Decoding the GRE and GMAT: Understanding the Key Differences


GRE’ and ‘GMAT become recurring words in the dictionary of any person who is planning to enroll for high education abroad. Both of them are exams that make up an integral part of the selection process of countless graduate schools and hence, act as a stepping-stone for students. But, GRE and GMAT are as like as chalk and cheese, and both require a different kind of approach. This makes it imperative for students to choose which of the two exams – GRE or GMAT – should they prepare for.

GRE or GMAT? – The Dilemma

The decision GRE or GMAT? – Can be a puzzling one but one can come to a sound decision after gaining enough knowledge about both the exams. Read on to get a multi-dimensional perspective on what makes GRE and GMAT test mutually exclusive.

Factors GMAT GRE
Full form GMAT full-form Graduate Management Admission Test GRE full form Graduate Record Examinations
Conducted by Graduate Management Aptitude Test conducted by GMAC is a standardized & computerized adaptive test which is generally accepted for entrance to B-schools across the world Graduates Record Examination, conducted by ETS is a standardized aptitude test for admissions to post-graduate degree courses around the world
Accepted by/ for All reputed business schools for admission to its postgraduate programs in management All reputed universities for a variety of postgraduate degree programs including management
Test Structure Analytical Writing Section with one essay (30 minutes)
Quantitative Section (75 minutes)
Verbal Section (75 minutes)
Integrated Reasoning (30 minutes)
Analytical Writing Section with 2 essays (75 minutes)
2 Verbal Sections (30 minutes each)
2 Quantitative Sections (35 minutes each)
Experimental Section (either Verbal or Quantitative) (30 minutes)
Test Format Computerized adaptive test Both paper and computerized adaptive formats are available
Score Range 200 – 800 in 10-point increment 130 – 170 in 1 point increment
Score Validity 5 years 5 years
Cost $275 $213
Repetitions After every 31 days to a maximum of 5 attempts in a calendar year After every 21 days to a maximum of 5 attempts in a year (continuous rolling 12-month period from the beginning of the first test)


Which is Easier, GMAT or GRE?

The test that will be easier for you will be determined by your academic strengths and testing style.

  • The quantitative section of the GRE is typically easier than the quantitative section of the GMAT (and you get to use a calculator). The GRE section typically contains more geometry questions, whereas the GMAT section contains more logical reasoning questions. So, GRE is easier than GMAT?
  • In contrast, the GRE verbal section contains more difficult vocabulary than the GMAT. Many test takers believe that the GMAT verbal section is slightly easier.


Validity and Purpose

The critical factor that determines your choice between GRE and GMAT is on your purpose of giving the exam. In clearer words, it depends on what you aspire to pursue in the future. While it may seem as the GRE is used for admissions in most graduate schools and GMAT is meant explicitly for business schools or MBA program admissions – there is no fixed trend or hard-and-fast rule around this. Over 1300 universities and business programs now have GRE as their criteria for admission instead of GMAT.

  • Check the admission criterion of your preferred school

You must check individually about the admission criterion of the graduate school that you’re aiming for. If they require you to have a GRE score, then there’s no point taking the GMAT and vice-versa.

  • GRE or GMAT – which fetches you a better score?

Another way to figure out which exam to take among the two is to give a free-mock test of both GRE and GMAT and compare your test scores. This will acquaint you with both the exams and give you an idea of which among the two can prove to be more beneficial for you (according to the test scores).

Related Blog: Roadmap to Scoring 700+ on the GMAT


Test Scoring

It is often helpful to become familiar with the test structures of both the exams – GRE and GMAT.  The GRE consists of just three sections, namely, Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Analytical Writing Skills. While the GRE Verbal Reasoning and GRE Quantitative Reasoning are marked similarly – with a range from 130 to 170 (one-point increments), the GRE Analytical Writing Skills are judged on a parameter of 0-6 marks. These scores are given out separately.

In the GMAT, on the other hand, you’re given a composite score rather than a separate one. This composite score can range from 200 to 800 points, having 10-point increments. However, this composite score comprises only of the Verbal and Quantitative sections. The other two parts are Analytical Writing Assessment and Integrated Reasoning – making it a total of 4 sections in GMAT – which are not included in the composite score. The score for GMAT Analytical writing can go from 0 to 6 while that for Integrated Reasoning has a range of 1-8 points.

Related Blog: All You Need to Know About the GRE Scoring System


Section-wise comparison

  • Verbal Section

The GMAT is more intent on judging your abilities to comprehend written material, assess arguments, and figure-out and correct faults in written material.

The GRE’s Verbal Reasoning section checks how well you can infer conclusions from written texts, review and summarize passages, be au fait with words meanings and complete readings.

Hence, the verbal sections of both the exams test you on almost similar skills.

  • Quantitative Ability

There are two sub-sections in the GMAT math section – Quantitative section and Integrated reasoning. While the quantitative section has problem-solving and data sufficiency questions, integrated thinking has graphical and table analysis kind of questions.

Algebra, arithmetic, data analysis, and geometry are the basic areas that you’re judged on in the GRE’s quantitative ability section.

  • Writing Ability

In the GMAT’s Writing Section, you are required to present a single essay in which you’ll have to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a given argument. While in the GRE, there are two essays – one on analysing an argument and the other on analysing a task.


The Costing and Duration of Validity

For taking one GMAT exam, an individual has to pay a fee of $275 (Approx. 22,400 INR) while the cost for the GRE Exam is $205 (Approx. 16,700 INR) per exam.

Both the GMAT and GRE test scores are valid for five years. However, while the GRE can be taken any number of times, GMAT can only be taken a maximum of 8 times by a particular individual.


Other Details About the Tests

The maximum time given to solve each of the tests – GRE and GMAT – is approximately the same, with GRE being 3.5 hours long and the GMAT lasting for 3.45 hours. Also, you’re only allowed to give the GMAT on a computer. On the other hand, a paper-based GRE is offered in areas of the world where computer-based tests are not accessible.


Do Business Schools Prefer GMAT or GRE?

Although many business schools claim that they don’t care about GMAT or GRE scores, more than 90% of applicants include the GMAT score. Why is this the case?

There are three reasons for this:

  • GMAT is designed to assess skills that help MBA admission committees determine who can not only get into but also complete the MBA program.
  • Taking the GMAT shows Business Schools how clear your career goals are. Because the GRE is accepted for other graduate programs, admission committees may question your commitment to a business graduate program.
  • Most business schools are used to comparing applicants’ GMAT scores because they are more comfortable interpreting the GMAT scores. You never know whether business schools convert GRE scores to GMAT scaled scores in order to compare all applications.

What do you think of the above article? Share the post for others to learn and comment. Manya experts would like to hear from everyone and answer further queries. Do seek an appointment if you would like best-in-class guidance. Cheers!


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Can an average student crack GMAT?

The GMAT is a standardized test. This means that the types of questions, duration of sections and the content tested are all predictable and standardized. So, if you practice using proper, standardized material from reliable sources and practice in a smart, efficient manner, then you too can get a great score.

What is the difference between GRE and GMAT Syllabus?

The exclusion of an integrated reasoning portion in the GRE test is one of the most significant differences between the GRE and GMAT syllabuses.

Can I take the GRE exam for Business School?

Most of the business schools accept the GRE exam in place of the GMAT exam. However, it is suggested to cross-check the policies and preferences of the program and the college you’re interested in.

Can I take the GMAT after 12th or high school?

Yes, you may take the GMAT after completing your 12th grade or High school. However, for getting admission into a B-school, you should have a graduate degree from a recognized university and also note that the GMAT score is valid only for 5 years.

Can just a good GRE Score / good GMAT Score help in getting an admission?

No, the overall profile matters.

GRE vs GMAT: What’s the Difference? Which Should You Take?

GRE is an eligibility test for most of the master’s program including a few specialized programs in Management and MBA. GMAT is meant exclusively for MBA and other management courses. You have to decide what test to take based on your requirements. If you are not sure about what you want to study, then GRE will be a better choice.

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