Hey guys, GRE Instead of GMAT for B-Schools?
There has been a lot of conversation about this topic over the past few years and I thought I would share some of my thoughts surrounding this GMAT/GRE debate, so you can consider the implications it may have for you if any.
The GMAT still has a monopoly at business schools but the GRE is trying to chip away. The GMAT is the time-honored hoop to jump through for virtually all students seeking admission to business school while the Educational Testing Service (ETS), which administers the GRE, is taking aim at the b-school market by introducing the GRE. The GRE is used by a wider range of graduate schools, as an alternative to the GMAT. I took the GRE when I went to graduate school for Clinical Psychology. I like to refer to it as an SAT on steroids (as they expect you to know thousands more words on the verbal). If you have taken the SAT, you have seen many question types that exist on the GRE.
So now there is a dogfight as ETS wants to collect some more revenue and GMAC wants to keep it all. Proponents of the GRE option say they believe it may help b-schools attract classes that are more diverse and to land students who are considering both business school and master’s or Ph.D. programs in other business-related fields. What we do know is that schools are still figuring out what they want to do, whether accept GRE scores quietly (not publicizing it) or on a case-by-case basis.
Should you take the GRE over the GMAT? Some Things to Consider:
1. Some top-tier business programs such as Stanford and MIT’s Sloan School of Management accept the GRE. Stanford says the GMAT is required for admission but it will accept the GRE as an alternative. Some schools are more lenient in accepting the scores and “allow for degrees of freedom.” This is just to show you that it would be OK should you choose this route.
2. Do you already have a GRE score in the bank? Basically if a school you are applying to accepts the GRE and you already have a score (within the time frame and it’s a top-notch score), it may save you time to bypass the testing portion of the whole cycle. Not many people fill this space.
3. The GRE is changing. A new test can mean many things good and bad (i.e. GRE will be longer). Launching in 2011, ETS says it will be “more closely aligned with the types of skills that are required to meet today’s demanding business school expectations.” This could also mean business schools may change how they look at it – we don’t know this yet.
4. Are you unsure about business school? Taking the GRE may keep more options open earlier in your path to some type of graduate school.
5. What are your strengths? If a test is better suited to your strengths, then take that one. It was the same argument in high school – SAT vs. ACT.
6. A test is a test. Whether it is the GMAT or GRE you will most likely have a similar approach in your preparation (time, discipline, practice, etc). People in general tend to be less fearful of the GRE than the GMAT from what I have noticed in my 16 years in the business but the GMAT isn’t a bigger deal (and shouldn’t be more anxiety provoking).
7. Impressions. Some schools may consider scoring high on the GMAT math section more impressive than a 700+ on the GRE quant especially if you apply to math heavy (finance and economics) programs. I would ask them.
8. Are you serious? Preparing for and taking the GMAT may show that you are more serious of an applicant in deciding to pursue an MBA. This may not be true for all applicants and depends on each individual story but if you can back up your focus in your essays, it may show more commitment.
It may sound like I am saying take the GRE…I am not saying that. You still need to consider your personal situation and determine what is best for you at the particular time. On a final note, I don’t believe there is one test that measures the ability of a student to be successful in business (or graduate school).
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