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GRE vs. GMAT: Which should you take?

  • by John
  • Jun 10, 2011
  • GRE Blog

Most people don’t get to choose whether to take the GRE or the GMAT: They have to take whichever test their program demands. For business school types, that usually means the GMAT; for most other people doing masters or PhD work, it’s the GRE. But an increasing number of MBA programs are accepting the GRE as well as the GMAT, which means that many MBA students now have a choice of which to take. You can find a list of MBA programs that accept the GRE here. It’s a long list and includes many big-name schools (Wharton, Stern, Harvard), and this trend is likely to continue.

So why does it matter? The GRE and the GMAT try to test almost exactly the same skills, but they do so in slightly different ways. So choosing the test which tests your strongest areas can improve your admissions standards. I’ll review the basic considerations here.

  1. The GMAT has a harder math section. The GMAT asks students to apply slightly more complex math quite a bit more creatively than does the GRE. If you haven’t studied math in a long time, you may be able to cram and do reasonably well on the GRE, but attacking the GMAT will be tougher. So if math is your greatest fear, go for the GRE.
  2. The GRE tests vocab way more than the GMAT. Starting in August 2011, the GRE will be revised to de-emphasize vocab, but until then, knowing a ton of vocabulary is an important part of doing well on the GRE. If your vocab is terrible, or if you’re an ESL student, you should consider taking the GMAT.
  3. The GMAT tests grammar. The GMAT verbal section contains questions that present you with a grammatically incorrect sentence and ask you to correct it. If grammar isn’t your strong suit, then this is bad news! Try a few of these questions. If they give you trouble, you should consider attacking the GRE.

Next Step Test Preparation offers complete packages of one-on-one GRE tutoring for less than the price of a packed prep course.  For more information, see our GRE tutoring page, contact or call 888-530-NEXT.

Photo credit Travis Warren under a Creative Commons license.

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