The GRE is accepted almost everywhere and is rapidly gaining popularityFirst, the GRE is no longer a second-tier test in the eyes of business schools. Every one of the top 15 business schools now accepts the GRE as a component of their applications. And if a business school accepts either test, it must treat them as functionally equivalent because anything that a university shares publicly about itself in its own literature is legally binding. In fact, not only is the GRE now on equal footing with the GMAT with respect to admissions criteria, but it is rapidly dominating the market. According to U.S. News & World Report, less than half of admitted applicants to top business schools submitted a GMAT score in 2018. Furthermore, the GMAT is only accepted by business schools, while the GRE is accepted by business schools and almost every other kind of graduate program in America. This is an important consideration if you’re either (a) interested in applying to a joint-degree program (i.e., MBA/MPP, MBA/MFA, etc.), or (b) interested in enrolling not in the immediate future, but further down the road. Since test scores are valid for five years, many students sit for a graduate entry exam right out of undergrad, while they’re still used to standardized testing. Taking the GRE gives you optionality if your focus changes in the years ahead.
The GRE is easier, both overall and especially in the math sectionSecond are the tactical advantages of taking the GRE. I have worked in the test prep industry for sixteen years and taught every standardized test under the sun. Simply put, I think the GRE is easier than the GMAT. This is not to say that the GRE is a walk in the park (it isn’t). However, the GMAT more frequently requires the use of logical reasoning – on both sections of the test – in addition to knowledge of the relevant quantitative and qualitative material. Therefore, preparation for the GMAT requires both extensive studying of the testable content and practicing how to manipulate that content using the rules of formal logic. The GMAT’s verbal section contains many more critical reasoning problems than does the GRE’s verbal section. In fact, only approximately 6% of all GRE verbal problems have a logic component. Additionally, half of the GMAT’s quantitative section is comprised of logic-heavy data sufficiency problems, widely considered to be the most challenging question type on the entire test. On the other hand, less than 1% of the GRE’s quantitative section is constituted by data sufficiency problems. Odds are, you won’t even see one such problem on the day of the test. So unless you’re one of the lucky few who seem to be wired for this kind of thinking, why subject yourself to an additional (and unnecessary) difficulty? The truth is that the test is hard enough as it is.
GMAT vs. GRE median scores and percentilesNow for the kicker. The following is a table listing the top 15 business schools as ranked by U.S. News & World Report for the most recent year available (2020). I pulled the Median scores directly from the institutions’ own websites.
|University||College||GMAT or GRE?||Median Score – GMAT||
Median Score – GRE
|University of Pennsylvania||Wharton||Both||732||324|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Sloan||Both||730||326|
|University of Chicago||Booth||Both||730||326|
|University of California – Berkeley||Haas||Both||725||323|
|University of Michigan – Ann Arbor||Ross||Both||719||324|
|New York University||Stern||Both||720||324|
|University of Virginia||Darden||Both||713||321|
|University||College||GMAT or GRE?||Percentile – GMAT||
Percentile – GRE
|University of Pennsylvania||Wharton||Both||96%||85%|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Sloan||Both||96%||88%|
|University of Chicago||Booth||Both||96%||88%|
|University of California – Berkeley||Haas||Both||96%||84%|
|University of Michigan – Ann Arbor||Ross||Both||94%||85%|
|New York University||Stern||Both||94%||85%|
|University of Virginia||Darden||Both||92%||81%|
Conclusion: The GRE is accepted almost everywhere, tests easier material, and increases your competitiveness for top business schoolsSo there you have it. The GRE doesn’t just give you more options in grad school admissions (without any meaningful exclusions) – it also affords you higher chances of success by testing less-challenging material and offering a lower threshold of competitiveness to get into top programs. I hope this explanation was helpful!
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Thanks for reading!
Last modified: August 1, 2020