Let’s face it. The GMAT is a special beast. But it’s a definitely a beast in good company. With record numbers of people hanging up their work hats and heading back to school, tests like the GMAT, GRE, and the LSAT are becoming ever more important. Of course people choosing these different tests are headed down fairly different paths, but they all start in the same place-- planning to take an exam that they hope will demonstrate how qualified they are for an acceptance into their dream schools, whether for law, business, or academia.
Since you’re here, I’m guessing your primary focus is the GMAT, but you might be interested to know the trials and tribulations of your brethren, and how your exam compares. Or, possibly, you’ve taken either the GRE or LSAT before, and have had a change of heart and want to know how much of your previous test experience is transferable to the GMAT.
Comparing the GMAT and LSAT, you’re left mostly with the feeling that these tests have managed to corner their respective audiences pretty well. They’re quite specialized, competitive, and the scores can make or break your acceptance-- the “dream scores” tend to be very high (170+ for the LSAT, and 700+ for the GMAT). As for content, there’s very little overlap. What the GMAT calls Critical Reasoning, the LSAT calls Logical Reasoning, and these questions tend to be very similar-- so much so that GMAT students often use LSAT material for extra practice on these questions, since they make up a much smaller portion of the exam on the GMAT than they do on the LSAT, which focuses heavily on logic in general. The GMAT, on the other hand is much more quantitative-based, and also has a Verbal section that requires a lot of grammar prep.
The GRE and LSAT have a few more similarities, as you’d expect with those verbose misanthropes over on that end of the grad test spectrum. Reading Comprehension is a good overlap, which makes sense. Both groups have a lot of reading to do in their respective futures! However, the LSAT doesn’t have a math portion, whereas the GRE does, albeit a slightly easier one than the GMAT’s.
The last comparison to be made is: GRE vs. GMAT which have the greatest overlap in concepts tested, as well as question formats. The two Verbal sections have Reading Comprehension in common, but also notably have two different focuses: the GRE on vocabulary, and the GMAT on grammar. The two Quant sections are quite similar in structure and concepts and vary only a bit in terms of difficulty level and complexity. The GMAT has tougher questions, and even a separate section altogether about graphs and data, called Integrated Reasoning.
I’d recommend to my future business leaders that they spend their time with their noses buried deep in the economist when studying for the GMAT, but LSAT and GRE folks would be much more inclined to find their fingers perusing the pages of the New Yorker. Many of the verbal inclined test takers are also finding relief in studying the GRE for business school (Shh! The GMAT doesn’t like to hear that!), though I think for many of you out there, verbal section of the GRE vs the GMAT is much more intimidating, and I have this feeling that if most GMAT takers jumped ship to the GRE, we’d see a severe drop in average GRE scores. The GRE and the LSAT force you to worry about word lists, but the vocabulary on the GMAT’s not going to be quite at the same level. Revel in that fact, dear GMATers!
You’ll face your own hurdles with the GMAT, but you don’t need me to tell you that. But next time you’re jeering at those bookworms studying for the LSAT about how easy life is in a permutation free world, remember that the GMAT’s not so bad in some regards (okay, and pretty terrible in others...).