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GRE vs GMAT, What’s the Right Test for Me?

Students have very tough criteria to meet if they want to be eligible for a competitive university. Along with fulfilling countless recommendations, writing essays, and maintaining grades, students are required to take an additional test such as the GRE and GMAT which determine whether or not they get admission into their dream programmes.

For many universities all over the global, the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) are the two most popular admission tests. Students take one or the other when applying for their desired universities, depending on the specific university’s requirements or the student’s skill set.

Some reputed universities accept either of the two, while some are stringent on a particular one. So, for the students who ask, “Which test should I take to apply for universities?”, continue reading this article.

What’s the difference?

Most students are generally clueless when it comes to the difference between the two tests. Both have sections for English and Math, so where does the difference lie?

Well, as the names suggest, the major difference is in the purpose of the test. The GMAT is mainly for MBA and admission into business schools, while GRE is accepted for all other sorts of programmes and universities.

Thus, the GRE is the more popular of the two, with students from a broad spectrum of fields taking it. Though many business schools have relaxed the criteria and accept the GRE now as well, it is best to inquire beforehand about the requirements of your specific university and programmes so you can register in time for the right test.

There are other differences between the two tests. Here’s a breakdown of the comparative analysis of the two.


The GRE is an examination that takes a total of 3 hours and 45 minutes. The exam is sufficient for almost all graduate programmes, except for business schools, unless specified otherwise.

The GRE costs $195 and is taken by almost 655,000 students each year. This test can be taken in a computerised form, as well as on paper a few times a year. The structure and format of the test are as follows.

  • 1 Analytic section with 2 essays
  • 2 Verbal sections
  • 2 Quantitative sections

The GRE is considered the easier of the two when it comes to math problems, perhaps because it allows the use of a calculator, while the GMAT doesn’t. You receive separate scores for all three sections of the test, with the scores ranging from 130-170.

Is the GRE easier?

Compared to other graduate exams, such as the MCAT or LSAT, the GRE is often considered less difficult because it requires less specialised knowledge, has an easier curve, and generally has less-challenging math questions.


The Graduate Management Admission test, on the other hand, takes 3 hours and 30 minutes. Specially designed for potential business school candidates, the test is only taken by about 250,000 students yearly. It costs a considerable amount more than the GRE, though, and is priced at $250. The GMAT can only be taken in a computerised form, and comprises of:

  • 1 Analytic section with one essay
  • 1 Integrated Reasoning section
  • 1 Quantitative section
  • 1 Verbal section

The GMAT is considered harder than GRE because of its focus on reasoning and more complex quantitative questions, which are to be done without a calculator. The candidate receives 5 separate test scores; one for each section, and one cumulative. The scoring ranges from 200-800 points.

Why is the GMAT difficult?

Because the GMAT is a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT), the question difficulty is adjusted according to your performance. The first question is of medium difficulty. If you answer correctly, questions become more difficult.

Talk to our IDP education counsellors to see which test is accepted by the university you seek. You’ll also get detailed information about the university requirements before you register for your GREs or GMATs.

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