Congratulations, you are considering pursuing an MBA management degree abroad, now the next step is to consider the eligibility requirements. Apart from a graduation degree, you will need to score well in a standardised admission test to be able to get a seat in one of the top business institutions of the world.
The most popular admission tests for pursuing MBA courses abroad are the GRE and the GMAT.
If you are confused about which test to attempt, don’t worry, keep reading and let us help clear your confusion!
What Is GRE?
The GRE or Graduate Record Examination is conducted by Educational Testing Service (ETS) as an assessment programme for post-graduate course admissions. The GRE is considered to be one of the world’s largest assessment programmes for post-graduate admissions, with the scores being accepted for thousands of courses across the world.
Currently, over 1,200 business schools across the world accept GRE schools for admission, including top institutes such as Harvard and Columbia. The increasing acceptability of GRE scores for MBA admissions is making it a popular competitor to the traditional GMAT admission test.
What is GMAT?
The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) has been the traditional assessment test used by business schools for admissions to MBA degrees courses. The test is conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), an association of leading graduate business schools.
The GMAT was designed to test relevant skills specifically for business and management studies, such as analytical writing ability, critical reasoning skills and logic. The GMAT was first administrated in 1954 and is accepted for admission to more than 7,000 management courses across over 2,100 institutes.
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GMAT Vs. GRE – What are the Differences?
GRE and GMAT have the same goal of qualifying you for an MBA degree, however, there are various differences between the two exams in terms of their format, syllabus and more.
Both GMAT and GRE can be attempted through a computer, but the GMAT is a computer-adaptive test while the GRE is a section-adaptive test. The difference is a significant one, as, in the GMAT, each question will be based on how you answered the previous one, and so you cannot go back to any question. If you answer correctly, the difficulty will increase and if your answer is incorrect the next question will be easier.
In the GRE, the questions will remain constant within a particular section, but depending on your performance on the first sets of both verbal and quantitative sections, your second sets will be adjusted in difficulty (easy, medium or hard). The higher difficulty of the sections you attempt will bring you a higher score.
The GRE exam tests analytical writing, verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning, and is to be completed in 4 hours. Here is a detailed look at the section-wise breakup:
- Analytical Writing: 2 tasks to be completed in 30 minutes each- ‘analyze an issue’ and ‘analyze an argument’.
- Verbal Reasoning: 2 sections to be completed in 30 minutes each, with 20 questions per section.
- Quantitative Reasoning: 2 sections to be completed in 35 minutes each, with 20 questions per section.
There is also an additional unscored section, which ETS includes for research purposes. Which section you get – Verbal or Quantitative – is chosen at random.
The GMAT also tests analytical writing, verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning, but has an additional section called integrated reasoning skills as well, which tests your ability to integrate data to solve complex problems. The entire exam lasts for 3 hours and 30 minutes. Here is the detailed breakup:
- Analytical Writing: 1 question to be completed in 30 minutes on analyzing an argument.
- Verbal Reasoning: 36 questions to be answered in 65 minutes.
- Quantitative Reasoning: 31 questions to be answered in 62 minutes.
- Integrated Reasoning: 12 questions to be answered in 30 minutes.
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While both the GRE and GMAT have verbal and quantitative sections, the specific skills tested under each vary.
The GRE verbal reasoning section has questions on reading comprehension, sentence equivalence and text completion.
Here’s a sample question:
The quantitative reasoning section tests your ability for understanding, interpreting and analyzing quantitative information, solving problems using mathematical models and applying basic concepts of arithmetic, algebra and geometry.
The GMAT verbal reasoning section tests reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction.
The quantitative reasoning section of the GMAT tests your ability to reason mathematically, interpret graphs and solve quantitative problems.
In the GRE, the total score ranges between 260-340, which includes scores on the 2 verbal and quantitative sections. The analytical writing section is not included in the total.
Here are the score ranges for individual sections:
- Analytical Writing – 0 to 6
- Verbal Reasoning – 130 to 170 marks
- Quantitative Reasoning – 130 to 170 marks
A score of 150 in verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning is considered to be average, while 4.5 is average in analytical writing.
In the GMAT, the total score ranges between 200 and 800, with a majority of applicants scoring between 400 and 600.
- Analytical Writing – 0 to 6
- Integrated Reasoning – Scores between 1-8
- Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning – Scores between 6-51
The subjects covered in GRE and GMAT are similar, but the difficulty levels have been noted to be different in each. The GRE has an overall more difficult verbal section and a higher focus on vocabulary, when compared with the GMAT while the GMAT focuses more on grammar, reasoning and logic, making it easier for those with average language skills.
The quantitative section in GRE is comparatively easier than that of GMAT, as the GRE focuses on number manipulation and quick number sense. The GMAT quantitative section is considered more difficult and will require using a systematic approach to answer word problems.
Acceptance for Admission
Currently, GMAT is accepted by more business schools than GRE is, even though more institutes are now accepting GRE scores and many accept both. Some institutes also convert GRE scores to GMAT, a facility which is also offered by ETS, the organizers of GRE.
However, while GMAT scores can only be used for admission to management courses, a GRE score can be used for admission to management courses and other post-graduate courses. This can be helpful in case you change your mind about business school and want to pursue a post-graduate degree in a different discipline.
Costs & Validity
The fees for GRE and GMAT are calculated in US dollars and will be valid for Indian aspirants based on the current rupee exchange rate. The GRE fee is $205 and the GMAT fee is $250, and both are valid for 5 years.
You can opt for an examination date that suits you, as GRE and GMAT offer testing dates based on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Which Should You Choose – GMAT or GRE?
An important factor to keep in mind when deciding whether to attempt GRE or GMAT is which test is accepted by the business school you are interested in. Also consider if you are likely to change your choice from management course to another master’s course, in which case a GRE may be more suitable.
If you are firm on pursuing an MBA but have not finalised a business school, a GMAT may be preferable as it is accepted by more institutes.
Also, evaluate your strengths to understand which test you would perform better in. A great way to do so is to take diagnostic tests for the exams. Official practice/diagnostic tests are available for both GRE and GMAT:
The decision to attempt a GRE or a GMAT for your B-School admissions is a big one, involving both financial and time commitments. Whether you opt for GRE or a GMAT, make sure you are making a well-thought-out decision that is in line with your goals and capabilities. You can also try out career counselling to clear any further doubts you might have about which test is best for you.
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