Tag Archives: GMAT vs. GRE
March 17, 2017
Now that most of the top business schools in the United States accept both the GMAT and GRE exam for admission, how do you decide which test you should take? Many elite schools hope to diversify their applicant …
Now that most of the top business schools in the United States accept both the GMAT and GRE exam for admission, how do you decide which test you should take? Many elite schools hope to diversify their applicant pool by accepting the GRE as an alternative in the admissions process. Another favorable aspect for business schools: it creates a more competitive enrollment rate; the number of available spots stays the same but the volume of applications goes up.
Prospective grad students of the arts and sciences have typically submitted GRE scores, so applicants deciding between business school and other graduate programs appreciate having one less test to study and pay for. Meanwhile the GMAT, long considered the gold standard for the specific academic skills needed in graduate business school, is more expensive and offered in fewer locations worldwide.
One essential difference between the tests is that the GRE requires you to do the arguing, whereas in the GMAT you analyze what has been argued. The style expected from GRE test readers is more abstract and draws from various sources and disciplines for examples or references, whereas it is more concrete and analytical for the GMAT. This supports the suitability of the GRE for the more academically-minded student.
A recent US News and World Report article weighs in with the following five factors MBA applicants should consider when choosing between the GMAT and GRE:
- Does the school have a strong preference for the GMAT?
- Are your math skills especially strong? The GMAT is generally more difficult in the quant section
- Are you a wordsmith at heart? The GRE is more challenging in verbal, particularly for non-native English speakers.
- Consider your post-MBA career goals. Some firms require applicants to submit GMAT scores.
- Test anxiety is generally lower with the GRE, which allows you to save and return to questions to check your work.
In general, top business schools will be looking for fairly high percentile scores on the GRE, especially on the quantitative section. I had one client who, while phenomenal in many ways, could not achieve a GMAT score above 600. Her quantitative percentile came in around 40—half of the target score.
Although I’ve seen applicants admitted with very low GMAT scores in the past, we decided to take advantage of this new option and submit her application to Harvard Business School with the GRE instead. Despite a lower overall performance, her GRE results boasted a much higher quant score, and in the end, she was admitted to HBS.
Ultimately though, the GMAT remains the “tried and true” entrance exam for business schools—the admissions team will have no questions about why you chose it. If you are a great test-taker and it’s all the same to you, I would stick with the GMAT.
You may also be interested in:
July 17, 2015
A great many MBA programs now accept the GRE as an alternative to the GMAT as an entrance requirement, but applicants may still wonder whether business schools truly view both equally. If you find yourself …
A great many MBA programs now accept the GRE as an alternative to the GMAT as an entrance requirement, but applicants may still wonder whether business schools truly view both equally. If you find yourself on the fence about which exam to take, the recent post, Which Test is Best?, on the Texas MBA Insider blog at UT McCombs School of Business should be required reading.
Kimberly Jones, author of the article, makes a strong case for making the choice between the GMAT and GRE based on your career and degree goals, as well as your more personal perception of both tests’ reputations.
For instance, consulting and investment banking companies use the GMAT score as a baseline qualifier for the recruiting process, Jones explains.
“If Consulting or I-Banking are in your sights, this means that the GMAT is the best choice because you could take it once and use your score for both your Admissions application as well as your career recruitment profile.”
However, there are many cases where applicants, particularly those targeting a dual degree, coming from a humanities background, or applying to both business school and other graduate programs, will benefit from going with the GRE instead.
For MBA candidates with career aspirations outside of banking and consulting, the choice may boil down to perception. As Jones points out, companies that hire MBAs are very familiar with the score scale of the GMAT but may need clarification regarding how GRE scores compare.
“MBA Admissions Officers are also new to the GRE setting,” Jones says. “However, many of us have worked with the test and have recruited amazing candidates to our programs since we started accepting it a few years ago and are more comfortable assessing verbal and quantitative skill sets based on those scores.”
As MBA admissions consultants, we generally advise clients to go for the GMAT exam. After all, the GMAT has long been considered the gold standard for the specific academic skills needed in graduate business school, and therefore the admissions committees’ level of familiarity with it compared to the GRE is still nowhere near equal.
If you are a great test-taker and it’s all the same to you, I would stick with GMAT for now. It’s more of a known entity and “tried and true” for the schools—no questions asked about why you chose it.
You may also be interested in:
October 22, 2014
Acceptance of the GRE as an admissions alternative to the GMAT among U.S. business schools has reached critical mass, according to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2014 survey of business school admissions officers. According to the survey, …
Acceptance of the GRE as an admissions alternative to the GMAT among U.S. business schools has reached critical mass, according to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2014 survey of business school admissions officers.
According to the survey, 85% of MBA programs now give students the option to submit a score from the GRE instead of a GMAT score. This percentage has steadily increased year-over-year since Kaplan first began tracking the issue in 2009, when only 24% of business schools said they accepted the GRE.
The caveat in wider GRE acceptance: Still only a trickle of MBA applicants are submitting a GRE score instead of a GMAT score. Over half of the admissions officers surveyed said that just one in ten or fewer applicants took this admissions path last application cycle, representing a slight uptick from Kaplan’s past surveys.
But is this apprehension from applicants warranted?
Additional Kaplan data shows that 78% of MBA programs say scores from both tests are viewed equally, but 18% of MBA programs say applicants who submit a GMAT score have an advantage over applicants who submit a GRE score.
“The trendline for business schools that accept the GRE as an admissions alternative to the GMAT has been unmistakable over the past five years. What was once seen as an almost exotic admissions policy by business schools has become nearly ubiquitous,” says Brian Carlidge, executive director of pre-business and pre-graduate programs, Kaplan Test Prep.
“Our advice to prospective MBAs is if all the business schools they plan to apply to accept the GRE in addition to the GMAT, then contact those schools and find out if they have a preference for one exam over the other. We also advise students to take the GMAT if some of the schools to which they intend on applying do not accept the GRE. While the GRE is widely accepted, the only exam that is universally accepted is the GMAT.”
October 9, 2014
Most MBA admissions teams stress that the application process is holistic, meaning they take into account all elements of the candidate’s application and don’t assign overwhelming weight to any one aspect. In a recent update …
Most MBA admissions teams stress that the application process is holistic, meaning they take into account all elements of the candidate’s application and don’t assign overwhelming weight to any one aspect.
In a recent update to UCLA Anderson School of Management‘s MBA Insider’s Blog, Associate Director of MBA Admissions Jessica Chung provides some answers for applicants who have expressed concern over how UCLA Anderson weighs test scores and undergraduate academic performance.
Like several elite business schools, Anderson now accepts either the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or the GMAT for admission. Chung is more candid than most in MBA admissions when she advises, “If you have not taken either test and are unsure which one to study for, I would lean towards the GMAT since it was designed specifically for business school admissions and we have more familiarity with it.”
Ultimately applicants should choose whichever exam they feel comfortable with that would best highlight their abilities, but from Chung’s comment we come away feeling that the GMAT is still the “gold standard” in MBA admissions simply because it’s a more more known entity.
A diverse class leads to a robust and lively educational experience, which is why UCLA Anderson encourages applicants from all majors to apply. For that reason, applicants with little quantitative experience in undergrad should strive to do exceptionally well on the GMAT or GRE. On the flip side, candidates with a strong quantitative track record in an academic or employment setting might alleviate any concerns admissions might have over a less-than-stellar test score.
Interestingly, Chung explains that the admissions team looks beyond the grades or GPA of your undergraduate transcript and considers factors such as the rigor of your school and course load trends over time.
All of the puzzle pieces—test scores, GPA, essay, recommendation letter, interview, work experience—are considered when it comes to making admissions decisions, and, says Chung, “It’s this holistic approach that leads us to an incredible class each year!”
* * *
The Round 1 deadline is coming up on October 22, 2014. Please check out our Fall 2015 UCLA Anderson MBA essay tips for advice on how to approach this year’s streamlined essay prompt.
January 21, 2014
Guest post by our friends at Magoosh
President Theodore Roosevelt, a scholar and adventurer, said, “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” At least some of the folks pursuing an MBA have something of this vision: a quest to do deeply satisfying hard work in the world. In one way or another, the MBA is a “prize” for most of the people pursuing it.
For some people at the initial stages, the GMAT stands as a kind of obstacle in the path to this prize. Perhaps some students even think: “If I could only dispense with this hindrance, then I could move on to the good stuff!” The GMAT, though, is not an arbitrary barrier. Instead, the challenges posed by the GMAT are reflections of some of the challenges you will face in the business world.
How hard the GMAT is depends in part on your perspective. On the GMAT, you have to do math in a relatively tight time frame, if you make a mistake under pressure, you will get the question wrong. In the business world, there may be moments when you may have to do calculations about budgetary issues, perhaps even under pressure, if you make a mistake there, it could cost the company big money.
On the GMAT, you have to sift through tricky arguments, looking for the words and phrases that make a big difference in the logic. As an executive, on multiple occasions, you will be presented with potential sales, partnerships, deals, or other opportunities: some will truly be beneficial in a win-win way, but others will be by ruthless people trying to rob you blind, and you will have to discern what is best for your company and its long-term health.
In each of these examples, the ultimate downside for the first is the possibility of bombing this test that, after all, you can take again, whereas the direst negative outcomes in the latter cases can involve tremendous personal, legal, and financial liabilities. The challenges of the GMAT are small potatoes compared to the potential challenges of the world to which the GMAT gains you access.
Students invest a great deal of importance in GMAT score percentiles, perhaps in part because all grades and assessments carry such existential import for folks. Think about this chain of connection: elite GMAT scores often lead to one of the best B-schools, which often leads to landing a coveted management position – that is, a position that entails a tremendous amount of both responsibility and risk.
By all means, reach for the most you can achieve, but understand that whatever is challenging about the GMAT typically leads to more significant challenges down the road.
Some folks coming from more academic pursuits have already taken a GRE and understandably might be interested in GRE to GMAT score conversion. I would caution, though, those students who seek out the GRE because they want something less challenging than the GMAT.
Both tests are hard. If someone has a particularly large vocabulary, it may be that the GRE would be a slightly more advantageous test for that person, but for most folks, the GMAT is the better test to take for business school, simply because it mirrors more closely what is challenging, what is hard, about business world.
In the movie A League of Their Own, player Dottie Hinson tells her manager that she doesn’t like baseball anymore because it became too hard. Her manager, Jimmy Dugan, tells her, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.” If that’s your attitude, toward both the GMAT and the business world, then, like Teddy, you can embrace the challenges with relish.
December 13, 2012
Even though approximately 69 percent of business schools now give applicants the option of submitting GRE (Graduate Record Exam) scores rather than the GMAT, a new survey announced today reveals b-school hopefuls still aren’t jumping …
Even though approximately 69 percent of business schools now give applicants the option of submitting GRE (Graduate Record Exam) scores rather than the GMAT, a new survey announced today reveals b-school hopefuls still aren’t jumping on this alternative option.
In Kaplan Test Prep’s 2012 survey of business school admissions officers, who were polled by phone between August and September, roughly half of the schools surveyed (46 percent) say fewer than 1 in 10 applicants submitted a GRE score this past admissions cycle.
Data supports applicants’ wariness ”“ while the majority of business schools (69 percent) say scores from both tests are viewed equally, 29 percent say that applicants who submit a GMAT score have an advantage over applicants who submit a GRE score.
In the business school admissions test arms race, increasing acceptance of the GRE may have hit a plateau. Of the 31 percent of business schools that remain GMAT-only, only 17 percent say they are likely to begin accepting the GRE for the next admissions cycle.
Integrated Reasoning, the new GMAT section added in June 2012, may be a possible roadblock for its competitor: 24 percent of GMAT-only schools say the change, designed to make the GMAT more reflective of the MBA experience, makes it less likely they’ll begin accepting the GRE.
“As long as business schools signal the slightest advantage in taking the GMAT, it’s hard to see more applicants going the GRE route,” says Andrew Mitchell, director of pre-business programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “Our advice to students: take the GMAT if you plan to apply only to business school, but if you’re unsure whether your path will take you to graduate school or business school, consider taking the GRE.”