The GRE is now competing with GMAT as the standard admission test for business school. The revised GRE will be accepted at over 450 MBA accredited institutions/programs, creating another dilemma for applicants.

For many of our non-MBA track customers (we just received an acceptance to the Harvard Kennedy School), the GRE is the only test accepted.

We offer GRE instruction, and have noticed rising demand for this test from Swiss Masters (mostly St Gallen) and international MBAs and graduate schools.

GRE prep is usually 1:1, and we will announce a class as soon as we receive sufficient interest.

I recently performed a detailed analysis of the GRE (Graduate Record Exam).

Here are the major differences that I found:

1. Cost

The GRE is cheaper ($140 vs. $250.)

2. Math section

The GRE math is easier. Why? The GRE is a general graduate school test. Many applicants use it to enter non-technical graduate programs. It is much easier to outperform than on GMAT, which attracts a much more mathematically inclined group. So it’s no wonder that the math on the GMAT is more difficult than that on the GRE.

The “catch” to this point is GRE is not as tolerant to  mistakes as GMAT. The first section of 20 questions is not mathematically hard, but a silly mistake can mean that the test-taker does not “qualify” for the second round of math questions, and this is where a good score is decided.

3. Verbal

Here there are major differences. The GRE is highly dependent on vocabulary. For non-natives, this is a huge problem. GMAT is recognition-based multiple choice, so you can use the context to help you with unknown words.

GMAT has a more logical orientation, and this can actually benefit non-natives, assuming they are good readers in English.

Both tests assume native-level proficiency, so there is no easy way out for people not confident in their English abilities.


4. What do schools want.

The GMAT is a pure-play for business school. The GRE is a newcomer to business school.

The GMAT makes it easy for schools to benchmark applicants. Often the GMAT is the only point in common on a diverse group of applications.

When I asked the schools, they mentioned the GRE as a way to attract women. MBAs are under pressure to increase enrolment among women. The GRE, with its more general orientation, is perhaps a way to take down a significant barrier (GMAT)  to women.

5. The final word

If you are looking at a general master’s, and not MBA, probably take the GRE.

If your math is not good, GRE math will probably be a bit quicker to crack.

If you are surely on an MBA track, the GMAT is the traditional test that MBAs expect and understand.

If you can’t decide, each test offers a free download exam that gives an accurate score. Take a practice test and see what feels “easier”.

Still don’t know? Call me and give me a bit of your personal background and I’ll make a recommendation.

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