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GMAT vs GRE: Which admissions test is best for you?


Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

Preparing for graduate school can involve stressful choices, and picking which admissions test to take is no different. Between the Graduate Record Exam and Graduate Management Admission Test, deciding which one is the better choice for today’s soon-to-be graduate students depends on multiple factors.

It is worth noting that the Graduate Record Exam is required for admission to a majority of graduate schools and a handful of business schools, while the Graduate Management Admission Test is only taken for admission to business schools, according to the Princeton Review.

The GMAT and the GRE have accepted test scores in approximately 96 percent of MBA programs surveyed, with 86 percent of programs reporting that both test scores receive equal weight in the admissions process, according to a Kaplan survey reported by U.S. News & World Report.

While the same survey showed 13 percent of programs slightly preferred GMAT test scores, some experts recommend taking the exam that more naturally aligns with your personal skill set. 

The admissions exams cover a similar subject matter, offering questions that correspond to three main subjects: verbal, quantitative and writing, according to Prep Scholar.

However, the differences in how the subjects are tackled may be key in helping each student decide which test to take.

With the GRE focusing more on textbook math, the GMAT places a strong emphasis on one’s ability to problem solve using logic. The GRE covers vocabulary more heavily, and the GMAT tends to rely on a strong knowledge of grammar.

Another important factor to consider is the difference in test format. While both tests adapt to whoever is taking them, the GRE allows students to skip difficult questions and come back to them later, which can be helpful for students dealing with test anxiety, according to U.S. News & World Report.

However, according to Kaplan, the adaptive nature of the GMAT means that those taking it can get more high-difficulty questions wrong all while managing a decent score. Whereas a student would need to answer nearly every question correctly on the GRE to get a high score.

At the end of the day, every student is different, so it’s all a matter of how much research is put into finding that right fit.

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