MUST HAVE 15 GMAT full-length tests with video explanations, rigorous analytics, 200+ conceptual videos, and a set of 12 sentence correction e-books. $50!

INQUIRE
INQUIRE

GMAT vs. GRE: Which to Take? Which is Easier? What is the Difference?

GMAT vs. GRE: Which to Take? Which is Easier? What is the Difference?

All grad and business school applicants are required to take either GMAT or GRE to be considered eligible for applying to their desired programs. Traditionally, candidates opting for a graduate program in core disciplines used to strictly take the GRE, while candidates opting for management programs used to strictly take the GMAT. It was only in 2011, when GRE underwent a major overhaul in format, in terms of types of questions, number of questions, and scoring pattern, and came to be widely recognized by major B-schools that the confusion on GMAT or GRE – Which Test to Take? became most pertinent. However, prior to determining an answer to this significant question, let us take a look at the features that may render the GMAT and GRE tests distinct from or similar to each other.

Specifics GMAT GRE
Mode Computer-based Computer-based and Paper-based
Duration 3 hours 7 minutes Computer-based: 3 hours 45 minutes; Paper-based: 3 hours 30 minutes
Sections Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
Fee USD 250 USD 205
Score-Range 200 – 800 260 – 340
Tests Taken in 2018 ~ 243000 ~ 560000

GMAT and GRE: Which is Easier?

About GMAT

GMAT, or the Graduate Management Admission Test, is traditionally conducted by GMAC, or Graduate Management Admission Council. A computer adaptive test to analyze the test taker’s critical reasoning and analytical skills, GMAT was founded on 6th February 1953, by 9 leading business schools, as the Admission Test for Graduate Study in Business. Since then, GMAT has been consistently and extensively used as a determining assessment for conducting MBA admissions.

The GMAT Exam Pattern

GMAT consists of 4 distinct sections that test individual skills:

  1. Analytical Writing Assessment – Tests proficiency in thinking critically and representing ideas.
  2. Integrated Reasoning – Tests deftness in analyzing data presented in multiple formats.
  3. Quantitative Reasoning – Tests adeptness in utilizing reasoning skills to evaluate information.
  4. Verbal Reasoning – Tests ability in comprehending written information and conforming to the standard written English norms.

Test Section Number of Questions Type of Questions Time Score Range
Analytical Reasoning Assessment (AWA) 1 Analysis of an Argument 30 minutes 0 to 6
Integrated Reasoning 12 Graphic Interpretation, Table Analysis, Multi-source Reasoning, Two-part Analysis 30 minutes 1 to 8
Quantitative Reasoning 31 Data Sufficiency, Problem Solving 62 minutes 6 to 51
Verbal Reasoning 36 Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, Sentence Correction 65 minutes 6 to 51


Prior to 2017, candidates would have to follow a set pattern in answering each of the sections. However, the rule has been modified now and since 11th July 2017, the GMAT candidates are provided with an option to select the section they would like to answer at first. The options are, nonetheless, limited to three set patterns:

  1. AWA, Integrated Reasoning, (an optional break of 8 minutes), Quantitative Reasoning, (an optional break of 8 minutes), Verbal Reasoning.
  2. Verbal Reasoning, (an optional break of 8 minutes), Quantitative Reasoning, (an optional break of 8 minutes), Integrated Reasoning, AWA.
  3. Quantitative Reasoning, (an optional break of 8 minutes), Verbal Reasoning, (an optional break of 8 minutes), Integrated Reasoning, AWA.

To avoid confusion and to make the best use of this option of order, it is recommended that a candidate aptly analyzes his/her strengths. For instance, if candidate A is confident of his/her quantitative reasoning skills but needs full energy and focus to answer the verbal reasoning section, he/she may opt for pattern 2. Similarly, if candidate B is confident of his/her verbal reasoning skills, he/she may opt for pattern 1. To better ascertain one’s competency in the section, a candidate must opt for a free GMAT mock test.

Scoring

GMAT is a computer-adaptive test. Each of the questions on GMAT is categorized under varying levels of difficulty. The candidate is presented with the questions, one at a time, and with each correct response, the level of difficulty increases. Thus, on GMAT,

  • If a response is incorrect, the following question will be of a lower difficulty level.
  • The difficulty level of the questions correctly answered determines the final score of the candidate. The correct responses to difficult questions will result in higher scores while correct responses to less difficult questions will result in lower scores.
  • A score of 710 and a score in the range of 760-800 ensures the 90th and 99th percentile respectively.
  • The scores obtained on the AWA and Integrated Reasoning sections do not contribute to the total GMAT score.
  • While there is no negative marking for incorrect responses, heavy penalty is levied on unanswered questions.

The following table explains how each of the sections is scored on GMAT:

Test Section Increment on Score Range Scoring the Section
AWA 0 to 6 (in 0.5 increments) The answer is scored twice. The average of the two scores provides the score of the section.
Integrated Reasoning 1 to 8 ( in 1 increments) Scoring is determined by the number of questions answered correctly. If a question has multiple parts to be answered, each part muct be correctly answered for the response to the question to be considered as correct.
Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning 6 to 51 ( in 1 increments) As these sections are item-level adaptive, scoring is determined basis the total number of questions attempted, the level of difficulty of each question, and the total number of questions correctly answered.

 
About GRE

GRE, or the Graduate Record Examination, is conducted by the ETS, or the Educational Testing Service. Founded in 1936 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, GRE is a standardized assessment test that helps to analyze the test taker’s analytical writing and verbal and critical reasoning skills. Since its inception, GRE has undergone several important changes, unlike GMAT, in exam pattern and scoring format. For instance, until 2002, candidates were scored out of a total of 2400 in GRE; in the next revision, candidates were scored out of a total of 1600. In 2011, the exam pattern was again revised and candidates were provided with individual scores on the two pertinent sections, verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning. GRE is mainly opted for by candidates aspiring to gradd programs in core disciplines. Further, in GRE candidates are now being scored on a range of 130-170 in each of these sections.

The GRE Exam Pattern

The GRE consists of 3 distinct sections that test individual skills:

  1. Analytical Writing Assessment – This section tests the candidate’s proficiency in critically evaluating information and coherently communicating their perspectives on the same while keeping to the standard written English norms.
  2. Verbal Reasoning – This section tests the candidate’s ability to comprehend information, determine how the specific parts of the sentence relate to one another, and identify the differences between concepts and words and their relationship to one another.
  3. Quantitative Reasoning – This section tests the candidate’s competency to apply basic mathematical concepts to analyze information and interpret data.

Start preparing for GRE with our competent GRE prep program.

The following table explains the structure of the Computer-based GRE exam

Test Sections Number of Questions Type of Questions Time Score Range
Analytical Writing Assessment 2 1 Analyse an Issue and 1 Analyse an Argument 30 minutes per question 0 to 6
Verbal Reasoning (2 sections) 20 questions per section Reading Comprehension, Test Completion, and Sentence Equivalence 30 minutes per question 130 to 170
Quantitative Reasoning (2 sections) 20 questions per section Quantitative Comparison, Numeric Entry, MCQs with option to select one answer choice and more than one answer choice 35 minutes per section 130 to 170

 
The following table explains the structure of the Paper-based GRE exam

Test Sections Number of Questions Type of Questions Time Score Range
Analytical Writing Assessment 2 1 Analyse an Issue and 1 Analyse an Argument 30 minutes per question 0 to 6
Verbal Reasoning (2 sections) 25 questions per section Reading Comprehension, Test Completion, and Sentence Equivalence 35 minutes per section 130 to 170
Quantitative Reasoning ( 2 sections) 25 questions per section Quantitative Comparison, Numeric Entry, MCQs with option to select one answer choice and more than one answer choice 40 minutes per section 130 to 170

 
GRE allows students to take the paper-based exam in locations where the computer-based test cannot be administered. Although, the pattern and question type remains unaffected by the mode of exam, the duration of each mode differs:

  • The paper-based exam consists of 6 sections and the students are granted a 10-minute break after the second section; the total estimated time for GRE paper-based exam is 3 hours 30 minutes.
  • The computer-based exam consists of 6 sections and the students are granted a 10-minute break after the third section; the total estimated time for GRE computer-based exam is 3 hours 45 minutes.

Further, GRE, unlike GMAT, allows the student to mark a question as review, a feature that allows the student to come back to the question and confirm his/her response on the same. For a better understanding of the GRE exam pattern, one must refer to a relevant GRE guidance program.

Scoring on GRE

Unlike GMAT, GRE is a section adaptive test. In GRE, the difficulty level of questions does not depend on the response to the previous question; instead the difficulty level of the questions in the second section for both Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning depends on the performance in the first section. Thus, candidates, who are able to perform well in the first section, answer more difficult questions in the second section and are accordingly graded. It is recommended that a candidate only opts for authentic GRE study resources to be able to acquire competitive scores on GRE.

GRE follows an intrinsic grading system:

  • The Analytical Writing section –
  • Computer-based Tests –

    • The section is graded individually by a human reader and an e-rater. If the grades provided by the two entities closely mirror each other, the average of the two scores translates as the final score on the section
    • However, if the grades appear to be incongruent, a second human reader grades the response and the average of the scores provided by the two human readers contribute to the final score on the section.

    Paper-based Tests –

    • Two human readers individually grade the responses on the section. If the individual scores are congruent, the average of both translates as the final score on the section.
    • If the two individual scores feature a disparity, a third human reader determines the gap in the score.
    • In this section, the responses are holistically reviewed and the ability of the candidate to critically think and analyze is tested. However, the score obtained in this section does not contribute to the total score obtained on GRE.
  • The Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning section –
    • The number of questions answered correctly generates a raw score that is converted to a scaled score to indicate the level of difficulty of each section. The scaled score helps to maintain consistency across all test sections.

Further, in GRE, the 90th percentile is determined by a score in the range of 161-162 in the Verbal section and 165-166 in the Quant section. Similarly, the 99th percentile is determined by a score in the range of 169-170 in the Verbal section and more than 170 in the Quant section.

The following table explains how each of the sections is scored on GRE:

Test Section Increment on Score Range Scoring the Section
Analytical Writing Assessment 0 to 6 (in 0.5 increments) The repsonses are holistically reviewed. For Computer-based tests, the responses are individualy graded by a human reader and a computerised e-rater; the average of both the results contribute to the final score. For Paper-based tests, the responses are individually graded by two human readders; the average of both the results contribute to the final score.
Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning 130 to 170 ( in 1 point increments) The number of questions answered correctly provides a raw score that is then converetd to a scaled score

 
Briefly, GMAT or GRE: Which is Easier?

  • The skills of no two candidates can be similar. Thus, determining if one test is easier than the other will call for the individual candidate’s ability to comfortably answer the sections.
  • A test may be perceived as easy or difficult depending on the level of preparedness of the candidate. GMAT and GRE, both, attempt to assess similar skills of a candidate and while preparing for one test may help in the preparation for the other, it cannot be enough.
  • Such differences in feature as options to review, use calculator, and take either the computer-based or the paper-based test may also cause a candidate to perceive a particular test as easier than the other.
  • Given that the format of GMAT has mostly retained its structure, unlike GRE, it is comparatively easier to prepare for the test.
  • If we are to consider the competition and performance, it goes without saying that the 90th percentile on GMAT will definitely record a higher number than the 90th percentile on GRE, when the GRE score is converted to GMAT score.
  • Nonetheless, a candidate solely targeting MBA programs should be aware that the B-schools use a GRE to GMAT conversion tool to conduct objective screening of profiles.

GMAT and GRE: What is the Difference?

 
GMAT and GRE: The Format

Both GMAT and GRE seem to follow the same format of testing individual skills. However, the tests significantly differ in the number and type of questions. Thus, while GMAT and GRE both test the analytical writing skills, GRE invests almost an hour to determine the analytical skills through two different forms of content and GMAT invests only half an hour to test the same skill through a given form of content. Further, GMAT distinctly tests the candidate’s ability to analyze and interpret data. GRE employs two elaborate sections to analyze the candidate’s vocabulary usage, reading comprehension skills, and problem-solving efficiency, an analysis effectively conducted by GMAT in only 65 minutes.

GMAT and GRE: The Syllabus

The quantitative and verbal reasoning sections on both GMAT and GRE necessitate an acquaintance with several standard concepts in the domain of mathematics and English language. For instance, to be able to answer the GMAT and GRE quantitative and verbal sections, the candidate must be acquainted with the following respective concepts:

The following table outlines the broad concepts tested in GMAT and GRE Verbal Reasoning section:

GMAT GRE
Subject – Verb Agreement Subject – Verb Agreement
Parallelism Parallelism
Modifiers Modifiers
Pronouns Pronouns
Reading Comprehension Reading Comprehension
Idioms Idioms
Redundancy Sentence Structure

 
The following table outlines the broad concepts tested in GMAT and GRE Quantitative Reasoning section:

GMAT GRE
Arithmetic Simple and Compound Interest
Integration Quadratic Equations
Permutations and Combinations Permutations and Combinations
Geometry Co-ordinate Geometry
Ratio and Proportions Ratio and Proportions
Linear Equations Linear Equations
Algebra Statistics
Roots and Exponents Roots and Exponents
Probability
Lines and Angles
Polygon, Circles, Triangles, Quadrilaterals, Pipes, Cisterns, Work, Time,Volume and Surface Area
Order of Operations
Percentage
Profit and Loss
Sets Theory
Speed, Distance, and Time
Number Properties

 
There may be a significant overlap between the syllabus for both GMAT and GRE, but there is a significant deviation in how individual skills are tested. Reportedly, a candidate taking the GMAT is tested upon his/her ability to apply the concept and logical reasoning skills while a candidate taking the GRE is tested upon his/her memory and knowledge of the concept.

GMAT and GRE: Level of Difficulty

As such, it is generally believed that the GMAT quantitative section is more difficult than the GRE quantitative sections, while the GMAT verbal section is easier than the GRE verbal sections. It is also suggested that the GRE syllabus largely corresponds to that of the undergraduate syllabus; hence, a student with a fairly competent undergraduate score can, with little effort, comfortably ace the GRE. Further, in GRE, students are allowed to use a calculator for answering the quant section, unlike in GMAT.

Briefly, GMAT or GRE: What is the Difference?

For any candidate taking either the GMAT or GRE, it is important to note the following points

  • An elaborative test, GRE tests the candidate’s analytical skills, interpretation skills, and vocabulary usage in two distinct sections; while GMAT depends upon precise questions designed to analyze the same.
  • In GRE, the candidate’s memory and knowledge of concept is tested, while in GMAT, the candidate’s ability to critically think and apply concept is tested.
  • GMAT quant section consists of more high difficulty questions than the GRE quant section.
  • GMAT verbal section is easier than the GRE verbal section.
  • While a student, with a good undergraduate academic record, can easily take the GRE, he/she will have to take on rigorous GMAT prep classes.
  • Importantly, GRE allows the student to use calculators during the exam, unlike GMAT that only allows students to use an on-screen calculator for only the IR section.

B-Schools Prefer GMAT or GRE for MBA?

If the pattern of the tests is taken into consideration, it may be easily discerned that GMAT tests skill specific to the domain of management while GRE tends to be a generic aptitude test. According to a survey, conducted in 2016, ~90% of the Top USA and European B-schools confirmed their acceptance of GRE scores for conducting admission to MBA programs; however, 20% among them indicated their preference of GMAT over GRE for conducting admission to MBA programs.

Ideally, there is no clearly stated preference of GMAT over GRE by B-schools, but considering the fact that ~75% of the applicants to MBA programs apply with a GMAT, B-schools need to convert the GRE to GMAT to be able to objectively consider the individual profiles. For the same, ETS provides a GRE to GMAT conversion tool on its website.

GMAT or GRE: Which To Take?

Firstly, it is important that the candidate is able to confidently prepare for and triumph any of the exams that he/she decides to take. Thus, to ensure maximum productivity, the candidate may decide to opt for either a GMAT mock test or a GRE mock test, whereby he/she can analyze his/her area of weakness and strength and comfort in answering each of the sections. Basis the same, the candidate may arrive at a sound decision to take either GMAT or GRE. Additionally, in deciding upon the test, the candidate must also take into consideration the logistics of the exam, for instance, the availability of exam centre, sync of time with the individual schedule, cost of the exam, and test re-taking possibilities.

Secondly, even if the B-schools do not state their preference for GMAT over GRE scores, it is advisable to opt for GMAT as the score conversion mechanism often widens the disparity in percentage score between GMAT and GRE. A GRE score of 325, a 95% score, may seem to be an excellent score. However, the same score will read 670, when converted to GMAT, a score that not only figures as 83% score but also falls below the average GMAT score requirement by the top-25 B-schools.

School Average GMAT Score
Stanford 708
Harvard 730
INSEAD 700
Wharton 732
CEIBS 685
LBS 707
Chicago Booth 738
MIT: Sloan 730
Columbia Business School 732
Berkeley: Haas 726
Yale 724
IESE 690
Oxford: Said 690
Northwestern University 732
Dartmouth 722
Cambridge: Judge 696
NUS 662
HKUST 680
HEC Paris 690
Duke: Fuqua 704
Esade 660
IMD 670
Darden 718
ISB 709
NYU: Stern 716

 
Importantly, prior to deciding upon the test to be taken, the candidate must decide upon the program he/she wishes to pursue. If the candidate aspires to core management discipline, he/she must opt for GRE. However, if the candidate wishes to pursue an MBA, he/she must take the GMAT. GMAT for MBA is truly the most standardized test available – it helps re-invigorate the candidate’s ability to critically reason and logically solve given problems, skills that are a must in any MBA candidate.

Lastly, it is always recommended that a candidate seek the guidance of expert GMAT or GRE prep consultants to ensure taking an informed decision in this regard.

All the best!

Covered by…