Can I Take the GRE Instead of the GMAT?

Back when the GRE was updated, we posted an article about how this new format could be the GMAT killer. While the GRE has not overtaken GMAT in terms of popularity for admissions to business programs, it certainly has gained more secure footing as a competitor. At the time of our last post, the GRE was accepted by over 450 MBA programs. Now, according to the ETS website, about 1200 programs worldwide accept the GRE in place of the GMAT, including over 900 programs in the US. A full list of MBA programs that will accept the GRE in place of the GMAT can be found on the ETS website.

So, does that mean you can take the GRE instead of the GMAT? Short answer, yes with an if, long answer maybe with a but.

If you google “GRE vs. GMAT” you’ll find a range of opinions on the matter. Drawn out listicles full of personal experience and “expert” opinions will overwhelm you with so many questions to ask yourself that they may only leave you questioning your life and your choices. But you, prudent reader, have checked with test prep experts, and we will make the answer as simple as possible: take the test that you feel most comfortable preparing for—or both, if you’d like. Before you give the matter any more thought, however, make sure none of the MBA programs you’re looking at require the GMAT.

There are a few advantages to either exam. The GRE is a catchall test for graduate admissions, meaning if you aren’t 100% sure you want to continue on to business school but you want to explore graduate level options, it is definitely the test to take. This may also be the more useful exam if you’re applying to a dual degree program, such as an MBA/JD or MBA/MFA program. Also, since the test is used for such a wide range of programs, it’s generally agreed that the math is easier than the math on the GMAT. The GRE also lacks the “integrated reasoning” section featured on the GMAT, which, if you aren’t super skilled at assessing data from charts and graphs quickly, can be a challenge, especially since there’s no partial credit. Oh, and also, the GRE is a little cheaper.

The GMAT, on the other hand, is still more familiar to business schools (and, in some cases may still be the only exam they accept); since the test is specifically for business school admissions, it also may better showcase your skills as a competent potential manager (that “integrated reasoning” must count for something, right?). While the GMAT does have a verbal section that includes reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction questions, these questions are meant to test your practical skills as they would be applicable to the business world, whereas the GRE, seeing as how it is also the exam for people applying for graduate programs in the humanities, expects you to know words like “abstemious” and “opprobrium.” Simply put, if you hated the sentence completion portion of the SAT, the GRE is probably not for you.

If you still aren’t sure, check out both tests. The ETS website offers a free practice GRE, while, GMAC’s official website for the GMAT exam, offers sample questions of each of the different question types. Both companies also have their own conversion tools to help you compare scores between the different tests, but the ETS’s tool is the more commonly used of the two. Whichever exam you choose, remember, preparation is key!

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