One of the most popular and enduring myths about MBA admissions is that taking the GMAT would automatically help you stand out in competitive applicant pools - and that by extension, the GMAT is preferred to the GRE. Put bluntly, this is not true for all graduate schools, with mostly being neutral about GMAT vs GRE.
The war between the GMAT and GRE started ever since the GRE expanded into the realm of MBA admissions. A growing number of MBA programs - over 1,200 - now accept both GMAT and GRE scores or either, for business school admissions. However, while the GRE is eligible for admission to other graduate schools, the GMAT has been designed to cater only to MBA applicants.
To me, which might be contrary to popular belief, taking the GMAT does not really feel like putting on a badge. Before you start thinking that I forgot to pay my brain bill, let me tell you why GRE may be a better option than the GMAT.
Reasons Why GRE May Be Better Than GMAT
Here’s all about why the GRE may be better than GMAT for you:
The Only Admission Test Common for All Graduate Programs Including MBA
The GRE is the only widely-accepted test for your readiness for graduate school and the only exam that can get you into business, law and any other graduate school, opening way more doors for you than the GMAT. Taking the GRE ensures that you end up with a lot more academic options besides just a business degree or an MBA. I have come across a good number of students unsure about which program to take up, who chose to attempt the GMAT and eventually wished to have the flexibility that the GRE naturally offers.
While the GMAT is specifically designed to assess your business school performance, with a GRE score, you can highlight your strengths outside of the common business skill set which may further lead you to a unique academic and career path. Further, the GRE works as an addition to your academic abilities in case your other scores like the GPA are not as good as you might have wanted them to be.
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Gives an Edge if You are Struggling With Math
Given that most of my friends are scared of math or quant, I can bet that most of you can also relate. In case you do, you must already be dreading preparing for the math side of the GMAT. Well, unlike the GMAT which often suits those with strong quantitative and analytical skills, the GRE’s math section tends to be pretty straightforward and comparatively easy.
GRE focuses more on vocabulary and less on grammar and logical arguments while GMAT stresses on grammar and reasoning. One big advantage of taking the GRE is that it does not have Integrated Reasoning which measures how well you assess data and use it to solve difficult problems. This way, you can escape from GMAT’s 12 questions across question types on the Integrated Reasoning section.
Grad Schools Say They Do Not Prefer One to the Other
Yes, a lot of MBA applicants believe that GMAT is the only path to top B-Schools. But, let me show you otherwise. Here is what leading business schools have to say about their preference between GMAT and GRE. (Quotes mentioned below have been sourced from the official websites of respectives universities):
Stanford says they “have no preference between GMAT and GRE exams” and the same goes for Harvard Business School (HBS), MIT Sloan, University of Pennsylvania (Wharton), HEC Paris, Chicago Booth, Oxford Said, NYU Stern to name a few. UCLA (Anderson) says, “We accept both tests. If you have not taken either test then we recommend the GRE.”
Given that top universities offering MBA do not have any preference between the two, it is only likely that more business schools are to follow suit.
Moreover, ETS’ conversion tool to translate GRE scores into GMAT scores allows universities to compare scores from applicants using the same scale, further leaving no room for them to prefer GMAT to GRE.
Not Every Business Program Requires the GMAT
Melbourne Business School says, “If you are required to undertake a test for entry to the Master of Applied Econometrics, Master of Economics and Master of Commerce (Actuarial Science) then you are required to sit the GRE. For the Master of Finance you may choose between sitting the GMAT or the GRE.”
Programs such as Master of Marketing, believe it or not, actually favour the GRE over the GMAT. This is because GRE is more qualitative and verbal-based, which makes more sense for students interested in the marketing sector. Not to mention that a quant score, which the GMAT focuses more on, does not measure creativity of an applicant.
Same goes for those applying for joint degrees such as MBA/MPP and MBA/MPA-ID, which usually requires students to take the GRE.
Comparatively Less Test Anxiety
Yes, that’s true! Apart from differences between the GMAT and GRE in terms of content, both have different adaptive testing algorithms. People like me who like to review all of my answers at the end of a section, GRE serves the best. It allows you to go back to the answered questions, take a look at them and even change the answer, provided you still have time left to complete that section.
On the other hand, the GMAT will not allow you to skip, return to or change your answers as each section is separately timed.
Research done by ETS further proves that most GRE candidates increased their scores after changing answers.
A Differentiator for an MBA Candidacy
Experts say that the GRE has become more popular as universities see it is a valuable differentiator and strategic decision for an MBA candidacy. MBA programs have been open to accepting GRE scores to draw a more diverse set of applicants and bolster positioning for applicants that fall in the non-traditional category of applicants.
Moreover, it creates a more competitive enrollment rate, increases the volume of applications, encouraging more universities to admit students submitting GRE scores for MBA.
But How Do I Really Decide...
Well, if you were to ask me, I would definitely take the GRE instead of the GMAT. However, you might not feel so and that’s only normal. I am sure a lot of you might not be sure. In that case, you may ask yourself these questions and then choose:
Do you get anxious on tests?
Does the school have a preference or accepts only one of them?
Are you not confident that you would score well in GMAT Quantitative Reasoning?
Is your vocabulary strong?
What are post-MBA goals (in case you are sure about pursuing an MBA)? - Many companies might need GMAT scores while recruiting.
If your university has no preference and you answered yes to most of the questions, you may want to take the GRE.
Still Confused Between GRE and GMAT?
Disclaimer: The opinions and views expressed in this article belong solely to the author. Students are recommended to make a choice between GRE and GMAT based on their own research and analysis.