If you're considering pursuing a graduate degree in business or a related field, you've likely encountered two common standardized tests: the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). These exams are often a requirement for admission to graduate programs, and which one you should take depends on several factors. In this article, we'll compare the GRE and GMAT, helping you determine which test is the best fit for your academic and career goals.
What Are the GRE and GMAT?
The GRE and GMAT are standardized tests used for graduate school admissions. However, they are designed for different purposes:
GRE (Graduate Record Examination):
- Administered by: Educational Testing Service (ETS)
- Purpose: The GRE is a general test that assesses a student's readiness for graduate-level work. It is commonly used for admissions to a wide range of graduate programs, including business, social sciences, arts and humanities, and natural sciences.
GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test):
- Administered by: Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC)
- Purpose: The GMAT is specifically tailored for graduate business programs, such as MBA (Master of Business Administration) programs. It focuses on assessing skills relevant to business and management.
Key Differences Between GRE and GMAT
While both exams are used for graduate admissions, there are several key differences to consider:
1. Content Focus:
- GRE: The GRE has a more general focus, covering a broader range of subjects, including verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. It is suitable for a wide array of graduate programs.
- GMAT: The GMAT is designed to assess skills relevant to business and management, including analytical writing, integrated reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning. It is primarily used for business programs.
2. Test Format:
- GRE: The GRE includes two essays, two sets of multiple-choice questions (verbal and quantitative), and a research section.
- GMAT: The GMAT features one essay, an integrated reasoning section, a quantitative section, and a verbal section. There is no research section.
- GRE: The GRE is scored on a scale of 130-170 for the verbal and quantitative sections, in one-point increments, and 0-6 for the analytical writing section.
- GMAT: The GMAT is scored on a scale of 200-800 in 10-point increments. The AWA (Analytical Writing Assessment) section is scored separately on a scale of 0-6.
4. Admissions Preferences:
- GRE: An increasing number of business schools now accept GRE scores for MBA admissions, and some have no preference between GRE and GMAT scores.
- GMAT: Historically, the GMAT has been the preferred test for MBA programs, but many schools now accept both GRE and GMAT scores.
Choosing Between GRE and GMAT
The choice between the GRE and GMAT should be based on your specific circumstances and academic and career goals. Here are some factors to consider:
1. Target Program:
- If you are applying exclusively to business or MBA programs, the GMAT may be the safer choice, as it is specifically tailored for these programs.
- If you are considering a wide range of graduate programs, the GRE offers more flexibility and is accepted by a variety of schools.
2. Strengths and Weaknesses:
- Assess your own strengths and weaknesses in terms of the skills tested by each exam. If you excel in certain areas and struggle in others, it may influence your choice of test.
3. Test Format:
- Consider the test format and structure. Some test-takers may find the format of one test more favorable than the other.
4. Preparation Material:
- Explore the availability of test preparation materials and resources for each exam. Ensure that you can access the resources you need to prepare effectively.
5. School Preferences:
- Research the admission requirements and preferences of the specific schools to which you plan to apply. Some schools have clear preferences for one test over the other.
6. Practice Tests:
- Take practice tests for both exams to gauge your performance and comfort level. This can help you make an informed decision.
In summary, the choice between the GRE and GMAT depends on your academic and career goals, strengths and weaknesses, and the specific programs to which you are applying. While the GMAT has historically been the primary choice for business programs, the GRE is now widely accepted, offering greater flexibility for applicants. Careful consideration of your individual circumstances and goals will help you make the right choice between these two exams. Regardless of your choice, dedicated preparation and practice are key to achieving a high score and gaining admission to your desired graduate program. Good luck with your test preparation and future academic endeavors!