GRE Vs GMAT Exam Format and Pattern

18 mins

When applying to graduate business programs, you may find that many institutions need test results as part of the admissions process. Therefore, you may be able to submit either the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or your Graduate Record Examination (GRE) result.

Most business schools will accept one of two graduate school entrance exams: the Graduate Record Examinations General Test (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). MBA applicants can pick which tests to take or, in many cases, can opt out of submitting test scores entirely.

Among the almost 100 MBA programs that answered a poll in October 2021, 34% claimed that they delayed standardized test requirements during the coronavirus epidemic and that they may also institute a lifelong test-optional admissions policy.

According to the survey, which was conducted jointly by the academic services company Kaplan and Manhattan Prep, a Kaplan-brand firm that tends to focus on preparing students for MBA-related standardized tests, 88 percent of B-schools that were considering applications without test scores saw high scores as a plus in the admissions process.

Remotely proctored digital versions of the GRE and GMAT were established during the epidemic, and all those online testing choices will be available when the outbreak ends.

"While Covid-19 has influenced standardized testing like as the GRE and GMAT," Nellie Gaynor, an MBA and graduate admissions counselor and academic adviser with the admissions consulting business IvyWise, stated in an email.

"To best place themselves in the admission process, prospective applicants should pick the exam that is ideally matched to their academic skills," says Gaynor, a former assistant director of admissions for programs at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.

She adds that taking a practice edition of each test might assist applicants in determining which exam to study for.

City Test Prep founder and CEO Bara Sapir warn that studying for at-home examinations might be difficult.

"Despite the physical pleasures of home," she noted in an email, "don't be mistaken: the regulations and setup could be a bit of a nail-biter." "You must cleanse your space of 'things,' both alive and lifeless, and any periodic noises are also not permitted."

The Stanford Graduate School of Business in California is one of the business institutions where the GRE and GMAT are given equal weight. "We have no bias for one test over another, we accept both GMAT and GRE", as per the school's website.

Dennis Yim, Kaplan's head of live online courses, points out that because most B-schools accept results from both exams, determining which test a school favor is less relevant than it used to be.

According to Stacey Koprince, content and curriculum head at Manhattan Prep, one of the initial motivations for choosing the GRE rather than the GMAT no longer applies.

"At this moment, the GMAT or GRE grade you need to be successful is very comparable across most schools," she stated in an email. "For example, Stanford has a mean GMAT performance of 738 and mean GRE values of 165 (verbal) and 165 (quant) - both outstanding and approximately equivalent results on any exam."

According to Koprince, full-time MBA programs are becoming more willing to accept findings from Executive Assessment. This standardized test measures the competencies of experienced corporate leaders and is a typical screening technique for executive MBA programs.

In addition, the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the GMAT, developed it, so it is a feasible alternative to the GMAT and GRE in some instances.

The Significant Difference Between GMAT and GRE

The most significant distinction between the GMAT and the GRE is that the GMAT is utilized by business schools as part of the admissions process, while the GRE is used for entrance to various graduate programs.

The GMAT and GRE differ in six main areas: fees, test duration, test design, test structure, scoring method, and the number of business schools that accept them. But which one should you take?

When deciding between the GMAT and the GRE, most people will tell you That Choose GMAT if you solely like to apply to business schools and GRE if you aren't sure what sort of graduate program you want to pursue.

It is, however, only half correct. Therefore, choosing between giving the GMAT and the GRE requires a bit more research. The key is to examine the various portions of both examinations and make a decision.

Test Focus

When comparing the GMAT with the GRE, one important contrast is that the GMAT is meant to test precisely the talents that matter in business school. Still, the GRE is a generic exam developed for admission to graduate programs ranging from an MFA in literature to a Ph.D. in astrophysics.

What Is GMAT?

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) administers the GMAT, a popular entrance exam for business schools and MBA programs. The test assesses reasoning and critical thinking abilities to indicate readiness for top graduate business schools.

In a rolling 12-month period, you may retake the GMAT at a testing site up to five times (no more than eight times total). In addition, you can retake the GMAT online assessment once.

The GMAT format

The GMAT format differs depending on whether you take the exam at a testing facility or online. The in-person version is divided into four portions, which you can arrange in one of three ways to best suit your talents and testing style.

Analytical Writing: In this test area, you must analyze and compose a review of a given instance in 30 minutes. It is scored in half-point increments from 0 to 6.

Integrated Reasoning: The Integrated Reasoning portion (which does not appear on the GRE) assesses your ability to use data to answer complicated issues. This component consists of one 30-minute segment with questions (mostly multiple choice).

You will be required to study and interpret data from various sources, like tables and graphs, and answer mathematical and verbal issues. The score is assigned from one to eight points in one-point increments.

This 62-minute portion has 31 multiple-choice questions. Quantitative difficulties and "Data Sufficiency" questions need you to decide if you have sufficient data to solve a particular question. Six to 51 points can be earned in one-point increments.

Verbal Reasoning: The Verbal Reasoning part lasts 65 minutes and includes 36 problems designed to assess your ability to read, comprehend, and analyze written content.

Reading comprehension, critical thinking, and sentence correction are the three sorts of questions you'll face. This is graded in one-point increments from six to 51.

During the Integrated Reasoning portion, you may utilize a basic internet calculator.

You may use a whiteboard (at-home testing) or a supplied laminated notepad with dry erase markers (testing center) to go through questions during the Quantitative Reasoning phase. You cannot skip and revisit questions or amend your answers during the GMAT.

When taking the GMAT online, you will receive your unofficial scores instantly as of May 2021.

GMAT Scoring

If you take the GMAT, your composite score will be the most important, ranging from 200 to 800. The composite score is calculated using only your Verbal and Quantitative component results. This score does not include your Analytical Writing and Integrated Reasoning scores.

You will also be given sectional scores. Scores for the Verbal and Quantitative parts vary from 0 to 60 in one-point increments.

The Analytical Writing portion has a score range of 0-6, with half-point increments, while the Integrated Reasoning component has a score range of 1-8, with one-point increments.

The GMAT is an adaptable test that is administered on a computer. This implies that the first question in each part will be of medium difficulty when students start the Quantitative and Verbal portions.

If you properly answer that question, the following question will be somewhat harder; if you erroneously respond, the next question will be a little easier. This procedure is repeated throughout the portion for both Quantitative and Verbal.

You cannot return to a GMAT question once you have answered it. Adaptive testing has been used to obtain more accurate results by picking particular questions with changing difficulty levels from a broader pool.

What is the GRE?

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) administers the GRE, which is used as an admission criterion at hundreds of graduate institutions, including business and law colleges. The test will assess your verbal and mathematical reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing abilities.

You may attempt the GRE up to 5 times during 12 months (once every 21 days). You can pick which scores are forwarded to the institutions you are applying to if they take the exam more than once.

GRE format

The GRE has three scored sections as well as an optional unscored or experimental component. The Analytical Writing portion would always come first, although you won't know which sections are scored or which are not.

Analytical Writing: There are two independent 30-minute writing exercises in this part. You will be required to create your unique argument on a topic and evaluate someone else's argument. This component is graded in half-point increments from 0 to 6.

Verbal Reasoning: The Verbal Reasoning test is divided into two 30-minute sessions, each with 20 questions. This section has three sorts of questions: reading comprehension, text completion, and sentence equivalence. Scores range from 130 to 170 in one-point increments.

Quantitative Reasoning: This test section, designed to assess your fundamental arithmetic skills, is divided into two 35-minute periods of 20 problems each. Multiple-choice questions with one or more responses, numerical input questions, or quantitative comparison questions are all possible.

Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis are the topics covered. Scores range from 130 to 170 in one-point increments.

During the Quantitative Reasoning phase of the test, you can utilize an on-screen calculator. You may go back and forth through each section, revise the answers, and flag questions for "Review" if you want to go over them again later.

GRE Scoring

Like the GMAT, the Analytical Writing component of the GRE has a score range of 0-6, with half-point increments. Both Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning are graded in the same manner.

Their scoring range is 130-170, with one-point increments in between. The three-part scores are often published separately rather than as a single composite score.

The GRE is also often administered on a computer and is section-level adaptive. This implies that your performance in the first segment will affect the difficulty of the questions examined in the second portion of Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning.

Unlike the GMAT, in which each question decides the difficulty of the next problem, your GRE score defines the difficulty of the following section on that subject. You can revisit questions you've previously answered within one section on the GRE.

Verbal Sections: GMAT vs GRE

Let's start with the verbal parts of each test. Though they share similarities, the GMAT focuses more on grammar, whilst the GRE focuses more on vocabulary.

Verbal GMAT

The GMAT Verbal portion assesses your ability to comprehend written content, evaluate arguments on various themes, and detect and rectify faults in written material.

There are three different kinds of questions:

Reading Comprehension: For such questions, you will read a paragraph and then answer any questions about it. The questions will frequently ask you to make inferences from the material or to assess an argument presented.

Critical Reading questions start with a brief paragraph; generally, 2-3 sentences long. Following the passage is a question that challenges you to assess and apply facts from the passage.

Most questions are identical to Reading Comprehension questions, except the passages are shorter and may contain points you must examine to answer the question.

Sentence Correction: These questions will contain a sentence highlighted in part or entirely. There will be five options for writing the underlined area beneath the statement, with the first choice duplicating the original text.

You will select the one you believe is right. These questions put your grammar and communication abilities to the test.

GRE Verbal

The Verbal Reasoning section of the GRE assesses your ability to analyze and make inferences from written excerpts, identify important points in texts, summarize passages, and comprehend the meaning of words, phrases, and entire passages.

Questions are classified into three types:

Reading Comprehension: You will be given a passage and compelled to answer the big picture plus particularly detailed questions about it.

Text Completion: There will be a brief section with one or more blanks for these questions. You'll be given a list of words to fill in each blank, and you'll have to select the most acceptable one.

Phrase Equivalence: You will be given one sentence with one blank and six response options. You must select the two alternatives that fit the sentence and construct sentences with similar or comparable meanings.

GMAT versus GRE in Quantitative

The quantitative parts of the GRE and GMAT cover similar arithmetic ideas, but their approaches to those areas differ significantly.

GMAT Quantitative

The GMAT features two components that assess math skills: Quantitative and Integrated Reasoning.

Quantitative Section: The Quantitative section has two sorts of problems: Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency.

Problem Solving: You may be required to solve equations, analyze graphs, assess data, or a mix of the three for problem-Solving tasks. They are comparable to many previous standardized math problems you have completed.

Data Sufficiency: Data Sufficiency difficulties (which account for around 14-16 of 37 Quantitative questions) are relatively uncommon. You'll be provided with a question followed by two assertions for these difficulties.

You must select if one, both, or neither claim is adequate to answer the question. (For such questions, you need not solve the issue; instead, you must assess whether you have enough knowledge to do so.)

Integrated Reasoning Section

The quantitative skills are also tested in the Integrated Reasoning question. This section has four sorts of questions: visual interpretation, two-part evaluation, table assessment, and multi-source reasoning. They assess your ability to evaluate and comprehend data to solve complicated challenges.

You must be able to evaluate the information provided in visuals, text, and numbers, combine information from numerous sources to answer complex issues, and locate and analyze correlations in information to solve questions in this part.

Many of these issues are complicated and contain numerous components, and you must properly answer every portion of the question to receive any points, making them more difficult.

GRE Quantitative

The Quantitative Reasoning section assesses your abilities in the following categories:

  • Geometry
  • Data Analysis
  • Algebra
  • Arithmetic

Most questions will be multiple-choice; however, there may be a few numeric entry questions where you must enter the proper answer rather than just picking from offered options.

There may also be a few Quantitative and multiple-choice Comparison questions. You will be given two amounts for these questions: A and B. You must decide if Quantity A is greater, Quantity B is greater, the two amounts are equal, or the connection cannot be determined.

Analytical Writing: GMAT vs GRE

The primary distinction between GRE and GMAT writing would be that the GMAT only needs one essay, whereas the GRE requires two. But keep reading for a more in-depth explanation.

GMAT Writing

The Analytical Writing Assessment Section of the GMAT features one essay prompt with a time limit of 30 minutes.

You will be provided with an argument and required to write an essay evaluating its strengths and faults. You are not expressing your viewpoint on the topic; rather, you are criticizing the offered viewpoint, its flaws, and how it may be improved.

GRE Writing

Analytical Writing requires you to complete two writings on the GRE: Analyze an Argument and Analyze a Task. Each essay will take 30 minutes to complete.

The Analyze an Argument essay is comparable to the GMAT essay. You will also be required to criticize a provided argument.

You'll be provided with an argument for Analyze a Task, and you'll need to describe your viewpoint on the problem and prove it with facts.

Test-Prep Materials Provided by the Test-Makers

ETS provides authentic GRE practice examinations to test takers. GMAC also offers authentic GMAT practice tests. Both tests include legitimate question banks that may be purchased.

One of the most common mistakes people make while studying for the GRE or GMAT is relying on unapproved practice problems. Invariably, these questions do not accurately reflect the patterns and difficulty level found on the exam.

As a result, the exam that gives you superior official materials to work from might provide a significant edge if combined with an organized prep plan.

Score Reporting Policies

While the GMAT result report includes all test results received and not canceled during the previous five years by an applicant, repeating GRE test-takers can pick which GRE scores to disclose to institutions. The GRE has a Score Select program that allows test takers to select and choose the scores they submit.

Is it better to take the GMAT or the GRE?

Although the great majority of business school candidates prefer the GMAT to the GRE, business schools sometimes accept GRE grades as part of the admissions requirements. This means you may take the test that best demonstrates your academic skills. Here are some things to consider as you choose the best selection.

Academic objectives: If you're looking into multiple graduate schools or want to leave your options on the table, the GRE is recognized in a larger range of degree programs. If you're confident about going to business college, then the GMAT is a good method to show your dedication.

School Requirements:
Many colleges recognize either score, but it's a good idea to double-check admissions standards ahead of time. Speak with an admissions representative to see if they have a preference between the two examinations.

Academic strengths: If your quantitative skills are stronger than your verbal capabilities, the GMAT may provide a better opportunity to demonstrate such abilities. Consider taking the GRE if you're a skilled writer. The GRE might be more difficult for non-native English speakers due to the terminology used.

Testing style: The GRE structure lets you hop around and look over your answers if you choose. Some exam takers may feel more confident as a result of this.

Exam performance practice: Taking a practice test for each is one technique to decide which one you're most suited for. Take them individually in conditions as near to reality as feasible. You'll have a better sense of your preference after taking and scoring your examinations.

Score reporting: If you take the GRE more than once, you can send different results to different institutions. Schools receive all of your GMAT results. Many programs take the highest score into account.

Career objectives: GMAT scores are required by some employers, notably investing and business consulting firms, as part of the job application process.

If you have specific target companies in mind, do your homework ahead of time. Passing the GMAT before entering business school may prevent you from having to retake it throughout your job search.

Which Exam Can You Improve Your Score On?

The practice test results will indicate how well you'll perform on either exam, but there are additional ways to predict how well you'll perform on the GRE vs GMAT.

Use a Conversion Table to Compare Scores

Because the GMAT and GRE employ distinct scoring schemes, comparing your two results might be tricky.

Make use of a conversion table to translate your results from one exam's scoring system to another. As a result, you'll be able to estimate your GRE score on the GMAT scale and vice-versa. This allows you to compare your two results more quickly and precisely, giving you a better idea of which test you'd perform better on.

Compare the Quantitative and Verbal Sections

As previously said, the GMAT often has more difficult quantitative problems, whilst the GRE contains slightly more difficult verbal questions.

Suppose you are much better in one area than another. In that case, playing to your strengths and selecting the exam corresponding to your advantages and disadvantages in those disciplines might be beneficial.

Think About Your Test-Taking Strategies

A third, less crucial but important thing to remember is that, unlike the GRE, you may go back and verify your performance on problems within the same section on the GMAT.

Once you respond to questions, you cannot go back to them. If you want to double-check your work or ignore problems thinking you could go back to it later, the GRE format may be better for you.

Do The Logistics Of One Exam Suit You More Than The Logistics Of The Other?

Finally, analyze the specifics of each assessment, such as when it is administered and how much it costs. These should not be your major considerations, but they are something to consider and can help you to make your ultimate selection.

Date And Location Of The Test

Both the GRE and the GMAT are available year-round at various testing locations, so you should have many options as to where and when you wish to take either exam.

However, because the GRE is given more frequently and in more locations than the GMAT, a testing facility for this exam will most likely be closer to you; however, this is not assured, and also the difference in distance may not be significant.

To avoid any unpleasant surprises, check the websites for each test to discover where the nearest test center is and whether there are still spaces available on the date you wish to take the test.


Because the fees of both tests are nearly identical, this is unlikely to be a decisive factor. However, it is still useful to be aware of this knowledge.

The cost of getting the GMAT is somewhat more than that of taking the GRE ($250 vs $205). The GMAT cost provides five complimentary score reports, but the GRE charge only covers four.

If you anticipate having to retake the test several times, the GMAT's increased price could be something to ponder. It charges $28 for each GMAT analysis and $27 per GRE report to deliver additional score reports.


Scholarships are another option you should consider. Some colleges need candidates to submit exam scores to be considered for certain scholarships. If you're searching for methods to cut your college expenditures, check sure you're not losing out on scholarships because of the standardized exam you decided to take.

As more business institutions recognize the GRE, more students are presented with the choice of taking the GMAT or the GRE.

Both examinations have written, mathematical, and verbal components that cover a wide range of topics. Most individuals agree that GMAT has more difficult quantitative problems while the GRE has slightly more difficult verbal ones.

Many business schools do not have a preference between both the examinations, but some favor the GMAT as they feel it assesses abilities more directly relevant to business school curricula and that presenting GMAT scores demonstrates the applicant's commitment to business school.

To determine which exam to take, first examine the exam rules of the top institutions you're considering, then take a mock test for each. Examine this material, as well as the distinctions between the examinations, to assist you in making your final selection.

Remember that your test results are only one component of your application; you should also ensure that other components, such as your statement of purpose and recommendation letters, are solid to improve your chances of admission to your preferred school.

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