Now that you’ve decided that you want to get an MBA, you sit down to make your application checklist.
You write down your deadlines.
You start looking at required exams…the GRE. Wait, no. The GMAT?
Graduate business programs in the U.S. can require the GRE or the GMAT for admission. Before you decide which exam you need to take, you need to have a few things clear:
- What schools you want to apply to
- How strong your language and math skills are
What is the GMAT?
The GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is a standardized test that is used during the admission process by more than 7,000 business programs around the world.
What is the main difference between the GMAT and the GRE?
The main difference between these two exams is that the GMAT is an exam that is required only for MBA programs. The GRE on the other hand is a standardized test that is used for the admissions process for a variety of master’s programs (e.g. psychology, engineering, architecture). So if you plan on applying for an MBA, you can
- take the GRE,
- take the GMAT, or
- take both.
GMAT vs GRE
The cost of the GMAT exam is slightly higher than the GRE exam, depending on the country where you take the test. The GMAT currently costs $250 world-wide. The GRE, on the other hand, can range from $205 – $255.
Both exams are very similar in structure, but do have some differences. The GMAT has one additional section called integrated reasoning. This section focuses on interpreting and analyzing large amounts of data (numbers, graphs, and text) to see relationships and solve problems.
Although the GMAT has one extra section, the exam takes about 15 minutes less than the GRE.
- GMAT: 3 hours and 30 minutes
- GRE: 3 hours and 45 minutes
Another slight difference can be seen in the types of questions used to evaluate verbal reasoning. On the GRE you have sentence completion, while on the GMAT you have sentence correction.
- Sentence completion: To do well on sentence completion questions, having a large vocabulary is very useful.
- Sentence correction: These type of questions are perfect if you have great grammar skills.
Should I take the GRE or the GMAT?
The test you have to take will really depend on the university requirements. But to help you make the right decision, here are a few things you should consider.
1. Do I have an option?
This is the first question you should ask yourself. Some universities and MBA programs won’t give you the option to decide and will require that you take the GMAT. If the university does not require the GMAT, then it is common for them to give you the option of submitting scores for either exam.
We recommend making a list of the universities and programs that you would like to attend and their requirements. This will help you realize what options you actually have.
If your top choices require the GMAT, then you should plan on taking it. If all the universities on the list give you the option to submit GRE or GMAT scores, then you can decide which exam you want to take.
You can also see above that there are some schools that do no require either exam as part of the admission process. If a university does not require an admissions exam, you can still submit it. Many times submitting a score can make your application stronger and also help you qualify for any competitive scholarships available.
2. What did I get my undergraduate degree in?
If you’ve decided to study an MBA but do not have a background in business, finance, or accounting, you should consider trying to get a high score on the GMAT. It is likely that your application will be reviewed alongside applicants with a bachelor’s degree related to business, so submitting a high GMAT score (even if not required) will make your a more competitive candidate.
3. What kind of test taker am I?
Standardized tests are not easy for everyone. If you are a person who may suffer from test anxiety, you may be lucky if you can choose between the GMAT or GRE. On the GRE, you are allowed to skip around the test. This means that if you see a difficult question, you can skip it and come back later. Keep in mind you can only move between questions within a section. You cannot skip between sections (i.e. move from verbal to quantitative).Being able to skip around can help you in the following ways:
- You can optimize your testing time. Doing all the “easy” questions first and then using the rest of your time to finish the “difficult” ones.
- You can go back and check your answers. This will help you reduce stress or anxiety caused by doubting yourself. If you finish early, you can go back and review any questions you weren’t sure about.
The GMAT, on the other hand, does not have this structure. If you choose to skip a question on the GMAT, you will not be able to go back to it.
4. What are my strengths?
Generally speaking, the GMAT is considered to be more math focused. This explains the additional section of integrated reasoning. If you think that you are better at math, you should consider taking the GMAT.
The best way to see which test you will do better on is to take a practice exam. You can take online practice exams for both the GMAT and GRE. After taking these tests, you can reflect on which you found harder, more stressful, etc. Also be sure to compare your score to the minimum score required by your MBA program.
If you are interested in working with an exam coach for the GMAT or GRE, be sure to visit the Epro 360 online store where you can choose to work with a private coach or register for an online academy.