GRE Vs. GMAT for MBA Admissions

There are two entrance tests options for MBA applicants, the GRE and the GMAT. Figuring out which test is the right one for you will depend on your unique affinities, test-taking style and career goals. Schools offering Business degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

GRE vs GMAT for MBA Admission

The GMAT and the GRE are the two most widely-accepted test scores for admission to MBA programs.

Skills Tested Analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning Analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and integrated reasoning
Most difficult Section Analytical writing Quantitative reasoning
Delivery method Computer (or paper where computers are not available) Computer
Testing Time 3.75 hours 3.5 hours
Cost $205 $250
Accepted for MBA application Sometimes Always
How long are scores valid? 5 years 5 years


The GMAT (graduate management admissions test) is the standard test for students planning to apply for MBA programs.

The test includes four sections:

  • The quantitative reasoning section wherein you have 62 minutes to solve 31 multiple-choice questions that will test your ability to reason mathematically.
  • The verbal reasoning section wherein you have 65 minutes to answer 36 multiple-choice questions that measure your reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction skills.
  • The integrated reasoning section wherein you have 30 minutes to answer 12 questions that test your ability to integrate data in solving complex problems.
  • The analytical writing assessment wherein you have 30 minutes to write a short essay analyzing a written argument.

The GMAT is a computerized test. It uses computer adaptive testing technology to increase the difficulty of the questions you are given based on your previous answers. Once you have answered a question you are not allowed to return or change your answer. Your verbal and quantitative scores combine for a total score between 200-800. The integrated reasoning and analytical writing assessments are scored separately.


In recent years universities have begun to accept the GRE in lieu of a GMAT for MBA admission. While the GMAT is a specific test for students seeking admission into business programs, the GRE (graduate record examinations) can be applied to a wider variety of post-graduate program applications.

The test is broken down into three sections:

  • The verbal reasoning section includes two 30 minute sections wherein you answer 20 questions that test your ability to analyze, evaluate and synthesize written information.
  • The quantitative reasoning section includes two 35 minutes sections wherein you answer 20 questions that test your ability to use basic arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis to solve problems.
  • The analytical writing section wherein you have two 30-minute writing tasks. First, you write an analysis of an issue and then an analysis of an argument.

The GRE is a computerized test. Test-takers have access to an onscreen calculator while taking the quantitative reasoning section. Unlike the GMAT you have the ability to skip questions and go back and change your answers. Students receive a score between 130-170 for the verbal and quantitative sections and a score between 0-6 for the analytical writing section.

Which one should you take?

According to a survey done by Kaplan in 2016, applicants with GMAT and GRE test scores are treated equally in the MBA admissions process. So which test should you focus on? That depends on one a few factors:

Decide your career goals

The GRE is widely accepted by a variety of grad school programs while GMAT tests are specific to MBA applicants. Taking the GMAT tells admissions counselors that you are committed to your path in the business field. That is one of the reasons that some admissions officers prefer to see GMAT to GRE scores on applications. However, if you are not sure about your path, taking the GRE is a great way to keep your options open.

Research the requirements for your dream MBA program

Each year more MBA programs accept GRE scores, but some programs will still ask for a GMAT. Do your research into the specific MBA programs you plan to apply to. Find out if there is a test they prefer their applicants take.

Take practice tests

While both tests similar skills, there are differences in the format and style of questions. In general, students find the quantitative (math) section more challenging on the GMAT while the verbal reasoning sections (writing and grammar) are more difficult on the GRE test. There are free online practice tests for both tests, so test them both out! Find out which test best matches your unique test-taking style.

The GMAT is more commonly accepted than the GRE for MBA admission. However, deciding which test is right for you will depend on your career goals, specific MBA program requirements, and test-taking style.

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