GMAT vs GRE: The Ultimate Face-off for Your Future

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a female student smiling in front of the camera and carrying her stuff

GMAT vs GRE: The Ultimate Face-off for Your Future

Master the crucial choice between ‘GMAT vs GRE’ in our comprehensive blog, guiding you through key aspects and helping you make the right decision to pave your path toward your desired graduate program.

In the bustling world of graduate school admissions, one crucial decision often leaves aspiring students perplexed: GMAT or GRE. This seemingly simple choice carries profound implications, influencing not only the application but also the trajectory of one’s academic journey.

Understanding the unique components and strengths of each exam is essential in aligning your preparation with your long-term career goals.

For many, the GMAT or GRE decision might seem like a dilemma. However, when armed with clear, actionable knowledge, it becomes less about choosing one over the other and more about selecting the tool best suited for your individual success.

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This comprehensive comparison of the GMAT and GRE will provide a nuanced perspective, simplifying your journey toward an impactful decision.

Is the GMAT harder than the GRE?

We’re on a quest to understand two of the most prominent standardized tests that students encounter on their academic journey—the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

But there’s a twist: we’re not simply exploring what these tests are about, we’re diving deeper to address a burning question on many minds, “Is the GMAT harder than the GRE?”.

Factors Influencing Difficulty Level

1. Test Structure and Format

The GMAT and GRE might seem similar at first glance, but they have different structures and formats. On the one hand, the GMAT, with a firm focus on management aptitude, includes four sections: quantitative, verbal, integrated reasoning, and analytical writing assessment.

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On the other hand, the GRE, with a broader scope, tests verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. The nature and style of questions vary between the two, which could affect the perceived difficulty based on an individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

2. Skillset Required

The second important point to consider is the type of skillset each test requires. If you have a knack for complex problem-solving and data analysis, you might find the GMAT quantitative section and integrated reasoning more manageable.

However, if vocabulary and reading comprehension are your strong suits, GRE verbal reasoning could be more manageable. Therefore, the difficulty of each test can significantly depend on one’s personal skillset and academic background.

3. Scoring Mechanism

The third factor contributing to the difficulty level of the GMAT and GRE is the scoring mechanism. The GMAT uses a Computer Adaptive by Question (CAT) format, where the difficulty of questions adapts based on your previous answers within the same section.

A few wrong answers at the start can lead to an overall lower score. GRE, on the other hand, uses a Computer Adaptive by Section (CAS) format, where the second section’s difficulty level adapts based on your performance in the first section.

Understanding these mechanisms can influence your test-taking strategy and help you decide on the GMAT vs GRE debate.

4. Career Goals

It’s important not to lose sight of the big picture—your career goals. Some business schools have a preference for the GMAT, while others accept both GMAT and GRE scores. On the flip side, most non-business graduate programs prefer the GRE.

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Depending on your desired program and institution, you may find yourself leaning towards one test over the other. A higher-stakes test could naturally feel more challenging due to the perceived pressure.

5. Preparation Time

Preparation time and strategies undoubtedly play a massive role in the difficulty of these tests. It’s worth mentioning that the GMAT focuses more on logical reasoning and data analysis, while the GRE leans towards vocabulary and standard math concepts.

Thus, the amount of time required to prepare and the difficulty during this preparation period can vary greatly between the two.

6. Test Duration

The final factor to contemplate is the duration of the tests. The GMAT is slightly shorter than the GRE, which could be a significant factor for test-takers who find it challenging to maintain focus for extended periods.

Comparison of Difficulty in Different Sections

1. Quantitative Reasoning/Quantitative Section

The GRE’s quantitative reasoning section and the GMAT’s quantitative section both aim to assess the mathematical prowess of test-takers. They require a solid grasp of math concepts like algebra, geometry, and data interpretation.

For GRE enthusiasts, the quantitative reasoning section may feel like a comfortable pair of shoes, as it covers more traditional problem-solving tasks and straightforward calculations. It’s an arena where speed and accuracy in basic math play vital roles.

On the flip side, the GMAT’s quantitative section is less about calculations and more about problem-solving abilities. It includes two types of questions: problem-solving and data sufficiency. The data sufficiency questions, in particular, demand a unique approach and can initially seem more complex, making this section appear more daunting to some.

2. Verbal Reasoning/Verbal Section

Another crucial aspect of the GMAT vs GRE debate is comparing verbal sections. These segments test critical reasoning, reading comprehension, and command over the language.

The GRE’s verbal reasoning section places considerable emphasis on vocabulary with text completion and sentence equivalence questions. It also includes reading comprehension passages. If you’re someone with a strong vocabulary and a penchant for reading, this section might not feel as challenging.

Conversely, the GMAT’s verbal section includes sentence correction, reading comprehension, and critical reasoning. It tends to emphasize grammar rules and logical reasoning over vocabulary.

Critical reasoning questions, for instance, require the ability to evaluate arguments and formulate plans of action, which can be more challenging for some.

3. Integrated Reasoning/Analytical Writing

The GMAT’s integrated reasoning section, absent from the GRE, assesses the ability to evaluate and interpret data presented in different formats. This section requires a blend of verbal and quantitative skills to solve complex problems. It can be quite challenging for those who are less comfortable with data analysis.

Both the GMAT and GRE, however, have an analytical writing section. The GRE requires you to write two essays—one involving issue analysis and another with argument analysis.

The GMAT has a single essay task focused on argument analysis. Though similar, the extra essay in the GRE could make it seem more time-consuming and potentially more difficult for those less inclined towards extensive writing.

4. Additional GRE Section

The GRE also includes an extra, unscored section, which can be either verbal or quantitative. This section doesn’t count towards the final score but can be mentally taxing as it’s indistinguishable from the scored sections. Its unpredictability adds an element of surprise and, for some, an additional layer of difficulty.

Personal Preferences and Strengths

1. Math Aptitude: A Deciding Factor

If numbers are a second language to you, then the GMAT’s quantitative section might feel like home. This section, with its unique blend of problem-solving and data-sufficiency questions, leans heavily on logic and reasoning rather than purely computational skills.

The GMAT, therefore, can be a preferred choice for those who enjoy solving math problems with a twist.

Conversely, the GRE’s quantitative reasoning section focuses more on straightforward problem-solving, leaning towards high school level math. So, if you find comfort in more traditional mathematical computations and equations, the GRE might be the test that aligns more with your mathematical strengths.

2. The Vocabulary Enthusiast vs. The Grammar Guru

If you find joy in exploring new words and have a robust vocabulary, the GRE’s verbal reasoning section could be right up your alley. Its text completion and sentence equivalence questions put a test-taker’s vocabulary to the ultimate test.

On the other hand, if sentence structure, grammar rules, and logical reasoning are your forte, the GMAT’s verbal section, with sentence correction and critical reasoning questions, may feel more like a well-tailored suit.

3. The Writing Whiz

Another thing to consider in the GMAT vs GRE comparison is their writing sections. Both the GMAT and GRE feature an analytical writing section, but with slight differences. If writing multiple essays feels more like a marathon than a sprint, then the GMAT, with its singular essay on argument analysis, could be a better fit.

However, if you enjoy expressing various viewpoints and can comfortably switch between different essay tasks, the GRE, with its two essays—one on issue analysis and another on argument analysis—may not seem as daunting.

4. The Data Decoder

The GMAT has an exclusive integrated reasoning section that requires a fusion of verbal and quantitative skills. For those who love decoding complex data and can juggle between different data formats, this section can be an exciting challenge and a reason to favor the GMAT.

In the end, the choice between the GMAT and GRE significantly hinges on personal strengths and preferences. It’s important to assess your skills, practice sample questions from both exams, and choose the one that feels more attuned to your abilities and career goals. Remember, this journey is all about finding the test that complements you best.

Is the GMAT or GRE better for MA?

Is the GMAT or GRE better for MA? If you’re considering furthering your education, it’s crucial to understand the differences between these two standardized tests and which one is most suitable for your academic goals.

As you delve into the application process, you may come across two acronyms that hold significant weight: GMAT and GRE. These standardized tests play a crucial role in the admissions process for many MA programs.

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In this blog post, we will explore the admission requirements for MA programs and discuss the pros and cons of using either the GMAT or GRE for your MA application.

Admission Requirements for MA Programs

When applying for an MA program, be prepared to meet certain admission requirements. While specific criteria may vary across institutions, several common factors include academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal statements, and standardized test scores.

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These scores act as a yardstick for evaluating your aptitude and readiness for the program. In most cases, universities accept either the GMAT or GRE scores, giving you the opportunity to choose the test that best suits your strengths.

Pros and Cons of GMAT vs GRE for MA Applications



  • Focus on business skills: The GMAT is specifically designed to evaluate skills relevant to the business field, including analytical reasoning, critical thinking, and problem-solving.
  • Established reputation: The GMAT has been a staple in business school admissions for many years, and its reputation may carry weight with some institutions and employers.
  • Test structure: With its distinct sections, the GMAT allows you to showcase your abilities in quantitative, verbal, and analytical writing domains.


  • Specialization limitation: If you plan to apply to MA programs outside the business field, some institutions may prefer or require the GRE for a more comprehensive assessment.
  • Cost and availability: The GMAT can be relatively expensive, and test centers may not be as readily available in some regions compared to GRE centers.



  • Versatility: The GRE is accepted by a wide range of graduate programs, making it a convenient choice if you are considering different academic paths.
  • Verbal and writing emphasis: If your strengths lie in areas such as critical reading, vocabulary, and written expression, the GRE may provide an opportunity to showcase these skills.
  • Cost and availability: The GRE is generally more accessible and cost-effective compared to the GMAT, with test centers available in many locations worldwide.


  • Business-focused limitations: Some business schools may still show a preference for the GMAT, especially for MA programs that emphasize quantitative skills and data analysis.
  • Perception and familiarity: Although the GRE has gained acceptance in business schools, the GMAT’s longstanding association with the field may still hold more weight for certain institutions and employers.

As you embark on your MA application journey, researching individual institutions, considering your strengths and career aspirations, and weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each test will empower you to make an informed decision.

Remember, the ultimate goal is to showcase your potential and readiness for your desired MA program, so choose the test that aligns best with your abilities and goals.

Do you need the GMAT or GRE for a Ph.D.?

Do you need the GMAT or GRE for a Ph.D.? If you’re thinking about pursuing a doctoral degree, it’s essential to understand the role of these standardized tests in the admissions process. Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with the GMAT or GRE yet—we’ll explain everything in simple terms.

Here, we’ll dive into the admission requirements for Ph.D. programs, explore the preferences of different graduate schools, and weigh the pros and cons of using the GMAT or GRE for Ph.D. applications. Read on to learn more!

1. Admission Requirements for Ph.D. Programs

Before we delve into the GMAT vs GRE debate, let’s first understand the general admission requirements for Ph.D. programs. While these requirements may vary across universities, several common elements exist:

  • Academic Credentials: Most Ph.D. programs require applicants to hold a master’s degree or its equivalent. Some programs accept exceptional candidates with only a bachelor’s degree, but this is relatively rare.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Applicants are typically asked to submit letters of recommendation from professors or professionals who can vouch for their abilities, research potential, and academic achievements.
  • Statement of Purpose: A well-crafted statement of purpose outlines your research interests, goals, and how pursuing a Ph.D. aligns with your academic and professional aspirations.
  • Transcripts: Official transcripts from all previous educational institutions are usually required to evaluate your academic performance.
  • Research Proposal: Many Ph.D. programs demand a detailed research proposal outlining the scope, methodology, and potential impact of your intended research.

2. Preferences of Different Graduate Schools

When it comes to the GMAT or GRE, each graduate school has its own requirements. However, there are some general tendencies to consider:

  • Business and Management Programs: Business schools predominantly lean toward the GMAT. As the GMAT specifically assesses analytical, quantitative, and verbal skills relevant to the business field, it aligns well with their curriculum.
  • Humanities and Social Sciences Programs: These programs often accept both the GMAT and GRE, as they emphasize critical thinking, writing ability, and analytical skills. The GRE, being more versatile, is commonly accepted in these fields.
  • Engineering and Natural Sciences Programs: The GRE is the preferred choice for many engineering and natural sciences programs. Its broad-based evaluation of analytical, quantitative, and verbal abilities suits the interdisciplinary nature of these fields.

Pros and Cons of Using GMAT or GRE for Ph.D. Applications



  • Relevance: If you’re applying to business or management programs, the GMAT directly assesses skills crucial to these fields.
  • Specialized Preparation: The GMAT allows you to focus on specific sections, helping you tailor your preparation to your strengths and weaknesses.


  • Limited Acceptance: While some programs outside of business may accept the GMAT, it may limit your options compared to the GRE.
  • Cost: The GMAT is generally more expensive than the GRE, including registration fees and preparation materials.



  • Versatility: The GRE is accepted by a wide range of programs, offering you greater flexibility in your application choices.
  • Writing Emphasis: If you excel in analytical writing, the GRE provides an opportunity to showcase your skills.


  • Broad Assessment: The GRE covers a broader range of topics, which may make it more challenging to focus your preparation.
  • Subject Tests: Some specialized Ph.D. programs may require additional subject-specific GRE tests, adding to the workload.

When deciding between the GMAT and GRE for Ph.D. applications, it’s important to consider the specific requirements of your chosen programs. Remember, standardized tests are just one aspect of your application. Focus on strengthening other components, such as your research proposal and recommendation letters, to enhance your overall profile.

Should you take both the GMAT and GRE?

Should you take both the GMAT and GRE? If you find yourself torn between these two tests, you’re not alone! Read on as we explore the GMAT vs GRE comparison and answer the question of whether you should take both the GMAT and GRE, unraveling the key factors you need to consider before making your decision.

Reasons for Considering Both Tests

Expand your options.

Some schools may accept scores from either the GMAT or the GRE, while others may have a preference for one over the other. By taking both exams, you widen your range of potential institutions to apply to, giving yourself more flexibility and increasing your chances of acceptance.

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Showcase your versatility.

Taking both the GMAT and the GRE demonstrates your adaptability and willingness to go the extra mile. It shows admissions committees that you’re capable of excelling in different test formats, which can be a valuable asset when pursuing a diverse range of graduate programs.

Highlight your strengths.

The GMAT and GRE assess different skill sets. The GMAT primarily focuses on quantitative and analytical abilities, while the GRE includes verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing sections.

By taking both tests, you have the opportunity to showcase your strengths in different areas and present a well-rounded profile to admissions committees.

Pros and Cons of Taking Both Tests


Maximizing Your Chances

Different programs may have varying preferences for test scores, and some may even consider both GMAT and GRE scores in their evaluation process. By taking both tests, you increase your chances of meeting or exceeding the requirements of your target institutions.

Personal Comparison

By experiencing both the GMAT and GRE, you can gauge which test format suits you better and in which you perform more strongly. This self-assessment can help you make an informed decision on which scores to submit to your desired schools.


Time and Effort

Preparing for and taking both exams requires a significant investment of time, energy, and resources. Balancing your study schedule and managing the stress of two tests can be challenging, especially if you have other commitments or responsibilities.

Cost Considerations

Taking two standardized tests means incurring additional expenses. You’ll need to pay for registration fees, study materials, and potentially additional coaching or tutoring if desired. It’s essential to evaluate the financial implications before deciding to take both tests.

Factors to Consider in Decision-Making

Target Schools

Research the admission requirements and preferences of the schools you’re interested in. Some programs may explicitly state a preference for one test over the other, while others may accept scores from both tests interchangeably.

Understanding these policies will help you determine if taking both tests is beneficial or necessary for your desired institution.

Test Format and Content

Familiarize yourself with the structure, content, and scoring criteria of both the GMAT and the GRE. Consider your strengths and weaknesses in each test’s respective sections. If you excel in a specific area covered by one test, you may decide that focusing on that exam alone is sufficient to meet your goals.

Time and Resources

Assess your availability and commitment level. Taking two tests requires diligent preparation and dedicated study time. Evaluate whether you can allocate sufficient resources, such as study materials, practice tests, and guidance, to perform well on both exams.

Personal Preference

Reflect on your own test-taking experiences and preferences. Consider factors such as the test format, question types, and your comfort level with each exam. Your personal inclinations can guide your decision on whether to invest the effort in taking both tests.

In the ongoing debate of GMAT vs GRE, the decision ultimately rests on your unique circumstances and goals.

Importantly, excelling in either the GMAT or GRE can give you a competitive edge. By strategically selecting the test that plays to your personal strengths, you can set yourself apart, proving to admissions committees your potential to thrive in challenging academic environments.

Seeking expert guidance can be crucial on this journey. With AdmissionSight, the journey to selecting the perfect school becomes simpler and more strategic. Through an initial consultation, our experts provide tailored advice based on your profile, helping you decide whether the GMAT or GRE better aligns with your academic goals.

Additionally, we provide insight into choosing the most suitable schools and the best strategies to improve application competitiveness.

Don’t leave your future to chance; make the first move towards a successful educational journey by booking an initial consultation with us today.


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