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GMAT vs GRE: Which test is the best for you?

Updated: May 14, 2022

Meet Erin, a 23-year-old Bachelor of Commerce student from the University of Delhi. Even after spending his final year interning in finance, equity, sales and marketing, Erin realized that to scale heights in his career, it was important for him to get a master’s degree. He sincerely wishes to get into a reputed international B-School.

Now say hello to Sneha, a Chemical Engineering graduate with a BTech degree. Sneha has a strong mark-sheet with an impressive score. She has job offers from leading multinationals. However, her future plans involve getting a master’s and a PhD before bagging a research-oriented job. For that she knows that it’s important to pursue an MS or MSc in Chemistry. After some research online, she has zeroed down on the Caltech and University of Michigan to pursue her masters in the field.

Like Erin and Sneha, many students aspiring to get a master’s degree in reputed colleges, struggle at the very first and perhaps the most significant step towards a worthwhile post-graduation degree- that is taking the GMAT or the GRE test. Let’s see how Erin and Sneha decide what’s next for them. Are these tests even necessary? What are the key differences between the two tests that will become the deciding factors for students like them?

1. Overview


Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT) is a computer adaptive standardized test that is curated to assess students willing to apply to business schools worldwide.

So, students like Erin who aspire to be in a reputed management school, should consider taking the GMAT test.


Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is a computer based or paper based (only offered in areas of the world where computer-delivered testing is not available) standardized test to analyze students interested in pursuing postgraduate courses at universities across the globe.

Students like Sneha, who wish to pursue their masters in areas other than business and management, should take the GRE. Although, more and more B schools are also accepting GRE these days, if you are looking for admission into a B-school, taking the GMAT exam demonstrates clarity of your career goal.

2. How are the test structures different?


GMAT is a 3 hours 30 minutes long test with 4 sections: Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning.


It is a 3 hours 45 minutes long exam with 3 sections - Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning. The Analytical Writing section requires you to write your analysis on two arguments within 60 minutes. The Verbal Reasoning section comprises of 40 questions to be done in 60 minutes and the Quantitative Reasoning section has 40 questions to be performed within 70 minutes.

3. Do you have to take an admission test to get admission into a university for post-graduation?

“Well, I have an impressive degree, great scores and graduation from a leading college. Isn’t that enough to get me into the post graduate university of my choice?”, wonders Sneha. Although GMAT and GRE are popular tests for US graduate admissions process, there are scores of universities that may not mandate a GRE score. But they have other selection criteria for e.g. high undergraduate GPA, relevant professional experience etc. While Sneha has a great undergraduate GPA at her side, she must check the university website to be sure. Similarly, while more than 2,300 universities use the GMAT exam as part of the selection criteria for their programs, there are few B Schools that have a different set of asks. So, a quick website check would be helpful for Erin too.

4. How much do they cost?


For a GRE test, Sneha needs to pay a test fee of 205 USD.


If B School aspirant Erin takes the GMAT, he might have to shell out a little more i.e. 250 USD.

5. Which test is easier?


While both tests need a lot of serious preparation, GMAT should be taken by those with quantitative and analytical skills. If interpreting data presented in charts, tables, and text to solve complex problems is your thing, go for GMAT. As far as language is concerned, students with strong editing skills should opt for GMAT.


GRE has a more straightforward math section and allows the use of calculators. Whereas GMAT does not allow the use of calculators. In language, those with great vocabulary prefer GRE.

6. What’s unique about these tests?


One of the most significant differences between the two tests is adaptability. GMAT is question adaptive, which means that if Erin answers a question correctly, his next question will automatically be of higher difficulty level.


On the other hand, GRE is in-section adaptive. That means, if Sneha attempts the first sub-section correctly, her next sub-section is going to be of a higher difficulty level.

7. What are some other differences?

Unlike GRE, GMAT has a Data Sufficiency section and an Integrated Reasoning section that accesses the test-takers on synthesizing, combining and manipulating information given as charts, graphs etc.

Also, since GMAT is a question-adaptive test, Erin cannot skip, return to or change his answers. But Sneha can do so in GRE.

Both tests are conducted on multiple dates throughout the year and the validity of both tests is 5 years. By taking these tests, students like Erin and Sneha are able to demonstrate a holistic view of their strengths to the colleges.

Book a consultation with WritersQi to understand which test is more suited to you.

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