GRE vs. GMAT: Which exam is best for aspiring business students?

For 70 years, the answer to this question has been simple – take the GMAT if you’re entering a business school. However, over the last few years, more and more universities started to accept GRE in lieu of the GMAT. Admission tests like these two are fundamental in the postgraduate school application. Through these tests, school executives or reviewers get a complete picture of an applicant fits a program. Since these tests are standardized, it is easier to make an evaluation and comparison among and between applicants during the admission process.

A comparison of differences between the GRE and GMAT is presented below.

GRE vs. GMAT: Differences and Similarities
GRE GMAT
Structure Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Experimental (Verbal or Quantitative) Analytical Writing, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning
Scoring Scores for each section range from 130-170 in 1 point

increments for verbal and quantitative reasoning.

The Analytical Writing section is scored separately.

The total score ranges from 200-800 in 10-point increments.

Integrated Reasoning and Analytical Writing are scored separately.

Cost \$205 \$250
Testing Time 3 hours and 30 minutes (Paper-Based)

3 hours and 45 minutes (Computer-Based)

3 hours and 30 minutes
Validity 5 years 5 years

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

GRE vs. GMAT: Purpose

The GMAT is required for admission to business schools, whereas the GRE is required for entrance to a variety of postgraduate programs. This is the most significant distinction between the two tests. Some would suggest looking at these tests’ purposes when undecided about which to take. Specifically, they would propose taking the GMAT if applying to business school and GRE if uncertain about which path to take. This can be partially true, but it is not enough to decide.

GRE vs. GMAT: Structure

Both tests consist of 4 sections. The GRE’s test sections are verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and experimental section which may be verbal or quantitative. On the other hand, GMAT’s test sections are integrated reasoning, quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and analytical writing. Though almost similar in structure, these tests still differ in terms of the number of items present in each section. Particularly, GRE’s test sections except for the experimental section all have 2 sections each.

GRE vs. GMAT: Format

Computer-adaptive testing is offered both in the GRE and the GMAT. But GRE paper-based testing is still administered to test takers who live in locations where computer-based testing is not available. Computer-delivered testing re-estimates an examiner’s ability based on his performance in the previous section. This way, the computer can adapt to a test taker’s ability level.

GRE vs. GMAT: Scoring

The GRE and GMAT score ranges operate on different scales. A GRE score may go from 130 to 170 in 1-point increment for the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections. For the Analytical Writing section, a 6-point scale for each response task is used to score. Thus, a total GRE score may range from 260 to 340. On the other hand, a GMAT score can go from 200 to 800 in 10-point increments for the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections. The Integrated Reasoning and the AWA sections are scored independently. It is important to note before making comparisons and conversions that it is necessary to understand how these tests are scored and how much each section is worth.

GRE vs. GMAT: Cost

\$205 is the fee for the GRE General Test while the GMAT costs \$250. This price may vary depending on the location of the test taker. Australia, China, Turkey, India, Nigeria and other European countries have different fees than the United States. Some countries rate slightly cheaper while others are slightly more expensive.

GRE vs. GMAT: Testing Time

Testing time of the GRE and GMAT are closely like each other. 3 hours and 45 minutes is given to GRE test takers while 3 hours and 30 minutes for the GMAT examinees. This test duration is applicable for the computer-adaptive testing only. For the paper-based testing of the GRE, 3 hours and 30 minutes is given.

For a more specific testing time for each section, refer to the table below.

Test Duration: GRE and GMAT Test Sections
GRE GMAT
Verbal Reasoning 2 sections

30 minutes each

1 section

65 minutes

Quantitative Reasoning 2 sections

35 minutes each

1 section

62 minutes

Analytical Writing 2 essays

30 minutes each

1 essay

30 minutes

Experimental 1 section

30 or 35 minutes

Integrated Reasoning 1 section

30 minutes

GRE vs. GMAT: Validity

The 5-year validity period is applicable for both GMAT and GRE scores. The GRE scores are available for reporting for 5 years after the test date while GMAT scores are reportable for up to 10 years.

What do the GRE and GMAT Cover and How Are They Different?

The GRE and GMAT cover similar test sections which include analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning. However, both tests cover an additional section that the other test does not. GRE covers an experimental section which may be verbal or quantitative and the GMAT covers integrated reasoning.

Verbal Sections: GMAT vs GRE

GRE and GMAT verbal sections differ in many aspects. Most evident is that GRE focuses on a test taker’s vocabulary while the GMAT tests an examinee’s grammar. Other differences between the GRE and GMAT include:

Differences between GRE Verbal and GMAT Verbal
GRE GMAT
The GRE Verbal section tests reading comprehension, text completion, and sentence equivalence. The GMAT Verbal section tests reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction.
The GRE Verbal section has 2 sections. The GMAT Verbal section has only 1.
The GRE Verbal section has 40 questions (20 questions for each question). The GMAT Verbal section has 41 questions.
The GRE Verbal section may be taken for 30 minutes per section. The GMAT Verbal section may be taken for 75 minutes.
Scores for the GRE Verbal section may range from 130 to 170. For the GMAT Verbal section, scores may range from 0 to 60.

Differences between the GRE and GMAT Verbal Reasoning section are presented above. These two test sections differ in skills measured, number of test sections, number of questions, test duration and score range.

Read More: GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice

Quantitative: GMAT vs GRE

GRE and GMAT quantitative sections are quite similar in the mathematical concepts covered but each test has a different approach. Differences between the quantitative sections of the GRE and GMAT are as follows:

Differences between GRE Quantitative and GMAT Quantitative
GRE GMAT
The GRE Quantitative section tests arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis. The GMAT Quantitative section tests data sufficiency and problem-solving.
The GRE Quantitative section has 2 sections. The GMAT Quantitative section has 1.
The GRE Quantitative section has 40 questions (20 questions for each question). The GMAT Quantitative section has 37 questions.
The GRE Quantitative section may be taken for 30 minutes per section. The GMAT Quantitative section may be taken for 75 minutes.
Scores for the GRE Quantitative section may range from 130 to 170. For the GMAT Quantitative section, scores may range from 0 to 60.

Differences between the GRE and GMAT Quantitative Reasoning section are presented above. These two test sections differ in skills measured, number of test sections, number of questions, test duration and score range.

Analytical Writing: GMAT vs GRE

The number of essays needed to compose is the main difference between the Analytical Writing sections of the GRE and the GMAT. Differences between the GRE and GMAT Analytical Writing section are as follows:

Differences between GRE Verbal and GMAT Verbal
GRE GMAT
The GRE Analytical Writing section tests an examinee’s ability to analyze an issue and analyze an argument. The GMAT Analytical Writing section tests the ability to analyze an argument only.
In the GRE Analytical Writing section, 2 essays must be written. In the GMAT Analytical Writing section, only 1 essay is needed.
The GRE Analytical Writing is 60 minutes (30 minutes per task). The GMAT Analytical Writing test duration is 30 minutes.

Differences between the GRE and GMAT Analytical Writing section are presented above. These two test sections differ in skills measured, number of essays, and test duration.

Read More: GRE Analytical Writing Section

Which admission test is easier, GRE or GMAT?

The overall difficulty level of the GRE and the GMAT is fairly similar. The better question would be which test section of both tests is more difficult.

GRE Verbal vs. GMAT Verbal: Which is harder?

The GRE Verbal Reasoning is considered by test takers to be more difficult than GMAT. Though these two tests measure the same set of skills of reading comprehension, grammar, and critical thinking, GRE is viewed to be more challenging in this test section. Non-native English speakers find this test harder since the GRE includes more strenuous vocabulary and reading passages. Therefore, the GRE Verbal Reasoning section is viewed to be easier.

GRE Quantitative vs. GMAT Quantitative: Which is harder?

The GMAT Quantitative section is viewed to be harder than the GRE Quantitative section. The quantitative sections of both exams assess similar topics of high school mathematics education such as data interpretation and problem-solving. Nonetheless, the GMAT is still viewed to be more difficult as it requires more analysis and critical thinking from the examinee. Thus, test takers who have impressive quantitative and analytical skills will score better on the GMAT.

GRE Analytical Writing vs. GMAT Analytical Writing: Which is harder?

Some test takers consider GRE to be more difficult as it requires two essays – one for the Issue Task and one for the Argument Task. But the difficulty level of the GMAT and GRE Analytical Writing sections are very similar. These two tests are also equal in terms of procedure and technical aspects. Nonetheless, these test sections could be viewed as equal because justifiable time is given to examinees. That is, 30 minutes for the single essay in the GMAT and 60 minutes or an hour for the two essays in the GRE.

Can a GRE score be converted to a GMAT score?

Yes, a GRE score can be converted to a GMAT score. There are tools online that help test takers calculate their predicted GMAT score based on their GRE Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning scores. Specifically, Educational Testing Service (EST), the maker of GRE, developed a tool for converting scores in GRE to GMAT equivalent scores. This tool allows examinees to predict their verbal, quantitative, and overall scores.

Which test should I take for MBA Admission?

Taking either the GRE or the GMAT can admit potential students to graduate programs including MBA. Historically, the GMAT has been prioritized over the GRE. However, a growing number of international business schools now accept both tests.

What score should I get in GMAT and GRE for MBA Programs?

A test taker should get an average score of 310 to 315 in GRE or 650 to 690 in GMAT to enroll in an MBA program. These are good scores to be admitted into leading business schools.