GMAT vs GRE: What's the difference?

For the next step in your academic journey, find out the differences between these two exams and which one is best for you.

Like many students, you might feel like undergraduate school just isn’t the end of the road for you. Moreover, graduate school opens up a world of opportunities for students and their futures. Even so, there are things required for students to get to where they want to be.

For example, standardized tests are an important part of the graduate school admissions process. These tests evaluate and assess your raw skills to see if you have what it takes for a graduate program. Additionally, the two most popular and widely accepted tests in North America are the GMAT and GRE.

Below, we break down GMAT vs GRE, how they are different, and what test best suits your needs.

What is GRE?

Also known as the Graduate Record Examination, the GRE is the most widely accepted standardized test for graduate school. Also, the exam tests students’ verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing. The test takes about 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete.

Overall, GRE examines several students’ abilities. For example, the GRE asks students to analyze data and draw reasonable conclusions, use mathematical models to solve problems and construct concise, coherent arguments. All three of these sections combine to form a set of scores.

Students who take the exam are scored on a 130-170 scale for the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections. Additionally, the scores are curved based on the difficulty of the questions.

Finally, the analytical writing section is scored on a 0-6 scale. The higher the score, the better off you will be in your application process. The Educational Testing Service (ETS) offers a range of exam dates. Moreover, students’ can find a local testing site or opt to take the online version of the exam.

You can learn more about the GRE in our What is GRE guide.

What is GMAT?

While GRE is more general, the GMAT is designed to analyze a students’ aptitude for graduate business school. Additionally, the GMAT contains mostly multiple-choice questions with four exam sections in total. Believe it or not, the skills tested on the GMAT are similar to those on GRE.

The GMAT broadly assesses a students’ command of arithmetic, algebra, data analysis and grammar. Furthermore, the GMAT analyzes students’ capabilities to evaluate written material, think critically and solve problems. In essence, the GMAT tests many of the skills students are asked to display on GRE.

However, there are four sections on the GMAT compared to the GRE’s three. Integrated reasoning, verbal, quantitative and analytical writing make up the exam. Like GRE, the writing section is scored on a 0-6 scale. But, the integrated reasoning section is score separately on a 1-8 scale.

Lastly, the quantitative and verbal sections have a scaled score between 0 and 60. Both of these sections combine on a 200-800 scale which is adjusted based on difficulty. Overall, the GMAT takes an average of three hours and seven minutes to complete, and costs slightly more than GRE’s $250 fee.

You can learn more about the GMAT in our What is GMAT guide.

Is GMAT or GRE easier?

Now, for the real part of our GMAT vs GRE comparison: which is easier? If you are wondering which test is right for you, the GMAT vs GRE, then this is your section. Ultimately, both exams are somewhat difficult and require the student to prepare properly.

On the GMAT, the quantitative section tends to be more difficult than that of the GRE. This is due to the GMAT’s focus on students preparing for graduate school in business. However, the GMAT could benefit students who enjoy logic problems, which is another aspect to consider in the GMAT vs GRE debate.

Conversely, the GRE varies in difficulty in the verbal sections. Compared to the GMAT, the GRE tends to use slightly more complicated language. As the GRE is broader in scope, the test has difficult vocabulary compared to similar sections on the GMAT.

Generally, the GRE is considered to be slightly easier than the GMAT. This also because of the format of the test. The GRE allows test-takers to skip questions and move at their own pace. On the flip side, the GMAT allows students to take the test in whichever order they prefer.

So is GMAT or GRE the best for you? If logic problems and business school are more of your thing, then the GMAT fits your skills. However, if you consider yourself a wordsmith and want to apply your score to a broad range of programs, the GRE is best for you.

GMAT vs GRE comparison of scores

Luckily, most schools, whether business-oriented or not, accept both GMAT and GRE scores. However, the question becomes which test or score better gives you an advantage in your pursuit for higher education.

In such a case, converting your scores may help you gauge where you stand. To find out what your scores mean for you, visit this uber-helpful GRE to GMAT conversion tool.