GRE-GMAT —A comparison

Generally it is seen that GRE is a more general test which any student applying for a graduation degree course can take. On the other hand, students who intend to apply for management or business courses prefer to take the GMAT test. However, now-a-days, more and more business schools are accepting GRE scores as a measurement for giving admission. Thus, students often get confused whether to take the GRE test, which gives a broader range of options, or to take the GMAT test, especially if business courses are a priority. Here we take a look at both the pros and cons of each of the tests.

GRE — the Pros:

  • It has a broader range; as a result, students not certain about which subject to take for the graduation course can have more options by taking this test. Also, if someone is confident not to take a business course, GRE is the one for him.
  • It is available to most students. It is administered all over the world, and it certainly has a greater reach than GMAT.
  • It costs less. The cost of GRE test is lesser than that of GMAT. Thus, the test becomes an obvious choice for students having economical limitations.
  • GRE test takes less time while compared to the GMAT test. Considering the fact that both the tests are long enough to test any student’s stamina, it is certainly a good thing for the students that the GRE test ends sooner.
  • Subject test: The GRE test has an optional Subject Test which provides the students with an option to show off their skills in any specific field of study. However, this is not required by management courses, and generally students from other branches of study take the Subject Test.

GMAT — the Pros:

  • Business schools prefer GMAT scores. This is one good reason for a prospective management student to opt for the test. While GRE scores are accepted by some institutions, they require the students to have a high score in the Quantitative Reasoning section mainly.
  • It is time-tested for business courses. GMAT test's score is a requirement for most business schools for over 50 years now, and many experienced persons in this field acknowledge that higher GMAT score is often reflected in better results in business courses. GRE is yet to take the test of time, as far as management courses are concerned.
  • No unscored section: The GRE test may or may not contain additional unscored sections for experimentation and research purposes. Most think that this makes the test more uncertain and even unfair, because it is not fixed for every student taking the test. The GMAT test does not have any such sections.

The revised version of the GRE test, incorporates several changes that are primarily aimed at making the test more acceptable to business schools. This way, it has become more confusing for the students. It is no more as easy to say that GMAT is for management courses and GRE is for graduation courses in general. Let’s take a look at the differences of the two tests in terms of content or structure of each test, and how the revised GRE test attempts to bridge the gap.

GRE-GMAT — a Side-by-side Look:

  • It was a common perception that the verbal section of the GRE test is tougher, while the mathematical reasoning section of the GMAT test requires deeper quantitative reasoning skills. Thus, the GRE test was considered comparatively easier, especially for students with good knowledge of the English language. The revised version of the test attempts to blur this distinction by removing stress from out-of-context vocabulary, and presenting problems related to real-life situations. The test focuses on a student’s overall understanding of the English language and his ability for logical thinking. It does not require the students to have any special abilities.
  • Both the tests have three similar sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Analytical Writing. The Analytical Writing section GRE has two tasks: developing an argument from a given issue and critically analyzing a given argument; GMAT does not have. The other two sections are similar, but not identical; the question types differ slightly. The Verbal section of the GRE test has Text Completion, Sentence Equivalence and Reading Comprehension questions; the Verbal section of the GMAT test contains questions on Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension. Analogies and antonyms have been removed from the revised GRE test. The Quantitative section of GRE contains Quantitative Comparison, Data Interpretation and Problem Solving questions, but the questions of the GMAT test Data Sufficiency and Problem Solving. While this section of the GRE test previously had multiple-choice type questions only, the new revised version of the test introduces Numerical Data Entry questions which require the students to put the correct answer in a blank space rather than choosing it from a list. GMAT also has an Integrated Reasoning section, which is pretty novel and difficult.
  • The scores of both the tests are valid for five years from the day of taking the test. The score scale of the verbal and quantitative sections of the revised GRE test is 130-170 with 1-point increments, while previously it was 200-800 with 10-point increments. On the other hand, the total score scale of the GMAT test is 200-800, while the scores of the verbal and quantitative sections range from 0-60. The score scale of the Analytical writing section of both the tests is from 0 to 6 for both the tasks.

A Few Final Words:

The above discussion shows that the GRE and GMAT tests have many things in common, and ETS is trying hard to compete with the GMAT test. Finally, as a student, you need to be clear about which stream to take or which college to go for. Once that is decided, you can learn from the college authorities which test they prefer. If it comes out that there is a choice between the two tests, then you can try to take up practice tests to understand which test can better analyze your skills. That should make things clearer to you as to which of the two tests you need to take.