- by guest writer Vera Marie Reed

As more MBA programs begin to accept GRE scores as an alternative to the GMAT, prospective business school students now must make the careful choice between which exam to take. Although both exams are used to gauge skills that will be valuable in MBA courses, figuring out which exam to take involves a little reflection to figure out what might be more beneficial for you.

  • Are you ONLY considering an MBA? The GRE is accepted by most MBA programs and other graduate programs but the GMAT is accepted by only MBA programs. The first step to figuring out which exam to take is to figure out whether you are focused on only earning an MBA or if you might be considering other graduate programs. The GRE might be the better option if you are between programs. Since the GMAT is specifically for MBA students many MBA programs prefer this exam even if they will consider GRE scores.
  • What are your strengths?  Both exams involve measuring certain skills for MBA candidates but each section of the exam can differ greatly. Figuring out where your strengths lie can help you gauge which exam might work best with your stronger skillsets. For example, the GRE’s verbal section is much more heavily based on vocabulary whereas the GMAT’s verbal section emphasizes grammar much more.  So if you are stronger with grammar you might want to consider the GMAT over the GRE. However, looking at the exams overall is also beneficial. The GMAT is much more based in measuring critical thinking and analytical skills so if these are your strong suits you might want to consider this exam more. The GRE is meant for various graduate programs so it is focused around measuring skills that would be needed for graduate students in general not specific skills MBA students would need.
  • What is your preparation plan?  Whether you decide to take the GRE or the GMAT you will need to some prepping and planning before either exam. However, preparation is very different for each exam. The GRE consists of a 60-minute Analytical Writing section with two 30-minute essays. There is also a Verbal Reasoning section with two 30-minute parts and two 35-minute Quantitative Reasoning sections. The exam will also include a 30-35 minute section that could be either math or verbal. The GMAT, on the other hand, has a 30-minute analytic section with one essay and a 30-minute Integrated Reasoning section. The exam also has two 75-minute sections with one focusing on Quantitative and the other Verbal. Since the GMAT focuses more on problem solving and analytical thinking rather than just finding the right answer, test-takers might need more preparation for this exam. Prepping for this exam involves practicing more than just average math skills or vocabulary but more so practicing reasoning skills that will reflect how you might encounter issues in the job field.
  • How is your overall experience for candidacy? Test perception is also something you should consider. Although some programs say they will take a GRE score in place of a GMAT score, a GMAT score might still be more preferable. Since the GRE is accepted by all graduate programs, not just MBA, the exam’s emphasis tends to be on scoring in a decent percentile. Graduate programs will tend to weigh acceptance on other factors more than just your GRE score. Your experiences and previous education can help elevate your candidacy more than the percentile you scored in. On the other hand, the GMAT is a very specific exam that is looking for skills that are appealing for MBA students. Since this exam is very specific for a certain type of program, more emphasis might be considered in your score for this exam. A GMAT score might not be the only factor admission officers will consider, but these scores do tend to have more importance in MBA programs in comparison to how GRE scores weigh in other programs.

Both exams involve preparation and dedication, but each exam will showcase different strengths in students. Thus consider where you excel most and how you plan on using your degree in your career in the future. Try doing both a practice GRE and practice GMAT to gauge how well you might do in either exam. Also remember that no matter which exam you choose to take, your previous work experience and achievements also play a part in your candidacy. MBA programs might consider these scores as ways to predict how well a student will perform in their program, but they are not the only factor that admission committees consider.



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