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To GRE or to GMAT?

For those of you embarking on your journey to graduate school, one of the biggest hurdles is the standardized testing requirement. But which test should you choose – the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) or the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)?


Firstly, different tests are required by different Masters programs. For a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and some Finance and Economics Masters, the GMAT is required, whilst the GRE is the standard admissions test for Masters programs in general. However, in truth, many universities will accept either GRE or GMAT for programs excluding MBAs.


So what exactly are the differences between the two tests?


To begin with, both exams have sections dedicated to verbal reasoning and critical reading, writing and quantitative reasoning. Even though the GMAT is used to assess a candidate’s chances of success in business school, there are no business or finance aspects on the GMAT exam. This is a common misconception in regard to the GMAT. The GRE does have one distinguishing characteristic: it includes a non-cognitive component, which was introduced in 2009.


Furthermore, the GRE vocabulary is often seen as more challenging, which is why many non-native English speakers struggle more with the GRE. However, the GMAT is in general said to be the harder exam. The reason is that the math and reading comprehension questions are more difficult on the GMAT than those on the GRE.


There is also a cost element. The GRE exam costs over 200 USD outside the US, while the GMAT is the more expensive exam at 285 USD globally.



In conclusion, there are only a minimal number of differences between the two exams. The most important factor to consider is the program to which you want to apply. If you are planning to apply to business school for an MBA or finance-related Master’s, the GMAT is the exam for you. If, however, you want to apply for non-business programs such as Education, Psychology, or Engineering the GRE is the exam to take.


My final piece of advice is to always check with the university and Masters program requirements before you sign yourself up for a GRE or GMAT exam.

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