MBA, (Master of Business Administration) has been at the peak of attraction for students in the past few years. It was always and will continue to be a promising course for students wishing to own a ‘great going’ business.

Deciding to take admission for MBA is a big step for aspiring managers. The basic criteria for studying MBA in most of the popular study abroad destinations are:

  1. You should have completed your graduation and your degree should be from a recognized university
  2. You should have a minimum cut-off score, which entirely depends on the university for which you wish to apply.

We know that there are several entrance tests for various courses; similarly, admission for MBA also demands qualifications of entrance exams like GRE, GMAT, etc. The entrance test which is to be conducted for admission in MBA varies and depends on the institution. Students are often confused between these two and wonder which they should give. Confusion occurs by a lack of knowledge, so in this article, we’ll have a brief overview of both the entrance exams and will also try to figure out which is best amongst the two.

GRE or GMAT: Which one is more suitable for MBA abroad

Students must note that their admission to any school abroad does not only depend on these entrance tests. The score plays a very important role but the confirmation of admission depends on other factors and your overall profile. But these exams are mandatory and keeping that in mind, now let’s see them one by one and try to compare both the tests by understanding them individually.

GRE (Graduate Record Examination)

It is an assessment test started and regulated by the Educational Testing Service and was established in 1936 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. This test is for undergraduate students about to graduate or are already graduated. Every year, approximately 585,000 students appear for this test.

The exam aims to test the knowledge and skills related to analytical writing, critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning which are supposed to be acquired by the students during their educational years and are necessary for higher education. Many graduate schools and universities demand the qualification of this test in the United States and Canada. This test is either computer-based or paper-based. The paper-based test is conducted three times a year, in October, November, and February, whereas the computer-based test is conducted multiple times based on the availability of a test center.

The paper-based test can be taken as often as it is conducted but the computer-based test can only be taken once after 21 days of the exam. GREs are conducted in more than 160 countries, and there are nearly 1000 centers available globally for the conduction of these tests.

The test consists of three sections- verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. The syllabus for these sections ranges from specific algebra, geometry, arithmetic, physics, chemistry, psychology, and vocabulary. The grade range for analytical writing is 0.0 to 6.0 (in 0.5-point increments), verbal reasoning has 130 to 170 (in 1-point increments), and quantitative reasoning with 130 to 170 (in 1-point increments). The duration of the exam is 3 hours and 45 minutes, consisting of a 1-minute break after each section and a 10-minute break after the 3rd section. The medium of language is English and students are assumed to be fluent in it.

The marks secured are considered only up to 5 years. The grade is not considered valid after that. The use of score of GRE changes not only from university to university but also from department to department and course to course. The fees structure of this exam varies depending upon students’ financial conditions and other circumstances. In general, the cost is US$205 but ETS reduces the amount under exceptional situations, it also provides financial aid to students who prove their financial hardship.

GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test)

The Graduate Management Admission Test is a test that should be qualified for taking admission to a business school. It is used for assessing the students based on their knowledge acquired till now. GMAT is an International test accepted in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and several other countries by more than 6,000 business and management programs worldwide, at approximately 1,700 universities and organizations.

It is not only used for MBA admission but also widely used by other graduate business administration programs like Master of accountancy, Master of Finance, Master of Science in business/management, etc. Established in 1953, this test is owned and administered by GMAC which is based in Reston, Virginia. It also has its offices based in Hongkong and Gurgaon, India. The council has 212 member schools from around 22 countries.

GMAT is a computer adaptive test, which means that you can’t change your answer once you have successfully attempted a question. After every question, the software will assess you and adapt itself according to your answers, which also means with each question you answer, your test may get difficult but only verbal and qualitative reasoning are computer-adaptive, therefore your score depends on your ability to solve difficult questions correctly and not on the number of questions that you have attempted are correct.

This system is adapted as it helps universities to figure out which candidate is eligible for studying and has the potential to achieve success. The second reason for the adaptation of this method is that many students have the same educational qualification and this makes it difficult for the administration to choose between them. That’s why this method makes it easy to compare between two candidates.

This test takes a minimum of 3 hours and 30 minutes and consists of four elements in their syllabus. These four sections are Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Verbal Reasoning. The subjects which are included in this test are Mathematics and English. The basic essential skills for getting successful in this exam include critical thinking, grammar, basic numerical and writing skills, etc. You can take this test at any time you wish as far as you complete the criteria for appearing for it. This allows the student to prepare well before appearing as they are not bound to give the exam at a particular time. But the students are not permitted to take the test more than once in 31 days, even if the scores are invalidated due to any reason.

There are various ways of preparing for the GMAT. For example, you may opt for live or online lectures or may do self-study using the books that are particularly designed for this exam or you may also go for private tuition. The fee for this test is US$250 and the scores obtained in this test are valid for 5 years. Mostly, the schools do not publish the minimum score which is required to get admitted for the course but they do publish the average score of their last intake. The average score required for admission in good universities, in general, is between 600 and 700 whereas the highest possible score is 800 considering the score of the past few years.

A comprehensive comparison

Now let’s compare both these exams considering some extra additional points which are not discussed in the above paragraphs individually.

  1. From the above-mentioned information, we can conclude that the major difference between these two exams is that GRE is used for various graduate programs including business school, whereas GMAT is specifically used for taking admission in business schools
  1. If you are sure about taking admission in business school, then you can surely go for GRE but if you are a bit confused about the course which you wish to study then you can opt for GMAT.
  1. Both the exams are valued but GRE is accepted by fewer institutions if compared with the GMAT. Nearly 2300 business schools with 7000 programs consider GMAT scores while giving admission.
  1. Considering the difficulty level, we can say that both the exams are pretty difficult because a small number of students are only able to qualify for these tests. GRE focuses mainly on vocabulary while GMAT focuses on comprehension and logical reasoning so the toughness of the exam may vary from person to person according to his/her knowledge in the given areas. In mathematics, the toughness of the GMAT is a little bit more than that of the GRE. The syllabus won’t go beyond 10th grade for both the papers but the availability of a lot of twisted questions makes GMAT harder than GRE. Moreover, the difficulty in vocabulary and comprehension may also be greater for a particular if it is not his/her first language.
  1. GMAT consists of an analytical writing section with one essay, and the time provided for attempting this section is 30 minutes. Similarly, GRE also has an analytical section with 2 essays, and the time provided is 30 minutes.
    The second section of GMAT is integrated reasoning with 30 minutes. And GRE consists of a verbal reasoning section and the time provided is 30 minutes. The third section of GMAT is quantitative reasoning with a period of 62 minutes whereas in GRE quantitative reasoning has a time of 35 minutes. The verbal section of the GMAT has a time limit of 35 minutes on the other hand GRE has 30-35 minutes of the experimental section that can be either maths or verbal. GRE concentrates more on vocabulary which means it may seem easy to the natives and non-native English speakers, and this test has less focus on maths so if you are not so good at maths you may consider GRE, as this exam will be easy for you as compared to GMAT.
  1. The total score range of the GMAT is between 200 and 800. Considering the data from 2013 to 2015, nearly 750,000 students took this test and among them, the mean score was 552 whereas if you scored 700 you would have put in the 89th percentile. In GRE the score is between 130 to 170 in 1 point increment for quantitative and verbal reasoning sections. And in analytical writing, the score is generally from 0 to 6.

Also, there are many regions across the world where the students are not having the option of giving computer-based tests ( majorly in the case of GRE). And in such situations, they are supposed to give the paper-based test but the paper-based test does not include the research or experimental section. In such cases where you give a paper-based GRE test, you will see that there are five additional questions in each of the verbal and qualitative sections, and in such cases, you receive extra five minutes for the verbal section but in the quantitative section, you won’t receive any extra time.

The GMAT test is more practical rather than theory-based and this makes it a better test for any student to prepare for as it strengthens the base of one’s academic knowledge and its scores are directly linked with taking admission for MBA only. Due to this reason, many business schools prefer the GMAT, because this shows that you are already prepared and focused on pursuing MBA rather than students with GRE scores who can change their course. So if you are focused on getting admitted to a good business school for MBA, the GMAT exam presents you with a wider range of choices in terms of colleges and universities.

Although it is claimed that both these exams are equally accepted by different schools or universities, students need to know that many schools are inclined towards considering the GMAT score rather than GRE as mentioned earlier so basically you have to decide what suits you best according to your academic capability and the exam which is accepted by the University in which you wish to take admission.

But if we are to conclude something from this given information, we can surely say that preparing and appearing for the GMAT exam will always be a lot more beneficial than preparing for GRE. It is not so just because it trains and prepares your mind for the vast syllabus which you will be studying during your course but also because it increases the chances of getting admitted to some good prestigious business school abroad, especially in MBA courses.

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