GMAT Impact: Should I Take the GMAT or the GRE?

When it comes to the GMAT, raw intellectual horsepower helps, but it is not everything. In this weekly blog series, Manhattan GMAT’s Stacey Koprince teaches you how to perform at your best on test day by using some common sense.

Many business schools, including Stanford, Harvard, and Wharton, accept either the GMAT or the GRE. Which test should you take?

The main thing to determine is this: would you have a significant scoring advantage on one test versus the other?

The general consensus is that GRE math is easier than GMAT math. If math is a weakness for you, then put a “plus” in the GRE column. Further, in June of 2012, the GMAT will add a new section called Integrated Reasoning. This section will combine math and logic—yet another reason to take the GRE instead if quant is your weaker area.

Both tests are generally similar in verbal difficulty, but they emphasize different skills. Both test reading comprehension and logical reasoning about equally. For the remaining test questions, the GMAT emphasizes grammar while the GRE emphasizes vocabulary. Which is more of a strength for you?

Here’s how you can tell for sure: take a practice GMAT and a practice GRE. Most companies allow people to sign up for one free test. Make sure that you take each test under 100% official conditions (including the essays—you probably don’t care much about the essay scores, but the essays come first, so skipping them can give your multiple choice score an artificial boost). Also, take the two tests several days apart; don’t give yourself an artificial handicap on one by taking it later in the same day you took the other.

When you’re done, check your percentiles. (You can’t compare the scaled scores against each other because the two tests use different scoring scales.) If there’s a significant difference in your starting percentile ranking, then you know which test to choose! If not, then take a look at the results in more detail. If your quant is generally stronger, or if you’re good at grammar, then you may want to choose the GMAT. If your quant is generally weaker, or if you’re good at vocabulary, then you may want to choose the GRE.

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