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After taking several official practice GRE and GMAT tests, I notice that my GRE scores are more competitive than my GMAT scores. This is in part due to me not fully mastering some math concepts heavily tested on the GMAT, such as prime factorization, and due to the math section being a little easier overall. I am thinking about taking the GRE instead, but before I do I have several questions.
The makers of the GMAT claim that the test is a great indicator of the skills needed to succeed in business school, but people typically translate that to mean analytical skills. Of course, the GRE tests analytical skills as well. Do the specific "soft" skills tested on the GMAT, such as the ability to solve prime factorization problems efficiently (which will take hours of practice I am not willing to blow), translate into better success in an MBA program?
In other words, will studying the GMAT rather than the GRE make me better prepared for business school?
You have to take what GMAC says with a grain of salt - you have to expect the makers of the primary MBA admissions exam to state they are the best possible exam for it. However, there is a reason the GRE is accepted for mostly non-MBA programs, and the GMAT for business school.
That said - just studying for the GMAT will not better prepare you for business school itself. Doing GMAT math will not give you an advantage when it comes to regressions models, for example. The GMAT is adapting itself to the needs of the market, however, so their reading comp and the new IR section are things important for business schools to assess.
Lastly - only a handful of the top programs accept a GRE score in lieu of a GMAT score. There are two simple reasons for that. Rankings and relative assessment.
So before you lightly substitute the GRE for the GMAT and think they're the same, think carefully about it. We do not advise any of our clients to avoid the GMAT simply because they think they'll do better on the GRE. If that's the case, take both.
Re: Should I take and submit the GRE? [#permalink]
08 Apr 2014, 19:11
Thank you for the response. I wouldn't say that the math portions of either tests are devoid of real-world applicability (whether this means business school applicability is a different question). Having a good grasp of the algebraic foundations will help you learn the more advanced math, which will help you in a career in economics or finance. That said, prime factorization and number theory, which is tested heavily on the GMAT, seems to only have real world applicability on only a handful of skills at the moment, such as cryptography.
I guess my question is, outside of the IR (which I don't have a problem with), is there other math sections the GMAT will focus on that will better help me in business school or on the job. I already know your answer is no, but I feel we are missing some important points (for example, algebra certainly is important in the real-world). My goal is not just to get the best score I can get for the best school I can get, but also to hopefully use this prep time as an opportunity to gain knowledge in solving pragmatic problems and honing skills needed to advance my career. At the moment, it is the only way I can trick myself to justify spending another month prepping for these things, considering I have other obligations, (work, family, side projects, etc.)
You're right - both have applicability - no doubt about that. But it's difficult to bifurcate the impact of that exam versus things you learned in grade school. Loved your comment about cryptography . I think the main thing GMAT is trying to test is your ability to think under pressure. You can score a 750 and not know anything about number theory as long as you understand the strategy and have a solid grasp on most of the other concepts. So while you need to know most of the topics tested, you definitely don't need to know them all either. Going from a 650 to a 750 is as much as about strategy as it is just raw knowledge.
I see what you're trying to do here, however. Things like algebra, linear equations, percents, powers, stats, etc. will all play into your MBA experience. Understanding these concepts will be important no matter what you choose to do. My point in saying it wouldn't be incredibly applicable was to say these are fairly basic concepts. They might be things you're no longer too familiar with (it's probably been a while) and while getting up to speed during prep is great, it won't be the advanced frameworks you need to rock the classroom. For that, there are a lot of pre-MBA prep programs out there (e.g. MBA Math) that focuses on the math concepts you'll need during bschool.
That said, practice makes perfect. And if prepping for a bit more means a better score AND you know the basics inside and out - then that'll be a great foundation. Also, really focus during this last month on test strategy. For example, if you absolutely cannot get an advanced topic, you'll probably be better off learning to recognize it and skip than you are trying to understand the concept. Because the more you study a topic, the more you put yourself into a trap when you're taking the test thinking, "oh, I studied this, I should know this, so I'll spend some time here..." When what you should have done was just move on immediately. Especially because super advanced concepts don't show up with that much frequency. Let me caveat this by saying we are not a GMAT prep company nor do we provide any test prep services. The advice above is meant in good faith.