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Choosing between the GMAT and the GRE for MBA admissions can feel like standing at a crossroads, with each path leading to its unique destination. In my journey through the maze of MBA admissions, I’ve guided these niches and emerged with insights and understanding. This article is your compass, designed to guide you through the differences, nuances, and preferences of business schools when it comes to the GMAT vs GRE for MBA.

gmat and gre for mba


What are the GMAT and GRE?

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) are standardized tests used as part of the admissions process for MBA programs. While both exams assess your critical thinking, analytical writing, quantitative, and verbal skills, they do so in different ways and emphases.

The GMAT for MBA, developed by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), is tailored specifically for business schools, aiming to measure the skills deemed essential for success in a fast-paced business environment. It evaluates a candidate’s ability to analyze data, conclude, think critically, and solve problems.

If you wonder, what are the MBA programs that accept GRE, read our previous article.

Conversely, the GRE is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and is used for admission to various graduate and business school programs. It offers a more generalized assessment of a candidate’s overall academic readiness for graduate-level work, with a strong focus on verbal and quantitative reasoning and analytical writing skills. This makes the GRE a versatile test that can open doors to MBA programs and master’s and doctoral programs across numerous disciplines.

Are GRE prep courses worth it? Read one of our previous materials to learn more.

What are the differences between the GMAT and GRE?

My experience has shown that understanding the comparison of GMAT and GRE for MBA is crucial for prospective MBA students. It influences their preparation strategies and impacts their choice of which test to take based on their strengths, the requirements of their target programs, and their career aspirations.

Both tests are a gateway to advanced education in business and other fields, highlighting the importance of critical thinking, analytical skills, and the ability to communicate effectively in a professional setting.

We discussed GMAT vs GRE points in one of our previous articles. Below is the comparative table for more information.

Feature GMAT GRE
Primary Focus Analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning strongly emphasize data sufficiency and problem-solving. Analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning with a balanced focus but include a distinct section on vocabulary.
Structure Consists of four sections: Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, and Verbal. Comprises three sections: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning.
Scoring Scores range from 200 to 800 in 10-point increments. Integrated Reasoning is scored separately on a scale of 1-8. Scores for the Verbal and Quantitative sections are reported separately, each ranging from 130 to 170, in 1-point increments. Analytical Writing is scored on a scale of 0 to 6, in half-point increments.
Test Duration Approximately 3.5 hours, 3 hours 7 minutes, including breaks. About 3 hours and 45 minutes, including breaks.

A Comparative Look at GMAT vs. GRE Structure & Scoring

When dissecting the GMAT and GRE differences for MBA, it becomes evident that each test has its distinct blueprint and scoring system. The GMAT is designed specifically with business school applicants in mind, emphasizing analytical, verbal, and quantitative skills that are crucial for success in business-related studies.

It consists of four sections: Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, and Verbal sections, each tailored to assess different competencies. The scoring for the GMAT ranges from 200 to 800, integrating performances across the Quantitative and Verbal sections, while the Analytical Writing Assessment and Integrated Reasoning sections receive separate scores.

On the other hand, the GRE offers a broader assessment framework, making it suitable for business school candidates and a wide range of graduate programs. It features three main sections: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. Unlike the GMAT, the GRE significantly emphasizes vocabulary and reading comprehension in its Verbal Reasoning section, making it distinctively different in its approach to assessing verbal skills. The GRE scores each section separately: Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning scores range from 130 to 170, while the Analytical Writing section is scored from 0 to 6.

This structural and scoring difference between GMAT and GRE for MBA underscores their tailored approaches to evaluating candidates. The GMAT’s focus on problem-solving, data analysis, and critical reasoning aligns closely with the skill sets required for business management and leadership. In contrast, the GRE’s comprehensive assessment style caters to a wider array of academic disciplines, reflecting its versatility. Find out the best study material for GRE in our previous post.

gmat vs gre review


Do business schools prefer the GMAT or GRE for MBA?

Historically, the GMAT was the gold standard for MBA admissions. However, a growing number of business schools now accept the GRE with equal consideration. This move symbolizes a broader acceptance, aiming to diversify applicant pools by welcoming candidates from a wider range of academic backgrounds. Nonetheless, some argue that the GMAT, tailored for business school applicants, might provide a slight edge for those exclusively targeting MBA programs. This trend reflects a changing landscape in business education, where versatility and a broad skill set are increasingly valued. Schools recognize that leadership and innovation come from diverse experiences and perspectives, and the acceptance of the GRE alongside the GMAT is a testament to this understanding.

Still not sure about the best GRE tutors? Read our previous article to learn more.

Moreover, the choice between these tests allows candidates to play to their strengths in quantitative reasoning, verbal skills, or analytical writing. Applicants need to research their target programs thoroughly, as some may express a preference for one test over the other, though such cases are becoming less common. Furthermore, the inclusion of the GRE by business schools has led to a more competitive admissions environment, where the focus shifts from test scores to the overall quality and diversity of the applicant pool. As the landscape of MBA admissions evolves, the equal acceptance of GMAT and GRE scores symbolizes a shift towards a more inclusive and multifaceted evaluation of potential business leaders.


The decision between taking the GMAT or GRE for MBA program boils down to personal strengths and preferences. My experiments have indicated that the GRE might play to your strengths, as long as you excel in verbal reasoning and possess a strong vocabulary. Conversely, if you’re adept at quantitative reasoning and data analysis, the GMAT could be your arena to shine. Regardless of your choice, success in either exam requires rigorous preparation, practice, and a strategic approach.


Do MBA programs prefer GMAT or GRE?

Most MBA programs now accept both GMAT and GRE scores, reflecting a broadened perspective on admissions criteria. Through my observations, it’s clear that admissions committees prioritize the underlying competencies and potential these scores signify over the specific test chosen. This trend underscores a holistic approach to evaluating candidates, focusing on diverse skills and experiences of modern business leadership.

Is it better to give the GRE or GMAT?

Choosing between the GRE and GMAT hinges on your strengths and academic objectives. The GRE is advantageous for its wide applicability, particularly if you’re eyeing dual degrees or diverse graduate programs beyond business. For those dedicated solely to an MBA journey, the GMAT may offer a more tailored assessment closely aligned with the analytical and quantitative skills business schools value.

Is 525 a good GMAT score?

A score of 525 falls below the average for competitive MBA programs. Striving for a score of 650 or higher enhances your admissions prospects.

Does Harvard Business School require GRE or GMAT?

Harvard Business School accepts both GRE and GMAT scores for admission into its MBA program. Your choice should align with your strengths and overall application strategy.


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