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The basics
THE USA: Applying to University - Must read

GRE vs. GMAT: Which should you take?

Can’t decide whether you should take the GRE or the GMAT for admission to graduate studies in America? Read our comparison of the GRE and GMAT to find the best exam for you...

GRE vs GMAT comparison

GRE or GMAT? If you’re planning to study at (post) graduate level in the States, then you need to consider this question. These are the most popular tests as part of grad school admissions. Ultimately you should check which test the institution you are applying to accepts, or which they would prefer you take.


But if an institution accepts both, which should you choose?


Which has the better test structure?


1 x 75 min Analytic section of 2 essays

2 x 30 min Verbal sections

2 x 35 min Quantitative sections

Aprox. total length: 3 ¾ hours



1 x 30 min Analytic section with one essay

1 x 30 min Integrated Reasoning section

1 x 75 min Quantitative section

1 x 75 min Verbal section

Approx. total length: 3 ½ hours



Which is most popular?

Around 655,000 students take the GRE each year compared to 250,000 who take the GMAT in the same period.



What are the origins and aims of each test?

Originally the GMAT was created to judge applicants to Business Schools in the States. However in the last few years, Business Schools have begun to accept the GRE too. However you should always check with that Business School as to what they accept – remember, the GMAT will always be accepted so this is a safe choice to go with.



Which costs more?

The GRE costs just $195 compared to the GMAT’s $250. However these costs are the test alone and do not include additional services such as additional reports and retake fees – you should always check these.


Watch the following clip from our Google Hangout with an international student in America, 'What admissions test do I take for graduate study?':


How can you take each test?

The GMAT is only available in computerised form, whereas the GRE can be taken on paper too (however this option is only available a few times a year).



What does each test emphasise?

Each test plays to different strengths so if you can choose, you can go with the test which you have more of a chance of succeeding in.

The GRE emphasises vocabulary while the GMAT emphasises grammar. As far as the maths sections are concerned, the GMAT test is considered harder. One of the reasons for this might be because you can’t use a calculator in the GMAT but you can in the GRE.

Remember you can also take additional subject tests for the GRE, choosing from one of 7 subjects if you want to strengthen your application to study a specific field.



How are the tests scored?

GRE test-takers receive 3 scores, one for each section of the test. GMAT test-takers receive 5 scores, one for each section, plus an overall score (you’ll also receive a percentile score so you can compare yourself to test-takers in the last 3 years).

For the GRE, Verbal and Quantitative scores range from 130-170 in 1-point increments. Meanwhile the overall GMAT score range from 200-800 in 10-point increments.


Now you have a better idea of which admissions test you should take, start looking for that perfect (post)graduate course in America



Read more:

Need more advice about which tests you need to take to study in America? Try our guide, 'Which test do I take to study in the US?'

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