Key Differences Between the GMAT And GRE – Which Test Should You Take?

GRE and GMAT logos on a picture where students are sitting in a classroom.

Do you see the two exam names everywhere, GMAT and GRE, when looking at university’s graduation requirements and are wondering what they mean? Well, rest assured! 

We have highlighted the differences between them to help you get closer to your decision and finally answer one of the most important questions, “Is GMAT easier than GRE or is GRE easier than GMAT?”

Differences between the GMAT and GRE

The main and most important difference between them is that the GRE is accepted at thousands of graduate, business, and law schools, whereas the GMAT is more oriented for business school applicants. 

Other than that, there are small differences within the fees, duration, format, scoring system, and the number of business schools accepting them.

What is the GRE?

The GRE stands for the Graduate Record Examination, and it is a multiple-choice, computer-based, standardized exam that is required for admission to graduate programs (any field) and MBAs globally.

This is an important step in your application process as it shows how prepared you are for graduate-level academic work. A high score on the exam will increase your chances of getting accepted, so make sure you dedicate enough time to prepare for it!

The exam evaluates your analytical writing skills, verbal and quantitative reasoning, and critical thinking. The GRE is made up of these three scored portions, but it’s possible to have an unscored section as well.

The Analytical Writing section will always come first, but you won’t know the order of the remaining sections or which section is not scored.

A man is wearing a green sweater and using a calculator

GRE Test Structure: 

  • Analytical Writing: Consists of two 30-minute writing tasks where you have to come up with your argument and evaluate someone else’s argument. Make sure to check some examples of the question types.
  • Verbal Reasoning: Has two 30-minute sections with 20 questions each. It has three parts: reading comprehension, text completion, and sentence equivalence.
  • Quantitative Reasoning: This portion is designed to test your basic math skills (you’re allowed to use the calculator). It has two 35-minute sections with 20 questions each. There are four different question types.

You can move backward and forward through each section, change your answers, and mark questions for “Review” if you’d like to return to them later. 

The test is section-level adaptive, which means that your score on the first section of both Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning will affect the difficulty of the questions tested on the second section for each subject.

GRE Duration: 3 hours and 45 minutes (one optional 10-minute break following the third section)

Cost of the GRE: $205 (except in India: $213 and China: $231)

Location & dates: You can test at home, which is available seven days a week! You can book your appointment after you register on the official website.

The other option would be testing at a centre, where you can only book appointments on specific dates depending on the location. You can find test centres near you on the GRE website.

Scores: On test day, you can choose up to four graduate institutions to receive your scores with no additional fee. But, if you want to send more than four, you will need to order an additional score reportand pay.

Validity: 5 years 

How to prepare for the GRE?

The ETS GRE offers a variety of free and low-cost tools to help you prepare for the test, whether it was through videos, practice tests, or even books and services. 

What is the GMAT?

The GMAT stands for Graduate Management Admission Test and it is a computer-based entrance exam that is widely used for admission to business schools and MBA programs. 

More than 7000 programs at 2300 business schools recognize it and trust it to make admission decisions. This test demonstrates your commitment and ability to succeed in business school. 

It is designed to measure your critical thinking and reasoning skills, the two most relevant skills to the world’s top graduate business programs.

The GMAT format contains four sections. Check out the test content:

  • Analytical Writing: This section has one 30-minute writing task to measure your ability to communicate your ideas.
  • Integrated Reasoning: This is not found on the GRE; it is designed to measure your ability to use data to solve complex problems and includes one 30-minute section with 12 questions (mostly multiple choice). You can use a calculator.
  • Quantitative Reasoning: This 62-minute section has 31 multiple-choice questions. You can use a whiteboard or a notebook to work through problems. 
  • Verbal Reasoning: The Verbal Reasoning section lasts 65 minutes and contains 36 questions designed to test your ability to read, understand, and evaluate written materials. 

During the GMAT, you cannot skip and return to questions or change your answers. 

This is because it is a computer-adaptive exam, meaning that if you answer the first question correctly, the computer will usually give you a harder question. If you answer the first question incorrectly, your next question will be easier. 

A woman is sitting on her desk with her laptop in front of her and her headphones on

GMAT Duration: 3 hours and 30 minutes (two optional 8-minute breaks) in person; 3 hours (optional 5-minute break) online

Cost of the GMAT: $275 in person; $250 online 

Location & dates: The GMAT is available at a testing center or home. There are small differences between the two experiences.

For example, the GMAT online is more flexible when it comes to booking appointments since testing time slots are available 24/7. Check out this article that explains the differences in more detail. 

Scores: With the GMAT Online, you can send your score report to an unlimited number of schools for free. Whereas for the in-person GMAT, you’re allowed to send to 5 institutions for free, but if you want to send more you will be charged a fee.

Validity: 5 years

How to prepare for the GMAT?

You can visit the GMAT website to find the 10 steps to follow to prepare for this exam, including accessing a free practice starter kit!

Which test is right for you – GMAT or GRE?

Most people would agree that you should choose GMAT if you want to apply to a business school and choose GRE if you’re still undecided on the type of graduate program. 

And while this is true, there are other things that you should consider as well, such as looking at the individual sections of both tests to decide which types of questions suit you better.

For example, experts say the quantitative questions on the GMAT are generally more difficult than those on the GRE. So, if you have strong math skills, and plan to apply to a program that needs those skills, then you may want to take the GMAT.

You also should know that the GRE verbal section is generally more difficult than the GMAT verbal section for non-natives.

Basically, there isn’t a rule that you should follow to know which test you should take. You just need to look deeply into the content and do some practice tests for both to see which one felt easier for you. 

Institutions do not generally favor one over the other as long as you meet the score requirements! 

Did you find this content useful? If yes, make sure to share it with your friends who want to apply to graduate programs abroad to learn about the differences between the GRE and GMAT! 😉

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