GMAT vs. GRE for MBA admissions – don’t play their game

Tyler York
GRE Snacks podcast logo

In this podcast with Charles Bibilos, CEO and GMAT / GRE tutor at GMAT Ninja, he explains that the universities are rewarded for being more selective with GMAT scores because it improves their rankings in things like the US News list. Don’t play their game – the GRE is not part of MBA rankings, which means that you can get into the same schools with less competitive scores. Charles and Tyler discuss this and other aspects of GRE vs. GMAT for MBA admissions in this podcast.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive course to maximize your score on the GRE exam, try Achievable’s GRE course for free to see if our style is right for you.

Full GMAT vs. GRE for MBA admissions – don’t play their game video transcript:

Welcome to GRE snacks. Snackin. What episodes of GRE exam in graduate school admissions? I'm Tyler. Found an online affordable $199 GRE course includes everything you need to ace your GRE: full textbook. Tons of GRE questions back by memory-enhancing. Algorithm, plus full length practice exam. And if you like it, the code podcast gets you 10% off at checkout. Now, let's get started today. We've got Charles biblio on the show, again, Charles you want to just quickly introduce yourself.

Sure, but it's Charles are going to small children company called gmatninja, which maybe isn't the best name for a since we also to GRE executive assessment and LSAT. But it actually teaching Jerry since 2001, I started doing Jerry and then added GMAT soon after that and got about $70 now. And all we really do is just one-on-one tutoring for people that are are struggling, and not really sure are a great deal. Today, we're going to talk about G or E and its role in admissions, particularly with mbas, right? It's, I think it when we were talking before the call and I you had a little bit of backstory around sort of like how people respond to the GMAT scores and then the arms race, it evolved out of that and then kind of where the GRE sits in that Universe today. So I thought those are interesting. If you want to come and kick it off,

Yeah. So back in the day that you might be the only game in town if you want apply for an MBA whether it was an elite NBA or not to Elite NBA and my son. So I'm going to believe and watching watching her students. Take these tests over the years, you know, 20 plus years now watching to go through Admissions. And I'm really convinced that human beings, no matter what they might say. In admissions offices, just respond to round numbers. That's human nature. So when we think about the GMAT and it's on a scale from Skynyrd, 804 composite score. 500, average. 800 is perfect. And what I've, but I've seen for decades now, is the psychology of. Yeah. Okay. Well, there's two it around numbers between 500-800. 600 must be you're dividing line between, okay? And good. 700 must be a dividing line between good and great. So we saw historically was okay with it, but an applicant Gotta Buy, the $700, checks the Box, their admissions decisions, even if the top top MBA programs were going to be

And everything else. At that point you get a 700 check the box. That was a conventional wisdom. Absolutely. What we saw for a very very long time and it be a bit since then you kind of fast forward to about 15 years ago in the rankings, her to be a really really big deal on NBA missions. They were there before that, but they they became an obsession. I said that scores were part of these rankings that you saw school start to gave me averages and start to push students except students of higher scores. Even if they weren't the best candidates start playing that game and it became a little bit of an arms race. And in the last two years you've had some of the top programs with Jerry averages in the mid 730s which is an obscenely high score. That is a really, really test score for most people to get there around the same time. You have to sit this arms race happen to see Mets scores. Along comes to GRE and they make a big push to be accepted by a program.

And what a fun really interesting is it around that time to GRE Henry scaled. So now the GRE is probably ridiculous thing knows, is on a scale from 1:30 to 17032 section. So 150 and averaged roughly 17 is perfect. Now, there's only one number that divides good from great, that's 160. So, at the time for 13 years ago, my conjecture was okay. So it's cool start to accept the GRE but I think we're going to see is that if you can cross 160 for the most part schools are going to say, yeah? Right. You check the box. We don't understand. Really the difference between 161 and 163. What are those two points? Tell us about this applicant and how they're going to drive and maybe a program.

So it's we started getting date on it 3 or 4 years ago. School started releasing more data on average GRE scores and what we started out of the top 15 or 20 in the country is almost exceptions to the top 10 or 15 or 20. Their average is on quite a suburb on the GRE were right around that 160 Mark and more recently had a conversation with admissions at University of Michigan School of Business. And I brought this up in the context of a broader panel discussion and said, yeah. But we typically tell her applicants were trying to decide between the GMAT and GRE is if you're really starting to get that GMAT score, that's competitive the school you replying to you, might have an easier time getting that 160 mark on both sexes. The GRE 16160 on the GRE is much easier to get them 7:30 on the GMAT, right? So if that's the case for you, if you can crack that 160 Mark, you reset psychological threshold and you might have a shot to plan the rest of your profile for schools to say. Yeah, that sucks the box and we're going to

Other things. And I said that the presence of the business director Ross and she said, you know, I've never thought of it that way but our averages are right around 164, bow section. And I think you're right. We're doing that subconsciously, which I think is a couple of things to unpack. I mean, first, these that I definitely agree with you. I am very much seem like this is the round numbers thing in my experience, but I am, I went to a boarding school that for high school that had like, really real bus, like, data on College admissions. They had like every student, whether it was like a chart on one access was the was the GPA in the school and the other access for the SAT score. And then whether they were wait-listed admitted or or reject, as eye color different color. They just give you the full chart and everything goes, every single College. You just look. And you can see the cut-offs in the data like you just so you can just see it right there.

Again, it was never like, you know, of a 3.76 GPA, right? It was like a 3.7 or 3.6 or 3.5. And so they're reaching around of the thresholds were really important for that. Also driving that data said, made it. So that it was really easy to figure out what schools are going to get into cuz usually you can't change your GPA if I have 20 and schools will tell you. This is people tell you to any level ever graduate graduate doesn't matter. They're going to stay until the blue in the face. We don't use cut-offs. We don't use for fresh holds and I believe them, very, very few schools. There are supposed to do that, but it's not that they're, they're deliberately oversimplifying and saying we're not going to let you in. If you have 169 on the GRE Quant it's a psychological in a lot of cases that that's what happens or going to be outliers. You that we seen people with you know scores in the low 150s on both Gary sections get into business.

But there is a reason amazing applicants. You know we've seen Kenneth with 16160 get rejected so there's always outliers but I think those those round numbers those thresholds whether we mean to or not whether or not you just respond to him and we're going to have a different judgment least in the back of our head of a candidate with a pair of 159. Then if that same exact Canon, had a pair of 160, it's just human nature, right? Yeah. It's a really, it's really interesting thing and it's the same reason why that people make and things in like a 99-cent. Cuz even though, you know, 299 is basically $3, you're literally like your purchase made four changes dramatically at the threshold between 299 free, right thing that you are in class. I think it's the other part of this that I want to unpack a little bit. Is that is something that we talked about in some of our blog posted on our website is that did the threshold for checking the Box.

With your GRE score for MBA programs seems to be quite a bit easier than the GMAT equivalent of what we found is in the top accessories, like the top 15 Business Schools the difference in percentile with 8% which is pretty massive and so just explain that to the viewers or the quicker listening, it's not a century. If your 90th percentile, that means you're, you are at 90% out of a hundred people for, like, how good you are. Like, you're in the top 10% or you can say, you're better than 90% of people do to a difference of 8%. Could you for? Like, I think it was Harvard Business School. The difference was basically, you know, 97 vs like 94, right before were different. But it was, you know, instead of having to be in the top 3% of the GRE GMAT score is accusing, you have to be in the top 7%.

Siri scores, that's giving you twice as much room as specially. When you consider the fact that the closer you get to the top of the harder it gets because you're you're competing against against basically a perfect scores at that point.

And I think that differences even greater than those percentile numbers suggest Tyler and the reason is that you have fundamentally different testing tools. So if so overwhelming majority of its own on specific Rodger per gram price, unless you're applying for medical degree or a law degree business degree you can you take the GRE testing pool and there's people out there that have no reason. For example, I can if you're you're applying for an MFA in creative writing new because Patrick wants were going to say that hard for it, University might require you to take one section, really matters for you, right up with this phenomenon, the GRE we're even if you at the same percentile. So 90% Helen Kwon on the GMAT vs. 90% Helen Kwon on the GRE it is much. Much easier to hit the ninetieth percentile on quiet on the GRE because it's different tests to begin with. But it's all very, very, very different testing pool.

Sony look at those averages for GMAT at Harvard where it's at Harvard Business School where it's summer in April at 7:30, that's a tough score to get. You got to be really, really good herbal no, careless errors, great time management. Got to be pretty fast reader to get one sixties and I think Harvard average is a little higher than that 64. Something like that at 1:57. Exactly. Last time I checked and honestly, that's an easier Square to get going to 7:30 on the GMAT. And if she started kind of work your way down the food chain, a little bit to get to a place, like University of Michigan Ross, which is one of my favorite business goals ever. I know who went there, loved it. I think they do an amazing job there and around 16160 but there be marriages or low. 704, most people crossing That 160 Barragan, go s on the GRE is so much easier than hitting at 7 or 7:20 on the GMAT.

But we typically say to be applicants is look, if you can crush the GMAT and go get a 747 60, go do it. Because there is still this Mystique GMAT and I think that when Business Schools, see those mid 700c Mass course they love it. It improves your odds without a doubt you're helping the rankings out Jerry isn't part or is it a major part of Germany Geo? Metro many MBA ranking systems yet, so he can't get to that house. So Haley, GMAT score. You're probably going to save yourself a lot more, a lot of time and Pain by doing the GRE instead. So that's like the last piece of this puzzle is, is the ranking scores, right? Which the schools are trying their best to gain. And if you are participating in the GMAT, you are part of the game, right? So that can work to your advantage if you're better at it than most people. But if you're like, you know, Jordy of the world, then it

Actually place in to your disadvantage because they're essentially incentivised to behave a certain way regarding GMAT scores and that incentive doesn't exist for GRE scores. Exactly. And what you see that I think is wonderful, a wonderful trending in missions. And I realize that it's bad for a big chunk of my own business and not, that's fine. I think it's right thing for schools to do to say, look, we're interested in finding out, are you prepared, academically to handle graduate-level business courses? And once upon a time, it was just at your GPA. And now Business Schools are saying, we'll take the GRE will take the executive assessment, which is basically just a shortened version of the GMAT this little bit less scary. Just as hard as you're sure. It's 90 minutes long. You can you can apply to most schools with an LSAT score in SAT score. Someone will take the MCAT plenty of schools especially when she get out of the top 15. NBA programs will go test. Awful to give you a waiver for letra.

By without it now to see if we can make background that test work and you need that test Court, you need to show that your quants kills your verbal skills are strong enough. But look, if you got a 39 from an amazing major and you're interested apply to a school that that allows you to fly without the test. Maybe you can skip the pain and I think it's a wonderful 10. The schools are going to look at you more holistically. Now I need to give you all sorts of different options and I and I think it's a great thing. And one of the other things that I've been here for emissions Raptors in the NBA world, is it their internal data is saying that those two applicants who might have an average 16 jumbo section, which I can sit here and say it's a test prep guy easier to get 160 sunbow Theory sections, then to get a 7:00, 7:30 on the GMAT. What the date is hurting a show from internal data from schools. Is that? Yeah, those students that went in and crushed the team at hardness really doing better and business school in the GRE applicants.

I mean it turns out that you know, standardized test scores, don't directly correlate to academic performance and one for another episode of those two tests, to take like the correlation is weak. When you just look at GMAT scores, and how they correlate to your grade point average in your first day of an MBA program. But it doesn't seem to matter what you take the GRE or the GMAT. And I am not shocked by it at all, and I find it fascinating that we have this, you know, decades-long fetish for the team at it was probably been this place to begin with and we probably should have been given a bigger variety of ways to get themselves into business school.

Yeah, totally agree. Well, thanks. This is Van GRE snacks hosted by Tyler. From achievable. You can check out our GRE course for free at Use the code podcast to get 10% off at checkout. And thank you, Charles from G Magnesia for joining us today.
Achievable GRE - $199
Achievable's GRE course includes endless quantitative quizzes, 10 verbal reasoning practice exams, 1,500 vocabulary flashcards, and our easy-to-understand online textbook with proven strategies to hit your target score.
View GRE prep course
Desktop and mobile screenshots of Achievable GRE
All rights reserved ©2016 - 2023 Achievable, Inc.