What is the Difference Between the GRE and the GMAT?

While most students are familiar with the standard run of aptitude tests required for undergraduate admission, those considering a graduate degree may wonder about the difference between the GRE and the GMAT.

You’ll need to sign up for and complete one of these in order to be considered for a graduate program. However, knowing which will serve your goals best, if a program preference isn’t specified, is important.

Below, we’ll explore both tests and compare them, so you can make an educated decision.

Graduate Records Examination

The GRE is applicable for most majors and fields, and it’s often the test that most universities require for consideration of admittance to a program of graduate level study. If you elect to take this test, you’ll be assessed in four main areas:

• Analytical
• Qualitative
• Verbal Reasoning
• Critical Thinking

While the test can be taken in paper form, it’s usually given via computer station at a testing center on a predetermined date. What most students don’t know is that you can also elect to take one or more GRE subject tests, which can add clout to your admission application.

• Psychology
• Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology
• Biology
• English Literature
• Math
• Physics
• Chemistry
• Computer Science

These are given in paper form and charged separately, so it’s advised that you know precisely which test you’ll need for your application. If a review board is seeking a specific, additional subject test score, they will usually state this in their requirements.

Graduate Management Admissions Test

This is another test that graduate students seeking programs in the fields of medicine, law, and other specialized fields are usually asked to take. It differs slightly from the standard GRE in some ways. You’ll be tested in four sections:

• Quantitative
• Verbal
• Analytical Writing
• Integrative Thinking

While these are similar domains to the sections of the GRE, the major difference is in the last. It requires you to draw together disparate subject materials and symbolic systems of logic and come to a conclusion. Critical thinking, while similar, is of a slightly different nature.

Following the conclusion of the test, you’ll receive five scores—one for each segment and an overall score. As well, you’ll be given percentile rankings, allowing you to see where you stand in comparison with those who have taken the test for the past three years. This is similar to the testing rubric followed by the GRE administrators.

Similarities and Differences

Both test scores will be valid for five years, so the student need not immediately apply to graduate programs. While they both take about three and a half hours, the GRE will often have a surprise section, which can be either mathematical or verbal. As well, while the GMAT is only offered as a computer adaptive test, the GRE can be taken on paper, which is the predominant form outside the United States.

There’s also a difference in the ways your test will be scored. Many business schools may require the GMAT, but the GRE testing scale is most often used for analysis in other programs. For the GRE, verbal and quantitative sections are scored in one-point increments within a range of 130-170. The GMAT is scored overall, in ten-point increments, with a range of 200-800 points.

While there are many moving parts to manage when applying to a graduate school, each one is important. It’s critical to know which test your program favors as a means to assessing your qualifications. Knowing the difference between the GRE and the GMAT can save you time, trouble, and money.

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