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GRE is Fast Becoming a GMAT Alternative for Business School Applicants

In a previous ICON+ article comparing the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) and Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), we mentioned that the GMAT is exclusive to Masters of Business Administration (MBA) courses, whereas the GRE is the standard admissions test for other graduate programs.


However, times have changed. Admissions trends show that business schools are now seeking a broader applicant pool and are looking beyond the traditional business background. Many more MBA programs worldwide now accept the GRE in lieu of the GMAT for admissions.


Part of the GRE’s appeal is its increased flexibility with regards to graduate school options; it is used in the admissions process for graduate programs in various disciplines such as Psychology, English and Math. The GRE thus seems like an ideal fit for candidates who are wavering between an MBA and another graduate degree like an M.S., dual-degree program or even a Ph.D.


Additionally, the GRE appeals more to applicants who aren’t math-savvy, as the math and reading comprehension questions in the GMAT are often reported as the more difficult of the two. The GRE also has a comparatively lower cost at USD$190 over the GMAT’s USD$250.


Nevertheless, there are still some key points in favor of the GMAT. For example, specific business schools retain a preference towards GMAT applicants and may even provide exclusive scholarship opportunities for students who achieve above a certain score. They may also believe that the GMAT is the better indicator of a student’s capability and preparedness for an MBA program, so it is important that you check the school’s website and admissions requirements to find out more.


Additionally, while the GRE is often perceived to be the easier test, taking it might actually work against you. There still exists a widespread perception that taking the GMAT is a sign of being serious about business school and committed to pursuing an MBA. Business schools might also find it difficult to compare GRE scores with that of the time-tested GMAT.


Finally, applicants who intend to pursue a career in investment banking or management strategy consulting should focus on taking the GMAT, as top firms in these fields specifically ask for a candidate’s GMAT scores during the hiring process. Aside from these highly selective fields, the choice of a GRE or GMAT should not have a great impact on your post-graduate school career plans.


Whether you personally prefer the GMAT or the GRE, we are seeing an increased recognition of the latter in business school admissions. However, it is important to note that test scores are just one aspect of a lengthy application process and there are other important factors that determine success, for example, reference letters, personal essays and interviews.

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