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GRE vs. GMAT – Things You Must Know Before Taking the Test

If studying abroad is on your card, you must know about two standardised tests used for assessing your readiness for a particular program: the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT).

The GMAT test assesses the abilities of students, particularly those seeking admission to a graduate management program. In contrast, the GRE tests the skills and knowledge of prospective students striving to enrol in a graduate program in a variety of fields, including law, business, and engineering.

Although both tests will assess your verbal and quantitative reasoning, the GMAT focuses more on problem-solving and analytical skills, while the GRE emphasises vocabulary. Before we discuss both exams in detail, here’s a quick highlight of the key differences.

GRE vs. GMAT - Key Differences

Designed to Test

Problem solving, critical thinking, and decision-making abilities to succeed in a business environment

Verbal knowledge and quantitative content necessary to succeed in graduate programs

Average Scores (general)*

Top 10%: 715; Median: 546.01

Top 10%: V-162, Q-167; Median: V-151, Q-153


Question-Level Adaptive (the difficulty level increases based on your answer to the previous question)

Section-Level Adaptive (The difficulty level of the sections increases based on your performance in the  first section)




Mode of the Test

Computer adaptive test

Computer adaptive test

(Paper-based exam is available in selective locations)

Verbal Questions

Emphasis on grammar

Emphasis on vocabulary

Math Questions

Comparatively harder –


· Data sufficiency

· Problem solving

Integrated Reasoning:

· Multi-source reasoning

· Graphics interpretation

· Two-part analysis

· Table analysis

 You can use an onscreen calculator only for Data Insights

Easier than GMAT –

· Arithmetic

· Algebra

· Geometry

· Data analysis

 You can use an onscreen calculator.

Who Takes the Exam?

Individuals looking to go to a B-school

Anyone wanting to pursue a master's or PhD or attend a management/law school

Score Validity

5 years

5 years

*Average scores are the general average scores across all GMAT and GRE takers, not for a particular MBA course.

GMAT and GRE – Similarities

The GMAT and GRE also have a few things in common, such as:

  • Both involve high school-level arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis problems
  • Both emphasise reading comprehension.
  • Essay writing is important for both (1 on both the GRE and the GMAT)

What is the GRE?

The Graduate Record Examination or GRE is a multi-choice standardised test conducted by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) that helps aspirants pursue graduate programs in diverse subjects, including business and law. The test will assess your verbal and quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills. The GRE can be taken up to five times in a rolling period of twelve months. In case you take the test more than once, you can choose which score you want to use for the admission formalities.

According to the official website of ETS, 300,000 students take the GRE, and their success rate is 5-8%. As per the report 2023, 53% of males and 47% of females take the GRE exam.

Group No. of Students Percent
Total 319,101 100
Men 168,452 53
Women 150,098 46
No Response/New 551 <1


GRE Exam

  • The average GRE scores for 2023 were close to 151 for verbal reasoning and 158 for quantitative reasoning. The Average GRE scores varied by the study field and section.
  • The average GRE scores in 2022-2023 were about 151 (151.3) for verbal reasoning and 157 for quantitative reasoning.
  • The average analytical writing score was 3.4. Note: This section is not included in the total score.
  • The total number of GRE test-takers saw a significant dip, from 700,000 in 2011 to 342,000 in 2022.
  • Average GRE scores differ by field of study or specific program.
  • A few highly selective law courses require GRE scores of 159-170.
  • The average GRE scores of students admitted to MBA programs is between 161 and 167.

GRE Format

The GRE consists of three portions: the analytical writing section is the first section, while the order of the remaining sections, including the unscored, remains unknown.

  • Analytical Writing:There are two writing tasks, 30 minutes each, in which you construct your argument on a specific issue and evaluate someone else's argument. The entire section is scored from zero to six in half-point increments.
  • Verbal Reasoning:This section also contains two 30-minute tasks with 20 questions each. The questions will be based on reading comprehension, text completion, and sentence equivalence. The scoring will be done between 130 and 170 in one-point increments.
  • Quantitative Reasoning:The quant section tests your basic mathematical skills through two 35-minute sections with 20 questions each. Questions are usually multiple choices with one or more answers, numeric entry questions, or quantitative comparison questions from topics like arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis. You will be scored between 130 and 170 in one-point increments. You are allowed to use an onscreen calculator to answer the quant section.

Although there's no particular order to follow for answering, you can start with any section. However, make sure to spare yourself enough time to review the answers.

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What is the GMAT?

The GMAT, or the Graduate Assessment Test, is a computer-based test created by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) exclusively for students striving to enrol in an MBA program. The primary focus of the test is to assess the reasoning and critical thinking skills, two critical skills necessary to succeed in graduate business programs. The GMAT can be taken at a testing centre up to five times in a rolling 12-month period. The count should not exceed 8 times in total. As for students taking the GMAT online exam, you can retake the only once.

The official website of GMAC suggests that 200,000 students take the GMAT, and their success rate is 50-60%. According to the report 2023, 61% of Men and 39% of Women take the GRE exam.

Group No. of Students Percent
Total 195,820 100
Men 120,165 60
Women 75,655 39
No Response/New 551 <1


  • Global business school candidatessat for 108,851 GMAT exams in TY2023, a 51.8% decrease from 225,621 GMAT exams in TY2019. A significant portion of the drop from TY 2019 to TY 2023 was due to the impact of COVID-19 on test centre availability, candidate mobility, and uncertainty of the status of graduate programs.
  • GMAT examinees sent 195,820 score reports to programs around the world in TY2023.
  • Women represented 44 per cent of global exams taken in TY2023, down slightly from 47% in TY2019.
  • Candidates younger than 25 represented 49% of global exams taken in TY2023, slightly down from 52% in TY2019.
  • The proportion of exams with a total score of 600 or greater increased by 6% over five years.

GMAT Format

The standard GMAT format depends on your preferred mode of the test. Generally, the in-person version consists of the following four sections. You can organise the sections based on your strength and testing style.

  • Analytical Writing: In this section, you will have to analyse and write a critique of the given scenario in one writing task within 30 minutes. The task is scored from zero to six points in half-point increments.
  • Integrated Reasoning (IR): This section is exclusively found in the GMAT and is designed to evaluate your ability to solve complicated problems using data. You will have to answer 12 IR questions (mostly multiple-choice) in about 30 minutes. Throughout the test, you will be asked to examine data from multiple sources like graphs and tables and solve quantitative and verbal problems. The score for this section will range from one to eight in one-point increments.
  • Quantitative: This section has 31 multiple-choice questions and typically takes 62 hours to complete. The questions generally include Data Sufficiency problems and quantitative problems, where you must determine whether you have sufficient data to answer the given question. By writing correct answers, you can secure six to 51 points in one-point increments.
  • Verbal: Finally, the 65-minutereasoning section contains 36 questions to test your ability to read, comprehend, and analyse the written materials. The questions will focus onreading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction. Your score will range from six to 51 points in one-point increments.

Unlike the GRE, the GMAT allows you to use the onscreen calculator only for the IR section. For the Quantitative Reasoning segment, you can solve problems using a whiteboard or a laminated notebook provided at the testing centre with dry-erase markers. Also, you cannot change answers or return to the skipped answers for a second attempt.

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Latest Updates in the Format

In 2024, both exams saw a significant change in their respective sections. The GRE is now shorter as ETS has removed the argument essay and the experimental (unscored) section. Now, the test primarily focuses on assessing the test taker's skills through the verbal and quantitative sections. Meanwhile, the GMAT has removed sentence correction from the verbal, geometry from the quant and analytical writing from the essay section. This change is made to give more focus to problem-solving by introducing data and science.

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GRE vs GMAT - Exam Score Comparison & Validity

The GMAT follows a scoring scale, and the scoring is done on a scale of 200-800. The GRE, on the other hand, doesn't have a scoring scale in GRE, and the sections are scored between 260 and 340. Any score above 700 and 325 on the GMAT and GRE, respectively, is impressive. Both exam scores are valid for 5 years.

Top GRE & GMAT Accepting Countries

Today, more than 2,300 business schools around the globe accept the GMAT score for their graduate programs. In fact, Ivy League schools like Stanford, Harvard, and Columbia accept the GRE and GMAT scores for their major graduate programs. And it’s not just the top American schools. Over 1300 management schools, 100 law schools, and countless universities in 94+ countries accept the GRE for their graduate programs, which includes the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, France, Germany, Denmark and Sweden, among others.

Note: There are a few schools and universities that have specific eligibility requirements for their specialised master's and doctoral programs. So, carefully check the admission requirements of the course or school you are interested in before taking the GMAT or GRE. 

Cost Comparison of GRE & GMAT

Cost-wise, the GRE is slightly lighter on the pocket, costing $220, while the GMAT costs $275 for a test centre setting and around $300 for the online mode. The GMAT fee includes five free reports, while the GRE fee covers four score reports. Also, you should note that you will have to pay additional charges for added services like rescheduling the exam, changing the exam centre/data, or getting additional score reports. Typically, an extra score report costs $28 for the GMAT and $27 for the GRE. So, if you are planning to take the test multiple times, the GMAT's higher fee could be an issue.

–Cost Courses of GRE & GMAT

Countries Top Courses Cost
USA MS INR 25 and 53.6 lakhs
Canada MS INR 20 and 25 lakhs
UK MS INR 20 and 40 lakhs
Australia MS INR 20 and 30 lakhs

Job Opportunities: GRE vs GMAT

Let's be honest here: both the GRE and GMAT provide attractive career opportunities in diverse job sections. You need to have good grades, skills, and relevant expertise to attract more offers from top employers. However, if you are planning to enter the business, finance, and management sector, your GMAT score can accelerate your chances of landing a job. Most B-schools and recruiters today prefer the GMAT score because the IR section gauges the specific skills and academic abilities necessary to succeed in a business, finance, and management program. No wonder 90% of business school applicants display their GMAT scores in the application to stand out in the crowd.

GRE or GMAT – Which Should You Take?

Determining which test to take depends on the following factors:

  • Academic goals
  • Subject choice
  • Academic strengths
  • School requirements
  • Testing Style
  • Scoring reporting
  • Career goals

The GRE is a versatile exam ideal if you are unsure about your career choice and want to explore options. The GMAT, on the other hand, is specially designed for business school aspirants.

The GRE quant section is comparatively easier than the GMAT's and focuses more on Geometry, while the GMAT counterpart emphasises logical reasoning. Then again, many test-takers find the GMAT verbal section easier as the GRE features more complicated vocabulary.

Both tests have their challenges. So, determine what you want to do in your career and where you want to shine. Assess your goals and strengths, and opt for the test that aligns with your goals.

Read about Best GRE Coaching in Delhi for Students

GMAT Focus Edition vs Shorter GRE

GMAC has recently introduced the GMAT Focus Edition, whereas the ETS has introduced a shorter GRE. Let’s look at the key differences between both:

  GMAT Focus Edition Shorter GRE 
Total Time 2 hours + 15 minutes 1 hours + 58 minutes
Total Sections Quantitative Reasoning Essay (1 task)
Verbal Reasoning Quantitative reasoning (2 sections)
Data Insights Verbal reasoning (2 sections)
Total Questions QR = 21 questions (45 minutes) Essay = 1 task (30 minutes)
VR = 23 questions (45 minutes) QR = 27 questions (47 minutes)
DI = 20 questions (45 minutes) VR = 27 questions (41 minutes)

Now that you know the key differences between both tests, analyse your strengths and goals and decide your way. If you need professional assistance and guidance along the way, you can contact the study abroad experts at AbroAdvice. They have an excellent success rate and can streamline the process for your ease.

  • Shabnam
  • March 11,2024
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