Historically, the GMAT has always been the key to business school admissions. But as of 2013, many business schools now accept the GRE. At this point, it’s clear that more students are still taking the GMAT, but the percent of GRE testers is rising.
There are a couple reasons for this:
(1) Some students find it to be an easier test.
(2) There is speculation that business schools will accept a lower GRE score relative to a GMAT score. Why? It’s unclear but the data shows that the average percentile GRE score is lower. At Wharton for example, the average GRE score was in the 65th percentile, while the average GMAT score was in the 94th percentile.
As a result of this new trend, many aspiring business school applicants are asking the question: Which test will look stronger on my business school application? The GRE or the GMAT?
We can’t say for sure which test is preferred by business schools, but can say one thing: Regardless of speculation, aspiring business school applicants should take the test that will best showcase their strengths.
To figure out which test will best serve you, let’s first start by comparing the nuts and bolts of the GRE and the GMAT:
|How||Paper-based and computer-based formats||Computer-based format|
|Verbal content||Emphasis on vocabulary||Emphasis on grammar|
|Quantitative Content||Same concepts but the question format is easier||Same content but the questions are tricky and often ask students to apply the concept in an unfamiliar way|
|Other content||2 writing samples||Writing sample & Integrated Reasoning section (data interpretation)|
|Time||3 hours 45 minutes||3 hours and 30 minutes|
|Scoring||Scored out of 170; Writing sample scored 1-6||Scored out of 800; Writing sample scored 1-6|
Now that you understand the basic differences between the GRE and the GMAT, consider this set of questions:
Are you decidedly stronger in verbal or math?
If clearly stronger in verbal, take the GRE. The GRE’s emphasis on vocabulary and reading comprehension will better serve a natural verbal student. If clearly stronger in math, take the GMAT. GMAT math is significantly more advanced than GRE math. A GMAT tutor can walk you through the tips and tricks, and you’ll be readily on your way to a high score.
Are you more comfortable taking a test in paper-based format, rather than a computer based format?
If yes, take the GRE. If no, take either.
Are you applying to a variety of degrees, or dual-degree programs?
If yes, take the GRE. The GRE is more broadly applicable and can be used for most graduate programs, except medical school and law school. If no, take either.
Finally, the hardest question because it touches on application strategy: Do you have strong financial or quantitative experiences on your resume?
This is tough because we must weigh your ability to do well with the need to back up your application. While the GMAT can serve to build your quantitative chops on the business application (assuming you do not have business experience or an academic background in math/economics/statistics), it will only help if you can perform well on it (i.e. 80th percentile and above). If your chances of performing better on the GRE math section are higher (i.e. 90th percentile and above), take the GRE.
Not sure what to make of all this? The best way to figure out which test is right for you is to take a practice GRE and a practice GMAT. With that info in hand, a Cambridge Coaching GMAT tutor or GRE tutor can diagnose performance to help you make the decision that will best support your chances at successful business admissions.