Let’s be very honest, acronyms like GRE and GMAT can confuse or frustrate anyone.

So, let’s find out what these acronyms really mean! What do the letters stand for and what are the differences between the GRE and the GMAT?

GRE vs GMAT: The Acronyms

Acronyms are meant to make things easier but can be just as confusing as well.

GRE: Graduate Record Examination

GMAT: Graduate Management Admission Tests

You’ve earned your Bachelor’s Degree, said goodbye to your undergraduate years and want to take your education a step further. Congratulations on making that decision! But now you’re left trying to figure out which admissions test you should be taking.

It used to be pretty easy to figure out. If you wanted to go to graduate school, then you took the GRE, and if you wanted to go to business school, then you would take the GMAT examination. Gone are the days of following a “rule of thumb.” Now, there are a lot more business schools that accept that GMAT and/or the GRE. How are you supposed to know which test to take if both could work?

Although plenty of schools accept both examinations, each school still has an exam preference. Sit down and put together a list of schools you’re interested in, then take the time to figure out if they will take GRE scores or GMAT scores.

So now you have a rough idea of which one you should be studying for. But, there’s still more to consider.

GRE vs GMAT: How are the two different?

GREvsGMAT in blog 1

Before we get into how the two differ, one additional question must be answered: which exam is easier?

The answer is as you would expect: neither test is easier or necessarily harder, but you can choose to take the test that plays to your strengths.

Typically, GMAT test-takers have strong analytical and quantitative skills. The GMAT examination is better suited to students with strong problem-solving abilities because they will need to quickly interpret data shown in graphs, tables or charts, whereas the mathematical section on the GRE examination is straightforward and allows students to use calculators.

Test-takers with the skill to quickly understand and use vocabulary tend to opt for the GRE test, but students who have an editorial skill-set usually choose to take the GMAT.

You need to understand and analyze your own skill set to decide which examination would work best in your favor and would display your strengths to the admissions board at the schools you will be applying to.

GRE vs GMAT: The Test

GREvsGMAT in blog 2

We’ve explained how the tests can highlight a student's specific strengths but, sometimes, the time you have to complete a task can work to your disadvantage. The two exams take around three and a half hours to complete, so how is this time split up?

It is worth keeping in mind that the GRE examination is available in both computer and paper formats, whereas the GMAT is only available in computer format.

GRE Guide:

Computer-delivered Test:

Testing

Time

Analytical Writing –

Two individually timed tasks:

  1. Analyze the issue
  2. Analyze the argument

30 minutes per task

60 minutes in total

Verbal Reasoning –

Two sections with 20 questions each

30 minutes per section

60 minutes in total

Quantitative Reasoning –

Two sections with 20 questions each

35 minutes per section

70 minutes in total

Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning –

Unscored and modified for experimental purposes, the number of questions vary

30-35 minutes based on the number of questions

Paper-delivered test

Testing

Time

Analytical Writing –

Two individually timed tasks:

  1. Analyze the issue
  2. Analyze the argument

30 minutes per task

60 minutes in total

Verbal Reasoning –

Two sections with 25 questions each

30 minutes per section

70 minutes in total

Quantitative Reasoning –

Two sections with 25 questions each

35 minutes per section

70 minutes in total

GMAT Guide:

Computer-delivered Test

Testing

Time

Analytical Writing –

One timed task:

  • Analyze the argument

30 minutes

Integrated Reasoning –

12 questions in total

30 minutes

Quantitative Reasoning –

31 questions in total

62 minutes

Verbal Reasoning –

36 questions in total

65 minutes

GRE vs GMAT: Score Comparison


GREvsGMAT in blog 3

Comparing these two tests and their grading system is like comparing apples and oranges, they’re just different!

Before taking the exam, you need to research the schools you’ve chosen to know the score ranges they require for admission. This also means that you need to understand how the tests are graded.

GRE Scores:

This test is graded based on the three sections:

  • The Verbal Reasoning section has a 130-170 score scale, granting one point per task.
  • The Quantitative Reasoning section has a 130-170 score scale, granting one point per task.
  • The Analytical Writing section has a 0-6 score scale, granting half a point per task.

GMAT Scores:

The official GMAT score report will have five parts:

  • The Verbal Reasoning section has a 0-60 score scale.
  • The Quantitative Reasoning section has a 0-60 score scale.
  • The Verbal and Quantitative total score has a 200-800 score scale, this is the score most students refer to.
  • The Integrated Reasoning Section has a 1-8 score scale
  • The Analytical Writing Assessment [AWA] Section has a 0-6 score scale.

GRE vs GMAT: How do you decide?

GREvsGMAT in blog 4

If it is unclear which examination your school of choice accepts, then it can leave you feeling a little unsure when trying to compare the two exams. SchoolApply can help you figure out which of the schools on your list accept the GRE, which accept the GMAT, and which accept scores from both exams.

So, the best way to decide between the GRE and the GMAT is to jump right in and take a couple of practice exams and get a feel for each one. Just remember, whatever test you choose to take, you still need to prepare for it if you want to get the admission officer’s attention!

About the Author: When she's not busy running, training or enjoying a freshly brewed cup of coffee, Amy Saraireh can be found writing to fill a blank page with the things she's learned or experienced.