GMAT or GRE? Increasingly this is becoming a question on the minds of prospective business school students. Traditionally a standardized test for graduate schools other than business (for example, masters of public administration), the Educational Testing Service (ETS) announced last week that more than 1,000 business schools worldwide now accept MBA applicants’ scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) instead of the GMAT.
Among the newly added schools are many business programs that offer online Master of Business Administration degrees, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Indiana University, Arizona State University, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Pepperdine University, and George Washington University.
So should online MBA students be thinking GRE or GMAT?
Lee Weiss, director of graduate programs for Kaplan Test Prep says that for most MBA students, the GMAT is still the best option.
“The GMAT was created for business schools to get a certain level of candidate,” said Weiss. “If it wasn’t as rigorous, they might not get students qualified to handle the level of work in business school.”
But he also notes that for students debating between MBA or another master’s degree, such as a master’s of finance, the GRE might be a more flexible option.
Structure of the GRE
Like the GMAT, the GRE is composed of a verbal and math section. Weiss says the verbal section of the GRE tends to have more of a passage based with an emphasis on vocabulary. He adds that the math section is generally believed to be easier. The format of the tests also differs. On the GRE, test questions are given in a “multiple stage format,” meaning that students will be given one stage of 20 questions, and depending on how they do on the first stage, the next stage of 20 questions will be harder or easier. The more challenging the second section, the better the chance that a student will receive a high score. The GMAT adapts at the question level.
“Getting a question right means the next question will be harder and your score will go up; answering a question incorrectly means the next question you see will be easier and your score will go down,” Weiss explained.
There’s also a price difference between the two tests; the GMAT costs $260, while the GRE is $175.
Why the Growth of GRE Test Takers?
ETS saw record numbers of GRE test takers in 2011, with 8,000 students sitting down for the test. ETS also saw large numbers of international test takers.
“ETS has done a good job of marketing the test as an alternative to the GMAT, and in the international market, there’s a lot of hunger for business education,” said Weiss. “Demographically, the number of female students that take the GRE heavily outweighs the GMAT. For business schools looking to cast a wider net, accepting the GRE is a good way to attract female candidates.”
For students interested in seeing which test better fits their strengths, Kaptest.com offers sample questions and many tutoring and test preparations options for both the GRE and GMAT.
–Alanna Stage, @AlannaTweets