at a different rate of speed. Hence, the choice of GMAT or GRE should be based on both “content” and “pacing” considerations.

Scoring Scale 200 - 800 200 - 800
Quantitative 37 Questions - 75 Minutes 28 Questions - 45 Minutes
Problem Solving Yes Yes
Data Sufficiency Yes No
Quantitative Comparison No Yes
Verbal 41 Questions - 75 Minutes 30 Questions - 30 Minutes
Reading Comprehension Yes Yes
Critical Reasoning Yes No (previously on GRE)
Sentence Correction Yes No
Analogies No Yes
Antonyms No Yes
Sentence Completions No Yes
Writing 2 Essays - 60 Minutes 2 Essays - 75 Minutes
Analysis of an argument Yes Yes
Analysis of an issue Yes Yes
Essays Scored on scale of 0 - 6 0 - 6

As you can see, the question types that are common to both the GMAT and the GRE are:

  1. Problem solving, reading comprehension and the writing exercises. Because of the large amount of time take up by the essays, the GMAT and GRE have greater similarities than differences.

Note that the GRE verbal section is heavily dependent on vocabulary. Many test takers find this aspect of the test extremely difficult. You can see the comparison from the GMAT point of view HERE.

You should be advised that in 2007 GRE announced that they were beginning to experiment with some new question types.

(ETS had planned massive format changes to the GRE that were to take effect in 2007. Those interested about what the changes were (it may give a clue to the future) should check these out.

Sample GMAT questions and prep material.

Sample GRE questions and prep material.

Free GMAT GRE Math Review.

For GMAT AND GRE Preparation Courses.

How to determine whether to take the GMAT or the GRE

The only issue is where do you think you will achieve the higher overall score. Both GMAT and GRE publish free downloadable computer adaptive software. You should try each test and see where your comparative advantage lies.

Content Based Considerations - You are likely to find that:

  • if you are weaker in the quantitative that you should take the GRE;
  • if you are weaker in the verbal you should take the GMAT
  • If you have trouble pacing yourself through the 75 minute GMAT sections, then you should consider the GRE (see below)

(If you are strong in a particular area it won’t matter which test you take.)

Pacing Based Considerations – If you are “content neutral” when it comes to the GMAT and GRE and you have trouble pacing yourself through a 75 minute GMAT section then you may want to consider the GRE.

At the time of writing, it is less expensive to take the GRE.

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