22 Dec 2016

Should You Take the GMAT or GRE for MBA Programs

With more and more MBA programs accepting the GRE, anyone planning on applying has probably asked themselves whether they should take the GMAT or the GRE. The specifics of each test are easy enough to find on the web. Here are the important differences.



This is the traditional admissions test used by all MBA programs. From what I hear, it is even used in the industry for hiring purposes.

The verbal section’s reading comprehension is less vocab intensive than the GRE. There are more logical argumentation questions called critical reasoning. Grammar based error identification questions called sentence corrections are unique to the GMAT. I consider the verbal section on the GMAT more trainable.

The quantitative section problem solving questions are traditional word problems. Data sufficiency, on the other hand, is a whole other beast. While the level of math is lower than what is tested on the SAT and ACT, these questions are notoriously tricky. The GMAT quantitative section is considered more rigorous.


The GRE.

While most MBA programs accept the GRE, it is not universal. The GRE is helpful if you want to apply to non-MBA programs as well.

The GRE verbal is much more vocabulary intensive, and in general just more annoying. Most verbal questions require deep vocabulary knowledge. Many questions have one or more correct answer choices. If you are not well versed in erudite lingo you are not going to have a good time. It takes a long time to build up a natural vocabulary. Plan ahead.

Data analysis in the quantitative section is all charts and graphs. Quantitative comparison involves choosing which expression is always greater. The math tested is similar in level to the GMAT, but it is more annoying than difficult.


Ok, so really, which one should I take?

Both require a significant training commitment to do well. Think at least three months. If you have a wonderful vocabulary and want to apply to other masters programs as well, you may want to train for the GRE. If your vocab or reading skills are not stellar but you are comfortable with basic math, you should train for the GMAT. You may wonder if schools weigh the tests differently. Some say the GMAT quantitative is preferred, but according to schools, there is no preference. Considering the rising number of applicants accepted using the GRE, I’m inclined to believe there is no significant difference between either.


Should I just take both?

Of course there always exists the third option of taking both tests. This seems a bit bonkers. Go with my previous recommendations and just pick one to focus on. If you have a hard time deciding, try a practice test for both and find the one that you do better on percentage wise. Regardless of which one you choose, make sure to show a strong quantitative.

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