The following guide might provide a helpful comparison of the two tests both in terms of content and the role of each test in admissions.
GRE vs. GMAT
The recent decision by top business schools to accept GRE scores as an alternative to GMAT scores has sparked interest in the differences between the two tests. Manhattan GMAT
and Manhattan GRE have used our wealth of experience with both tests to analyze the tests. In comparing the GRE and the GMAT two distinct fields are important – test content and structure, as well as the place of each test in admissions.
The Place of the GMAT and GRE in Admissions
In terms of which test is better for the application process, what we’ve heard from admissions counselors is that the reason business schools have chosen to accept the GRE is to attract a students from a larger variety of backgrounds. They have also said that there is no benefit to taking one test over the other. In making your decision on which test to take, therefore, you should consider the following:
1. Focus on where you’re looking to go: If you are absolutely positive that you only want to go to business school, then the GMAT might be the way to go, since there’s a much better history of how business schools take into account your GMAT score. If you think you might want to apply to a variety of programs including business school, consider the GRE, since it will save you time and money to study for one test, not two. Before making this decision but make sure that all of the business schools you’re looking to apply to accept the GRE.
2. Think about your background: The math section on the GRE is generally considered to be easier than the math section on the GMAT; if you feel that your previous transcripts and work experience do not showcase your math skills, it might be worth considering the GMAT in order to show off your abilities.
3. Play to your strengths: if you know that you are better suited to the skills tested on the GRE, such as vocabulary, you might want to consider that test. When making this selection be sure to take into account that you want a balanced application to present to schools.
Format and Content Differences between the GMAT and GRE
Both the GRE and GMAT contain quantitative and verbal questions, however the GMAT presents a combined score on a scale of 200-800 while the GRE present a score of 200-800 on each section separately. As such, a perfect GMAT score is an 800 while a perfect GRE score is a 1600. There are also differences in the content and format of each section as follows.
Both tests contain standard problem solving questions. In these, a question is asked, and you must select the right answer from five choices. Unique to the GMAT is a question type called Data Sufficiency. You are asked a question, and provided with two statements. You are asked to decide whether the statements, either alone or used together, provide enough information to answer the question. Note that you are not actually required to answer the question.
Unique to the GRE are two additional question types: Quantitative Comparisons and Data Interpretation. On Quantitative Comparison questions, you are provided with two columns, and asked to determine which column contains the larger value. On Data Interpretation questions, you are asked questions about the data contained in one or more graphs or tables.
Although the topics covered by both tests (Algebra, Geometry, Number Theory, etc.) are essentially equivalent, it is FAR more difficult to get a top score on the GMAT than on the GRE. In fact, getting a perfect score on the GRE Quant section is only 94th percentile.
The Verbal section on the GMAT has three question types: Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension. Sentence Corrections test your knowledge of grammar and sentence structure as you select the best version of a sentence from five options. Critical Reasoning presents an argument (generally flawed or incomplete) and asks questions that test your ability to assimilate and assess that argument. Reading Comprehension provides an excerpted passage and asks questions about that passage. This question type will be very familiar to anyone who has taken the SAT or ACT.
The Verbal section of the GRE has four question types: Reading Comprehension, Analogies, Antonyms and Sentence Completion. Reading Comprehension on the GRE is similar to Reading Comprehension on the GMAT, although the passages are shorter and there is more time pressure. The remaining three question types are all VERY dependent on vocabulary. The principle activity of anyone studying for the GRE verbal section will be acquisition of a larger vocabulary.
I hope this was helpful.
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