Which test should I take - the GMAT or the GRE?

Many students ask me whether they should take the GMAT or the GRE. Often their motivation is to avoid what they think is the harder GMAT maths. The truth is that there are more similarities between the tests than there are differences.

1.    The Structure of the Tests

Should I take - the GMAT or the GRE test? Which one is better for me?


  • Writing- 1 question – 30 mins
  • Integrated Reasoning – 12 questions- 30 mins
  •  Maths – 37 questions – 75 mins
  • Verbal (English) – 41 questions – 75 mins
  • Total test time – 3 hours 30 mins

GRE Test

  • Writing – 2 questions – 60 mins
  • Maths – 2 sections of 20 questions each – 70 mins
  • Verbal – 2 sections of 20 questions each – 60 mins
  • 1 unscored experimental section – 30-35 mins
  • Total test time - 3 hours 40 mins – 3 hours 45 mins


2.    Scoring

  • In both tests the writing is scored out of 6, in half-point increments.
  • The integrated reasoning on the GMAT is also scored separately and does not contribute to your score in the main parts of the test – the maths and verbal sections.
  • On the GMAT the maths and verbal sections contribute to a score out of 800.
  • On the GRE the maths and verbal sections are scored separately on a scale ranging from 130 – 170.


3.    Differences

  • There are many vocabulary questions on the GRE and the vocabulary tested on the GRE is wider than that tested on the GMAT.
  • There are more critical reasoning questions on the GMAT than on the GRE.
  • There is no Data Sufficiency on the GMAT. The comparable section on the GRE is known as Quantitative Comparison.
  • The GMAT is computer-adaptive at question level. This means that if you get a question right, the next one gets harder. This places considerable pressure on test takers.
  • The GRE is computer-adaptive at section level. For example, if you do well on the first maths section, the next maths section gets harder.


4. Conclusion

A common idea is that, given the option, you should take the GRE if your maths skills are not at the highest level. I honestly believe there is very little difference between the tests. One indication of this comes from my own personal story. On the GRE I scored in the 98th percentile on two sections of the test. On the GMAT I scored in the 99th percentile on the test overall. Both tests are challenging. Good luck in your preparation!