GMAT vs GRE for MBA admissions: everything you need to know in 2024

    Jeremy Coppock
    Jeremy Coppock

    Jeremy is an education researcher, journalist, and editor for Degreechoices. He majored in Slavic languages and has a master’s degree in Eastern European studies.

    He has previous experience as a fraud analyst, in-house translator, teacher, and truck driver.

    GMAT vs GRE for MBA admissions: everything you need to know in 2024

      Most MBA programs require you to take the GMAT.

      However, more and more business schools now accept the GRE as well.

      Both tests are challenging in their own way.

      Many test takers find that the GRE verbal section is more difficult, but the GMAT quant section is harder.

      The format of both exams has changed significantly over the past year. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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      Despite some insistence to the contrary, the GMAT and the GRE have a lot in common. Both exams test your logical/quantitative reasoning and English skills to determine whether you’re truly prepared for a high-caliber graduate program.

      The organizations behind these 2 standardized tests claim that a high score on their exam is the best single predictor of success in grad school.

      While this may be debatable, a lot of grad schools agree, and many programs continue to require standardized testing as part of their admissions process.

      In this article, we explore the GMAT vs GRE question by describing the main differences between the two tests – in the context of MBA admissions.

      Key differences between the GMAT and the GRE

      The main difference between the GRE and the GMAT is the goals of the test taker: the GMAT targets people pursuing an MBA (master’s in business administration). As such, many questions test logic skills you might need as a corporate leader.

      Meanwhile, the GRE is a generalist exam that is required for a broad range of master’s degrees, especially in the humanities and liberal arts.

      » Also read: Fastest online MBAs

      What is the GMAT?

      The GMAT, or the Graduate Management Admissions Test, is a standardized test used in the MBA admissions process. First administered in 1953, it is produced by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), an international non-profit business school association.

      It claims to be a reliable predictor of success in business school.

      The GMAT has recently rebranded as the GMAT Focus, with some changes to its structure and content. The classic GMAT is being phased out in the first quarter of 2024.

      The new GMAT Focus is considerably shorter. In addition, it no longer has an essay (analytical writing assessment) and has dropped grammar and geometry questions entirely.

      What is the GRE?

      The GRE, or Graduate Records Examinations, is a standardized test used in grad school admissions for a wide range of programs. Owned by the Educational Testing Service, it has been administered since 1936, making it the older of the 2 exams.

      More and more MBA programs (and even law schools) are beginning to accept the GRE.

      Like the GMAT, the GRE also introduced changes in 2023. The new, shorter GRE takes less than 2 hours to complete and no longer features the “Analyze an Argument” task in the Analytical Writing section. Likewise, there are less questions in the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections, and the unscored section has been removed.

      » Also read: Best 1-year MBA programs

      GRE vs. GMAT

      GMAT Focus GRE
      Student profile MBA/ business students General grad students
      Cost US $275 ($300 online) $220 (financial aid available)
      Length 2 hours 15 minutes, 64 questions 1 hour 58 minutes
      How often you can take it Once every 16 days, 5x per 12 months Once every 21 days, 5x per 12 months
      Testing location Test center or home Test center or home
      Score validity 5 years 5 years
      Sections Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Data Insights Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Data Insights
      Score range Total score ranging from 205-805

      Section scores ranging from 60-90

      Verbal/quant reasoning scores ranging from 130-170 each

      Analytical writing score ranging from 0-6

      Submitting scores Send free to 4 schools on test day, then there’s a fee Send free to 5 schools, deciding which get the scores in 48 hours, then there’s a fee

      Computer-adaptive test taking

      The GRE and the GMAT are both computer-adaptive tests. This means that the difficulty of the questions you’re given changes based on how well you’re doing on the test.

      If you’re totally killing it, the system “adapts” and gives you more challenging questions. If it’s more of a struggle bus, you’ll get easier questions (and a lower score).

      The GRE is adaptive at the section level. If you do well on your first Verbal section, for example, the second section will be harder. If you do poorly, the second section will be easier.

      Meanwhile, the GMAT adapts at the question level. Each new question is based on how you answered the previous one.

      One important consequence of this is that the GRE lets you skip around within a section, while the GMAT does not.

      However, the GMAT allows you to “bookmark” completed questions and edit them after you finish a section, time permitting. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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      Is GMAT or GRE better for MBA degrees?

      More and more business schools are accepting GRE scores in place of the GMAT. In fact, some MBA programs have dropped standardized testing requirements entirely. This is especially true of online programs.

      While many prestigious business schools still insist on the GMAT, if the GRE is accepted as an alternative, there’s no reason you shouldn’t go for it. After all, both exams test a similar skill and knowledge set. Furthermore, many business schools don’t penalize students for taking the GRE instead of the GMAT.

      After thoroughly reading the admissions criteria for the programs you’re interested in, play to your strengths. Take the test where you have the best chance at excelling. Try your hand at practice tests online to see which test best aligns with your fortes.

      GMAT structure

      The GMAT Focus consists of 3 sections. You have 45 minutes to complete each one. Sample questions are taken from, which belongs to GMAC, the same organization that writes the GMAT.

      Click on the blocks below to see example questions.

      If a certain wheel turns at a constant rate of x revolutions per minute, how many revolutions will the wheel make in k seconds?


      1. 60kx
      2. kx
      3. x÷k
      4. x÷(60k)
      5. kx÷60

      Reading comprehension question


      Schools expect textbooks to be a valuable source of information for students. My research suggests, however, that textbooks that address the place of Native Americans within the history of the United States distort history to suit a particular cultural value system.


      In some textbooks, for example, settlers are pictured as more humane, complex, skillful, and wise than Native Americans. In essence, textbooks stereotype and depreciate the numerous Native American cultures while reinforcing the attitude that the European conquest of the New World denotes the superiority of European cultures.


      Although textbooks evaluate Native American architecture, political systems, and homemaking, I contend that they do it from an ethnocentric, European perspective without recognizing that other perspectives are possible.


      One argument against my contention asserts that, by nature, textbooks are culturally biased and that I am simply underestimating children’s ability to see through these biases. Some researchers even claim that by the time students are in high school, they know they cannot take textbooks literally.


      Yet substantial evidence exists to the contrary. Two researchers, for example, have conducted studies that suggest that children’s attitudes about particular cultures are strongly influenced by the textbooks used in schools. Given this, an ongoing, careful review of how school textbooks depict Native Americans is certainly warranted.


      Which of the following would most logically be the topic of the paragraph immediately following the passage?

      1. Specific ways to evaluate the biases of United States history textbooks
      2. The centrality of the teacher’s role in United States history courses
      3. Nontraditional methods of teaching United States history
      4. The contributions of European immigrants to the development of the United States
      5. Ways in which parents influence children’s political attitudes


      Critical reasoning question


      Mall Owner: Our mall’s occupancy rate is so low that we are barely making a profit. We cannot raise rents because of an unacceptably high risk of losing established tenants. On the other hand, a mall that is fully occupied costs about as much to run as one in which a rental space here and a rental space there stands empty.

      Clearly, therefore, to increase profits we must sign up new tenants.


      Which of the following, if true, most seriously weakens the argument?


      1. The mall’s operating costs could be cut by consolidating currently rented spaces in such a way that an entire wing of the mall could be closed up.
      2. The mall is located in a geographic area in which costs incurred for air-conditioning in the hot summers exceed those incurred for heating in the mild winters by a wider margin.
      3. The mall’s occupancy rate, though relatively low, has been relatively stable for several years.
      4. The mall lost tenants as a result of each of the two major rent increases that have occurred there.
      5. None of the mall’s established tenants is likely to need additional floor space there in the foreseeable future.

      What is the monthly rent for a certain apartment?


      (1) The monthly rent per person for 4 people to share the rent for the apartment is $375.

      (2) The monthly rent per person for 4 people to share the rent of the apartment is $125 less than the monthly rent per person for 3 people to share the rent.


      1. Statement (1) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (2) alone is not sufficient.
      2. Statement (2) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (1) alone is not sufficient.
      3. BOTH statements TOGETHER are sufficient, but NEITHER statement ALONE is sufficient.
      4. EACH statement ALONE is sufficient.
      5. Statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are NOT sufficient.


      The Data Insights sections also includes


      Multi-Source Reasoning questions

      Table Analysis questions

      Graphics Interpretation questions

      Two-Part Analysis questions.

      GRE structure

      The GRE consists of 5 sections; it takes a total of 1 hour and 58 minutes to complete.

      The Analytical Writing section requires you to write an essay about a complex topic.

      The 2 Verbal Reasoning sections involve reading comprehension questions, text completion questions, and sentence equivalence questions.

      The 2 Quantitative Reasoning sections include quantitative comparison questions, multiple-choice questions, numeric entry questions, and data interpretation questions.

      Click on the sections below to see some sample questions, taken from, which develops the GRE.

      As people rely more and more on technology to solve problems, the ability of humans to think for themselves will surely deteriorate.


      Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.

      Reading comprehension


      Reviving the practice of using elements of popular music in classical composition, an approach that had been in hibernation in the United States during the 1960s, composer Philip Glass (born 1937) embraced the ethos of popular music in his compositions. Glass based two symphonies on music by rock musicians David Bowie and Brian Eno, but the symphonies’ sound is distinctively his. Popular elements do not appear out of place in Glass’s classical music, which from its early days has shared certain harmonies and rhythms with rock music. Yet this use of popular elements has not made Glass a composer of popular music. His music is not a version of popular music packaged to attract classical listeners; it is high art for listeners steeped in rock rather than the classics.


      1. The passage addresses which of the following issues related to Glass’s use of popular elements in his classical compositions?


        1. How it is regarded by listeners who prefer rock to the classics
        2. How it has affected the commercial success of Glass’s music
        3. Whether it has contributed to a revival of interest among other composers in using popular elements in their compositions
        4. Whether it has had a detrimental effect on Glass’s reputation as a composer of classical music
        5. Whether it has caused certain of Glass’s works to be derivative in quality


      Text completion


      For each blank select one entry from the corresponding column of choices. Fill all blanks in the way that best completes the text.


      It is refreshing to read a book about our planet by an author who does not allow facts to be (i)_______ by politics: well aware of the political disputes about the effects of human activities on climate and biodiversity, this author does not permit them to (ii)_______ his comprehensive description of what we know about our biosphere. He emphasizes the enormous gaps in our knowledge, the sparseness of our observations, and the (iii)_______, calling attention to the many aspects of planetary evolution that must be better understood before we can accurately diagnose the condition of our planet.


      Blank (i)

      (A) overshadowed

      (B) invalidated

      (C) illuminated


      Blank (ii)

      (D) enhance

      (E) obscure

      (F) underscore


      Blank (iii)

      (G) plausibility of our hypotheses

      (H) certainty of our entitlement

      (I) superficiality of our theories


      Sentence equivalency


      Select the two answer choices that, when used to complete the sentence, fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole and produce completed sentences that are alike in meaning.

      Although it does contain some pioneering ideas, one would hardly characterize the work as _________.

      A. orthodox

      B. eccentric

      C. original

      D. trifling

      E. conventional

      F. innovative

      Quantitative Comparison


      Compare Quantity A and Quantity B, using additional information centered above the two quantities if such information is given.

      1. Quantity A Quantity B


      The least prime number greater than 24 The greatest prime number less than 28

      1. Quantity A is greater.
      2. Quantity B is greater.
      3. The two quantities are equal.
      4. The relationship cannot be determined from the information given


      Multiple-Choice – Select one answer


      Select a single answer choice.

      1. If 5x + 32 = 4-2x, what is the value of x

      1. -4
      2. -3
      3. 4
      4. 7
      5. 12


      Multiple-Choice – Select one or more answers


      Select one or more answer choices according to the specific question directions. If the question does not specify how many answer choices to select, select all that apply. The correct answer may be just one of the choices or as many as all of the choices, depending on the question. No credit is given unless you select all of the correct choices and no others. If the question specifies how many answer choices to select, select exactly that number of choices.

      1. Which of the following integers are multiples of both 2 and 3? Indicate all such integers.

      1. 8
      2. 9
      3. 12
      4. 18
      5. 21
      6. 36


      Numeric Entry Questions


      Enter your answer as an integer or a decimal if there is a single answer box OR as a fraction if there are two separate answer boxes — one for the numerator and one for the denominator.

      1. One pen costs $0.25 and one marker costs $0.35. At those prices, what is the total cost of 18 pens and 100 markers?


      Is the GMAT harder than the GRE?

      It depends on your strengths! The consensus among test-takers is that GMAT math is harder, whereas the GRE verbal sections are harder.

      Before committing to studying for one of these exams, try out some practice tests online to see where you excel.

      Remember that neither of these tests are easy. Either way, you’ll need to devote several months of studying to prepare.

      GMAT verbal vs GRE verbal

      Whereas the GMAT has 1 verbal section, the GRE has 2. However, on both tests, they only take a total of 40-45 minutes.

      Question format aside (see the section above), the GRE requires a better knowledge of vocabulary, whereas the GMAT verbal section places a greater emphasis on analytical thinking.

      GMAT vs GRE math

      Both the GMAT and the GRE test high-school level math and logical reasoning skills. The quant sections of each test will take you about an hour to complete.

      The GMAT quant section places more of an emphasis on interpreting data from tables, text, or statistics whereas the GRE gives you more straight up math problems. Unlike the GMAT, the GRE lets you use a calculator.

      Among test takers, the GMAT quant section is often perceived to be more challenging than the GRE.

      Alternatives to the GRE and GMAT for MBA hopefuls

      Not every brilliant student is a brilliant standardized test-taker. Luckily, more and more MBA programs are recognizing this, meaning you can get your MBA without needing to take the GRE or the GMAT at all.

      Another option for mid-career businesspeople who want an MBA is an Executive Assessment Test. While this is yet another standardized test (designed by the same people who make the GMAT), it’s more tailored towards working professionals. It tests the skills that executives use on a daily basis.

      » Also read: Best MBA programs with no GMAT required

      Closing thoughts: Should I take the GMAT or GRE?

      If you’re planning to apply for MBA programs, taking the GMAT is the most traditional route. However, if you’re certain you’d get a better score on the GRE, look for a business school that accepts that exam as an alternative.

      At the end of the day, the most important consideration when choosing an MBA shouldn’t be what standardized tests are accepted, but rather the program’s ROI. Not all MBAs offer a good return on the time and money you invest in a degree.

      See our rankings of the best-value MBA programs in the country and save money on your education. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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