Should I Take the GRE for Business School?

By - Jan 15, 15:08 PM Comments [0]

What does business school have to do with the GRE?

Unlike the GMAT, which only those applying to business school sit for, the GRE is typically known as a test for those who are interested in non-business (non-law, now-medical, etc.) graduate programs.

Back in October, ETS (the GMAC of the GRE) posted an important press release on its website regarding the increasing popularity of the revised GRE for business school admissions:


Will taking the GRE instead of the GMAT decrease my chances of admission into business school?

For those of you who are considering business school but are still uncertain whether the GRE has as much clout as the GMAT, the press release above should somewhat allay your anxiety. Apparently, over 1,000 schools worldwide accept GRE scores—from Harvard to the Rotterdam School of Management. ETS trumpets this fact as an example of the diversity of candidates that take the GRE compared to the GMAT.  Meaning business schools have the advantage of selecting from even a wider pool of candidates.

Nonetheless such an expansive roster does not necessarily mean that these schools weigh the GMAT and the GRE equally. That question is perhaps answerable on a case-by-case basis. Meaning that not every admissions committee will weigh the GRE the same as the GMAT.

The good news is that with so many schools accepting GRE scores there is surely a growing awareness—and acceptance—that the scores represent a valid measure. Especially if a business school website advertises the fact that it accepts GRE scores, you should be anything but leery about submitting a GRE score. Taking the GRE over the GMAT also provides the advantage—as the press release mentions—of keeping the option of graduate school open.

Something not mentioned, but an interesting consequence of the growing acceptance of the GRE for business school is that an increased applicant pool means more competition. As the article notes, the GRE is less expensive and less daunting than the GMAT (even ETS concedes that the scroll-feature makes things far less anxiety-inducing). So if you are applying to business school, regardless of the test you take, you will be competing against more students.


Is the GMAT more difficult than the GRE?

The answer to this question is it depends. That is, it depends on who is taking the test. For those with strong Quant skills the GRE math will seem easy. The GMAT math is definitely more daunting. So if you struggle with Quant the GMAT will seem very difficult, and the scoring is much more competitive.

On the other hand if you struggle with the nuances of vocabulary and style, the GRE verbal section may be very difficult. That is not to say that the GMAT verbal is easier. But the Sentence Corrections section is more of the science of grammar, and those with logical minds tend to be more adept at quickly sifting through a morass of words to find grammatical errors. The GRE Text Completions and Sentence Equivalence questions, by contrast, are testing the art of word usage, a skill most humanities majors have been honing for years.


Which test should I take?

Again, if you are not going to business school, but are only going to graduate school, you have to take the GRE. This even goes for those who are getting their degrees in Economics.

For those applying to business school, first make sure that your program accepts the GRE. If so, then ask yourself which test better shows off your strengths. If you are unsure, you can always take an official GRE practice test and an official GMAT test (both are free). If you score significantly better on one, then the answer is clear. If there isn’t much difference, spend a week getting a feel for each test to see which one suits your skill set better.

The takeaway from all this is to know it probably only a matter of time before the GRE is accepted at all business schools. Of course you should follow up with the program you are interested in to see how they weigh the GRE. If the program is very competitive or quant-heavy, then you may still want to take the GMAT. But ask the program directly and gauge their response. If they say the GRE is fine, then by all means take the GRE, if you feel it is the test that will better show your potential.


This post was written by Chris Lele, GMAT/GRE expert at Magoosh.

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