Which Programs Recognize the GMAT & GRE?
The decision used to be simple: individuals who planned to attend business school took the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), and those pursuing a graduate degree in the humanities or sciences took the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Recently, many business schools have begun to accept the GRE along with the GMAT for various reasons.
According to the Educational Testing Service (ETS) – the company that develops, administers and scores the GRE – more than 900 MBA programs in the US now accept the GRE and the GMAT, as do several hundred more programs worldwide. An up-to-date list of all MBA programs that accept the GRE can be found on the ETS website. So, which exam should you take if you want to go to business school and get your MBA?
1. Call Schools to Find Out Which Exams They Accept
It is always a good idea to contact the admissions department of any graduate school that interests you to to get the most up-to-date information about their admissions and MBA requirements. If they accept both the GRE and the GMAT, find out if the department prefers one exam to the other and why. You should also ask if they compare the two tests and which scores they consider to be equivalent. Sometimes, a particular exam is used to qualify students for scholarships or other benefits, so you’ll want to make sure you are taking the right test to maximize your chances for admissions and any additional perks.
2. What Do You Plan to Study?
Taking the GMAT indicates that your sole ambition is to go to business school. Students who take the GRE may also be applying to other types of graduate programs. Of course, those who are interested in a dual degree program (e.g. business and political science or public administration) may find it to their advantage to take the GRE if that exam is accepted by both programs.
On the other hand, taking the GMAT demonstrates that you are committed to getting a business degree because the GMAT is only accepted by business schools and cannot be used to apply to other kinds of graduate schools.
Which is Harder, GMAT or GRE?
When you are applying to business school, your test scores will need to be very competitive because business schools factor scores heavily into their admissions decisions. The general consensus is that neither exam is objectively harder, but many individuals will perform better on one exam than on the other, based on their particular background and skills. If you have solid math skills and think word problems are a breeze, the GMAT is the more traditional choice and may carry more weight with business school admissions committees. If your math skills are weaker, consider taking the GRE because the Quant sections are considered to be slightly easier than those on the GMAT.
On the other hand, if vocabulary and language usage have never been your strong suit, you may prefer the GMAT to the GRE’s more subtle and complex Verbal sections.
If you are not sure which exam is the best choice for you, you can take a free practice exam of each. The ETS website provides access to two full-length GRE practice tests, and two full-length GMAT practice tests are available at www.mba.com, the official GMAT website.
The GRE is offered in more cities and countries around the world than the GMAT. As such, it may be more convenient for you to register for and take the GRE, depending on where you live.
The GMAT is a standardized, computer adaptive test that measures a number of different analytical and problem solving skills as well as other abilities considered important in the field of business and management. Admissions committees have a lot of experience with the GMAT because it was the only accepted standardized exam by business schools for many years. It is considered relatively good at predicting how well students will perform in business school.
The four parts of the GMAT include:
- An Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) essay
- An Integrated Reasoning (IR) section
- A Quantitative or “Quant” section
- A Verbal section
The GMAT takes approximately 3 1/2 hours to complete. The four different sections are broken down as follows:
- AWA: You have 30 minutes to write an essay on one topic
- In the IR section, 12 questions must be answered in 30 minutes
- In the Quant Section, 37 questions must be completed in 75 minutes
- In the Verbal Section, 41 questions must be answered in 75 minutes
GMAT Subjects & Question Types
There are several different types of questions in each section of the GMAT. In the AWA Section, students are tasked with analyzing and providing a critique of the logical reasoning of a specific given argument. This section evaluates critical thinking skills and the ability to communicate an argument in writing.
The IR Section contains questions related to graphics interpretation, two-part analysis, table analysis, and multi-source reasoning. It tests students’ ability to integrate data in order to solve problems.
The Quant Section is designed to test basic knowledge of essential math skills and evaluates how good tests takers are at analyzing data and using reasoning skills to form conclusions. This section features two types of questions, Data Sufficiency and Problem Solving. Data Sufficiency questions usually include a question and 2 statements of data, and students must decide if those statements contain enough data to answer the question. Problem Solving questions draw on test-takers’ knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, and geometry.
The Verbal Section contains Reading Comprehension questions, Critical Reasoning questions, and Sentence Correction questions. Reading Comprehension questions are designed to measure how well test takers understand, are able to analyze and apply information and concepts after reading a short passage. Critical Reasoning questions demand the use of reasoning skills to create and analyze arguments and plans of action. Finally, Sentence Correction questions ask test takers to select the best, most grammatical version of 5 possible sentences.
The GRE revised General Test is a standardized test that is designed to test your verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing skills to gauge how capable you are of graduate level work. Until recently, the GRE was primarily required for admission to graduate programs in the humanities and sciences, but it is now accepted by many business schools as an alternative to the GMAT.
Like the GMAT, the GRE is a computer-adaptive test, however, the GRE revised General Test is adaptive only at the section level. This means that the difficulty of the second Verbal Reasoning or Quantitative Reasoning section on your GRE will relate directly to how well you performed on the first section of that type. For this reason, you can skip or go back to questions and change your answers within the same section on the GRE, but on the GMAT, you cannot go back to any question once you have answered or skipped it because every answer you provide on the GMAT determines the difficulty of the very next problem.
The GRE measures your skills in three separate areas:
1. Verbal Reasoning
2. Quantitative Reasoning
3. Analytical Writing
You are given just under 4 hours (plus a 10 minute break) to complete the GRE on the day of the exam. The timed sections are broken down in the following way:
- Analytic Writing: 2 essay questions, 30 minutes for each section
- Verbal Reasoning: 2 sections of approximately 20 questions each, 30 minutes for each section
- Quantitative Reasoning: 2 sections of approximately 20 questions each, 35 minutes for each section
- Unscored Experimental section: either 30 or 35 minutes, depending on whether it is Verbal or Quantitative.
As on the GMAT, each section of the GRE contains specific types of questions. In the Analytical Writing section, you are provided with two essay topics; an “Analyze an Issue” task, and an “Analyze an Argument” task. The Analyze an Issue task measures your ability to critically evaluate claims made about a general topic and asks you to write a response based on specific instructions. You will most likely be asked if you agree or disagree with a particular claim and why.
The “Analyze an Argument” essay task attempts to evaluate how well you understand, can analyze and determine the validity of a particular line of reasoning and how effectively you can communicate your analysis in writing. You asked to discuss how logical the given argument is, and must determine if enough evidence is present to support the claims.
The Verbal Section measures how well you can interpret and evaluate written material and understand the information contained with in it. You must analyze relationships among different parts of sentences, and must identify relationships among words and concepts.
Three types of questions are found in the Verbal Section: Reading Comprehension, Text Completion, and Sentence Equivalence. For the RC questions, you have to read the passage and answer the questions that follow correctly. Alternatively, you are asked to click on a sentence in the passage that meets a specific description. Text Completion questions involve filling in the blanks in sentences when given various options for each blank. In Sentence Equivalence questions, you have to select two answers that complete a sentence that a) fit the meaning as a whole, and b) produce a sentence that is similar in meaning.
The Quantitative Section of the GRE tests how well you can understand, interpret and analyze quantitative information, solve problems with the help of mathematical models, and whether you can apply basic mathematical concepts and skills by using arithmetic, algebra, and geometry. Unlike the old version of the GRE, the revised test includes an on-screen calculator for students to use on the exam.
In the Quantitative section, Quantitative Comparison (QC) questions ask you to compare two quantities and determine the relationship between them. You will also see Problem Solving (PS) questions; these involve basic math skills and concepts. Some PS questions are based on information provided a set of charts or graphs. These are referred to as Data Interpretation Questions.
You should be aware that (unlike on the GMAT) not all Quant questions will be straightforward multiple choice. In each quantitative reasoning section you will encounter a combination of problems that require you to select one answer from a list of multiple-choice options, select one or more answers from a list of options, and numeric entry problems that require you to type in an answer that you reach on your own.
How Long Should You Study for the GMAT?
There is no magic number of hours that will guarantee a good score on the GMAT. Your success and the amount of time you will need to study will depend on your background and your unique set of skills. A student with a knack for taking standardized tests and good math skills probably won’t have to study as many hours as someone who is less confident in his or her mathematical abilities. Students whose first language is not English may need to spend extra time practicing their language skills to achieve a good score on the Verbal section and AWA.
GMAT Study Hours
A recent GMAC prospective student survey found that slightly more than half of all GMAT test takers studied at least 51 hours to prepare for the exam. The survey also indicated that on average, those who studied more hours before the GMAT got higher scores. For example, those who received a score of 700 or more studied 102 hours on average, and those who received a score between 400 and 499 studied for 70 hours on average (these times are only estimates because the survey asked students to self-report their study hours rather than actually timing students while they studied (See Chart Here).
How Long Should You Study for the GRE?
As with the GMAT, the number of hours you need to study to get a great score on the GRE will depend in part on how well you take tests and whether you have already honed some of the skills that are tested on the Verbal and Quantitative sections of the exam. Non-native speakers of English may need to study much longer than native speakers of English to perform well on the Verbal sections.
GRE Study Hours
Most prep course companies recommend that you set aside a minimum of several weeks to a few months to become familiar with the various sections of the exam and prepare yourself adequately. If you haven’t been out of school for a long time and you are pretty good at math, a few weeks of practice might be all you need. On the other hand, if you take a free practice exam and are unhappy with your score, you may want to dedicate up to a few months to studying for the GRE or enroll in a commercial prep course.
In addition to quantity, the quality of your study hours will matter. Studying consistently for a set time each day over several weeks or months according to a plan and using quality materials will almost certainly lead to a better score than trying to cram in a lot of GRE study hours in a haphazard fashion at the last minute.
When it comes to the cost of the GMAT and GRE, the GRE is the less expensive option.
GRE Cost: The standard fee for an on-time registration for the GRE is $195.
GMAT Cost: The standard registration fee for the GMAT is $250.
The GMAT is scored slightly differently from most other standardized tests.
Both the Quantitative and Verbal Sections are scored on a scale of 0-60. Next, these two scores are combined into a Total score on a scale of 200-800. The Verbal and the Quant sections are computer-adaptive. This means that as you answer each question in The Verbal and Quant sections, computer software evaluates your answer, updates the score, and selects the next question from a question bank depending on how well you answered the preceding questions in an attempt to hone in on your apparent skill level. As a result, you may not skip or return to questions you have already answered. Once you have answered a question and moved on to the next one, the computer has already calibrated and updated your score.
The AWA is scored on a scale of 0-6, and the IR Section is scored on a scale from 1-8. These two sections are not computer-adaptive. They are scored separately and are not included as a part of the 200-800 score that represents the combination of the Quant and Verbal sections.
For more information about GMAT scoring and reporting, click here.
The GRE reports three different scores, one for each of the sections described.
Verbal Reasoning is scored on a scale from 130-170 in one-point increments. Quantitative Reasoning is scored on a scale from 130-170 in one-point increments. The Analytical Writing score is reported on a 0-6 score scale in half-point increments (for example, it is possible to get a 4.5 on the essay).
GRE to GMAT Conversion
On the ETS website, there is a tool designed to help institutions (such as business schools) interpret GRE scores in comparison to GMAT scores. The GRE Comparison Tool for Business Schools enables the relatively reliable prediction of GMAT scores based on applicants’ GRE Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning Scores. (The tool generates a predicted score range instead of specific scores because GRE scores may not be the exact equivalent of scores test-takers would have achieved on the GMAT given the statistical measurement of error in both tests.)
A GMAT to GRE Conversion tool is not available, but it is theoretically possible to work your way backwards by using the tool on the ETS site to approximate the range of scores you might receive on the GRE based on your specific GMAT scores.
For more information about GRE scoring, click here.
Taking the GMAT or the GRE is an essential part of the business school application process. Some programs have minimum cut-off scores to determine which students’ applications will even be reviewed and considered for admission. Your best bet is to contact the business schools that interest you most to find out if those programs prefer one test over the other, and for what reasons. If either test is accepted, you should go with the test that you feel most confident taking. To get the highest possible score and maximize your chances of getting into your first choice school, you should consider enrolling in one of the many excellent online prep courses for the GRE or GMAT. Check out some of the best prep options today!