GRE vs. MAT: What is the difference? Which should I take?

Student Progress / GRE vs. MAT

Continuing graduate studies is surely a big step and a venture to take. Since most graduate students are working professionals, it’s an extra challenge to find time to complete all the necessary requirements. This includes the admissions tests. Two of the most well-known standardized exams for graduate school are the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and the Miller Analogies Test (MAT). It can be confusing which exam one should take. That’s why this article would be helpful to help decide which exam should be taken and what the significant differences between these two are.

A comparison of differences between the GRE and MAT is presented below:

GRE vs. MAT: Differences and Similarities
  • Used for a wide variety of graduate programs
  • The GRE measures:
    • verbal reasoning skills
    • quantitative reasoning skills
    • analytical writing skills
    • critical thinking skills
  • Used for a wide variety of graduate programs
  • The MAT measures analytical thinking skills.
  • Analytical Writing (Essay)
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Experimental (Verbal or Quantitative)
  • Semantic
  • Classification
  • Association
  • Logical/Mathematical
Number of Questions100 multiple-choice questions120 four-part analogy questions or


120 analogy-based questions

FormatComputer-delivered testing and paper-based testingComputer-adaptive testing and paper-based testing
ScoringScores for each section range from 130-170 in 1 point


increments for verbal and quantitative reasoning.

The Analytical Writing section is scored separately.

MAT scores can range from 200 to 600
Cost$205$70 to $100 depending on the location
Exam Time3 hours and 30 minutes (Paper-Based)


3 hours and 45 minutes (Computer-Adaptive Test)

1 hour
Time per Question1 minute and 40 seconds per question30 seconds per question
Validity5 years5 years

The differences and similarities between the GRE and MAT are presented in the table above. These are further explained in the following sections.

GRE vs. MAT: Purpose

The MAT and GRE are taken by students who plan on attending graduate school. Although similar in use, these two tests differ in what they measure. The GRE tests prospective graduate students’ readiness for postgraduate studies, while the MAT is intended to test an applicant’s analytical thinking, higher-level thinking skills, and general academic knowledge.

GRE vs. MAT: Structure

The GRE has three major exam sections while the MAT has only one section. GRE’s three main topic areas are divided into six exam sections namely the verbal reasoning section, quantitative reasoning section, and analytical writing section. On the other hand, the MAT has only one section consisting of questions from mathematics, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. The MAT uses four types of analogy: classification, association, semantic, and logical/mathematical.

GRE vs. MAT: Format

Both the GRE and MAT offer computer-based and paper-delivered test administration formats. However, there is quite a difference in the computer-based testing format. For the GRE, the computer-based test is taken in the comfort of the test taker’s home. For the MAT, the computer-based test is only taken in accredited testing centres. Also, not all MAT testing centres offer both formats. Each testing centre decides whether to deliver a paper-based or computer-based MAT.

GRE vs. MAT: Scoring

Since the GRE has more test sections than the MAT, there will be more scores obtained in the GRE. There will be three scores on the former and only one score on the latter. The GRE Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections are scored the same way and can range from 130 to 170, while the GRE Analytical Writing section score ranges from 0 to 6, in half-point increments. These scores are not combined into a single score and are reported separately. On the other hand, there will only be one MAT score ranging from 200 to 600.

GRE vs. MAT: Cost

$205 is the fee for the GRE while the MAT costs $70 to $100 depending on the testing centre.

GRE vs. MAT: Testing Time

The testing time of the two tests differs significantly because of the sections covered. 3 hours and 45 minutes are given to GRE test takers. On the other hand, 60 minutes is given to MAT test takers. This seems fair since the GRE covers more test sections. This test duration is applicable for the GRE computer-adaptive testing only. For the paper-based testing of the GRE, 3 hours and 30 minutes are given. For MAT, both test formats have the same testing time.

GRE vs. MAT: Validity

The 5-year validity period applies to both MAT and GRE scores. Both the GRE and MAT scores are available for reporting 5 years after the test date.

What do the GRE and MAT cover and how are they different?

The GRE and MAT cover different test sections which is why it’s quite difficult to compare these two. But to explain the differences, here it goes. The GRE test sections are verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. This includes a research section that is unscored and is only used by ETS for future test development. For the MAT, from the name itself, most of the exam content is word analogies from the name itself. This includes analogies that are numbers, symbols, or word parts. These items were deduced from everyday topics like transportation, education, food, clothing, common expressions, and tools. Lastly, MAT claims to measure one’s knowledge of subjects including art, history, math, and science.

What are the advantages of taking the MAT over the GRE?

Although the two tests have the same use, which is for graduate school applications, they have their own pros to offer. Listed below are the advantages of taking the MAT rather than the GRE.

  1. It is very much evident how the format of the MAT is shorter than the GRE. It has only one question type which is word analogies and it is taken for only an hour. Compared to the GRE which covers multiple types of questions and is taken for almost four hours.
  2. The MAT is heavily weighted towards verbal questions which explains why students appreciate MAT more. This is because test-takers often dread the subject of mathematics. Not everyone is a fan of it, and not everyone sees the fun in solving arithmetic. Its math questions are also significantly easier than the GRE. Also, the math questions are only present in the logical/mathematical section.
  3. Since the question type the MAT has is only word analogies, there is no construction of essays and passages. People who find it difficult to write effective articles or even those who are not fluent in English see this as an advantage.
  4. It has a greater emphasis on subject-matter knowledge and vocabulary. It would be a big advantage to students with a strong vocabulary and wide-academic knowledge.

MAT offers several advantages to graduate school applicants. Compared to the GRE, it is shorter, does not focus on mathematics but rather on vocabulary, and has no essay writing.

What are the advantages of taking the GRE over the MAT?

Other than being more popular, there are more advantages to taking the GRE General Test. These advantages are the following:

  1. The question types in the GRE are more common to examinees since they are similar to those taken in university. However, for the MAT its question types are analogies so some examinees might find this confusing which can lead to test errors.
  2. Compared to the MAT, most people believe the logistics of registering for the GRE are easier and speedier. It is viewed to be more straightforward and centralized than the MAT.
  3. Lastly, more universities are accepting the GRE over the MAT. The GRE is more popular and there are only very few universities that have declared their acceptance of the MAT. Perhaps, it is still best to ask the universities for the list of tests they accept before taking any just to be safe.

Like the MAT, the GRE has its own advantages, too. Some students may view it as a difficult test but as long as study habits are formed, and there is a consistent schedule of answering practice tests. Make sure to utilize the official practice tests from Educational Testing Service (ETS) to be familiar with the format and exam content of the actual exam.

Should I take the GRE or the MAT?

The GRE General Test is the safer choice for grad school among these tests. The GRE is more popular and accepted by more universities. It is definitely the better choice over the MAT. Experts say that the MAT should only be taken if an examinee is sure that the score to be obtained is way higher than the GRE and that the target schools and programs accept such an admission test. Both exams have their own distinct features, advantages, and disadvantages. A student must be wise to choose which of these two would he/she benefit more. However, do not forget to check the target schools’ list of application requirements to see which test do the admissions officers prefer or require.

Should I take the GRE or MAT for law school?

GRE should be taken for law school over MAT. Law schools usually require the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) but after many years, they started to accept the GRE as well. On the other hand, the MAT is not considered an alternative to the LSAT.

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