Trevor Klee By: Trevor Klee

Getting into graduate school is tough and confusing, not the least because there are several different tests you might need to take in order to qualify for a given program. Further compounding the difficulty is the lack of clear distinctions between the GRE and the GMAT.

Oftentimes, graduate students wonder which of these tests they should take and what separates them in the first place.

Today, let’s go over both of these advanced tests and explore what they are, how you can take them, which one you should take, and any practice resources that might exist.

Summary: Learn the differences between the GRE and GMAT. If you will be taking the GRE, consider using a GRE online course.

Who Accepts It? Most Grad School Programs
Some MBA Programs (950+ in US)
All MBA Programs (3,000+)
Some Grad School Programs
Cost $205 $275
Test Sections Analytical Writing: 1 section/60 minutes
Verbal Reasoning Section 1: 20 questions/30 minutes
Verbal Reasoning Section 2: 20 questions/30 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning Section 1: 20 questions/35 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning Section 2: 20 questions/35 minutes
Analytical Writing Assessment: 1 question/30 minutes
Integrated Reasoning: 12 questions/30 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning: 31 questions/62 minutes
Verbal Reasoning: 36 questions/65 minutes
Test Length 3 hours 45 minutes 3 hours 30 minutes
Scoring Section scores (verbal and quant) range from 130 to 170 in 1 point increments. Writing is scored separately. Total scores range from 200 to 800 in 10 point increments. Writing and Integrated Reasoning are scored separately.
Score Percentiles Top 10%: 162 verbal/167 quant
Median (50%): 151 verbal/153 quant
Top 10%: 710
Median (50%): 590
How Long Scores are Good For? 5 years 5 years
Difficulty Verbal, vocabulary and writing are more challenging. Generally easier than the GMAT. Math is extremely challenging for most. Emphasis on grammar.
Who Should Take It? If you are applying to both grad school and MBA programs and have strong verbal skills. If you are applying only to MBA programs and are strong quantitatively. Top business programs, investment banks and recruiters may place more weight on GMAT scores.
Best Ways to Prepare Free GRE Practice Tests
Best GRE Prep Courses
Free GMAT Practice Tests
Best GMAT Prep Courses

Students looking for additional resources can check out this GRE and GMAT app, 21st night.

At first glance, the sections of the GMAT and GRE may very similar. Although the sections have the similar names, there are different concepts tested on the two tests.

Quantitative Sections

The quantitative sections of the GRE and GMAT have some differences that may not seem obvious at first. Students who take the GMAT will need to complete a data sufficiency section. Students who take the GRE will complete a quantitative comparison section.

Students should also note that the GMAT does not allow calculators, while the GRE does. Mental math is more important for candidates who will be taking the GMAT.

Verbal Sections

The same is true for the verbal sections of the GRE and GMAT - they may appear similar but have some differences. Students taking the GMAT will complete a sentence correction section while GRE students will not have to do that. GRE students will instead complete a sentence equivalence section.

It is worth noting that the GMAT places a bigger emphasis on critical reasoning when compared to the GRE.


Both the GRE and GMAT adapt as candidates progress through the test. Adaptation is something to consider when looking at the GRE vs. GMAT.

Adaptation means the computer selects the difficulty of the next question or section based on how a candidate answered the previous questions.

The GRE adapts on a section by section basis while the GMAT adapts on a question by question basis.

The GRE costs $205 to take the standard test spread, with additional fees and costs for other services or if you take the test in a country other than the US. Once taken, you can take the GRE an additional five times every 21 days over a continuous 12 month period.

This allows students to improve upon their scores and study for particular sections if they aren’t pleased with their initial results.

The GRE is taken on the computer and you can return to questions that you’ve already answered within a section, although you cannot go back to previous sections you’ve completed.

The GMAT costs $275 for US students and costs more for international students. You can take the GMAT once every 16 calendar days and five times total over a rolling 12 month period.

Additionally, the GMAT has a lifetime limit that only allows you to take the test eight times in total. This means an individual can’t improve their score beyond what they get within the first eight attempts, making subsequent attempts extremely important.

The GMAT is also taken over the computer. Unlike the GRE, you can’t go back to previous questions after you’ve answered them. You also cannot return to previously completed sections.

Both tests can be challenging based on how well you have prepared for them beforehand and your natural talent. Studying the right materials before attempting either exam will result in a better experience and higher score regardless.

In general, the GRE is considered easier than the GMAT. To determine which will be easier for you, you can look at the types of questions and knowledge that make up each exam. The GRE focuses on your critical thinking and primarily tests your vocabulary in context.

On the flip side, the GMAT is a more flexible exam designed to bring up the creativity in its takers. It asks its takers to interpret data and solve complex problems and explain their reasoning more than the GRE does.

The GRE incorporates a more straightforward math section and includes a calculator for its quantitative problems, while the GMAT does not. The GMAT's quant section is considered more challenging than the GRE's.

There are multiple online exam prep resources you can take advantage of to study for either exam:

First, consider what type of graduate degree will be pursuing. If you are planning to apply to business school or an MBA program, you automatically must take the GMAT for the majority of top-level business programs.

On the other hand, you can take the GRE if you aren’t taking a business program and think that you will be able to master its material more easily based on its design (described above).

If you have a choice between both, it may be wise to practice both the GRE and GMAT tests using the above materials and see which test you perform better with. You can then dedicate more efforts toward studying for the better test and use your time efficiently.


(click on image to enlarge)

All in all, both the GRE and the GMAT may be required material for you to complete and submit scores for over the course of your application. However, we’d recommend focusing on taking one or the other depending on the type of program you want to join and your skillset.

This will allow you to focus your efforts on one test and do well instead of stretching yourself too thin. Good luck and remember to practice!