If you’re applying to graduate schools, you might be confused about whether to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Traditionally, the latter has been for those interested in attending business school while the former is for other graduate programs, but those lines have been blurred in recent years. Today, many business schools will accept the Graduate Record Exam, which means a choice for those students interested in earning a master’s in business administration. According to a recent article in U.S. News and World Report, more than 600 business schools still accept both tests. Read on to learn more about the differences between the two tests.

Test Structure of the GRE and GMAT

The Graduate Record Exam consists of a 75-minute analytic (writing) section that includes two essays, two 30-minute verbal sections and two 35-minute quantitative (math) sections. There’s also a 30-minute experimental section that can be either math or verbal. By contrast, the Graduate Management Admission Test has just one essay, a 30-minute reasoning section, a 75-minute math section and a 75- minute verbal section. Both tests can be taken by computer, although the Graduate Record Exam can also be taken on paper if you prefer. Both tests last approximately 3.5 hours.

Subject Matter

While both tests have verbal, written, and math sections, the way they test these competencies is slightly different. If vocabulary is your strong suit, you may fare better on the Graduate Record Exam, while the Graduate Management Admission Test verbal section is more skewed toward grammar, logic, and reasoning skills. And the former test is more focused on arithmetic and other “quick math” skills, while the latter is focused on word problems and qualitative math reasoning.


The Graduate Record Exam currently costs $150, while the Graduate Management Admission Test costs $250. Scores for both are valid for five years after the test date. While the price difference may seem minor, keep in mind that the cost will add up if you decide to take either test more than once (a strategy employed by many applicants in order to maximize score).

Making the Choice

If you’re torn about which test to take, the first step is to find out which your target business school accepts. A full list of MBA programs that accept both tests is available from the Princeton Review. If you choose a school that accepts both tests, you should opt to take the test in which you expect to get the better score. Prepare for both tests with practice exams, which will give you an idea how you can expect to score and which test will make you the more impressive applicant.

If you’ve decided on business school, either test is valid. But if you are not sure what you want to attend graduate school for, taking the Graduate Record Exam is your safest bet. Whether you decide to take the GRE or GMAT, you should consult the official website for each for test dates and locations: GRE and GMAT.

Related: What is the Difference Between the SAT and the ACT?

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