The Key Differences Between the GRE and the GMAT

As with most standardized tests, neither of the GRE nor the GMAT measures how much you know. They measure how well you can take an exam.


Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) is the entrance exam for most graduate schools. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people who want to pursue a master’s degree or go to business school take the GRE.

Test-takers are allowed three hours and 45 minutes to finish the exam, excluding short breaks in between sections. This is fifteen minutes longer than the three and a half hours allotted for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT).

The GRE math section tests students on basic arithmetic including algebra, geometry, data interpretation, ratios and word problems. Some people opt for the GRE because it’s the only exam out of the two that allows for test takers to use a calculator.

The GRE’s verbal section focuses mostly on vocabulary, so brush up on those thesaurus skills. The exam poses questions involving text completion, sentence equivalence and reading comprehension in this section. The math and verbal sections are graded between 130-170 on a one-point scale.

The analytical section is comprised of two open essays. The first asks for you to pick one of two given stances and make an argument defending your choice. The second essay asks for a written evaluation of a given argument. The analytical portion of the GRE is graded from 0-6 on a half-point scale.


The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a test strictly for business schools, as opposed to the GRE which is a general graduate school admissions test. The GMAT is scored from 200 to 800, and a 650 or higher is considered a good score. Applying to business school doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have to take the GMAT – the GRE is accepted most places unless indicated otherwise. Less than half the number of people that take the GRE take the GMAT.

It would be wise to verify with your prospective schools which exams are preferred.

According to the Princeton Review, close to 700 business schools accept the GRE and that number is growing.

The GMAT has four sections and test takers are allotted three and a half hours to complete the exam.

The analytical section of the GMAT calls for students to analyze an argument they are given and submit a written response.

The Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT includes multi-source reasoning, graphics interpretation, two-part analysis and table analysis.

The quantitative portion of the GMAT tests students on data sufficiency and problem solving. This part of the test is known for being harder than its GRE counterpart, and you’re not allowed to use a calculator.

The verbal section of the GMAT focuses on reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction. As opposed to the GRE, the GMAT focuses on grammar instead of vocabulary.

The GMAT has a different format from the GRE, and it’s generally more expensive. Both exams’ scores are valid for five years. Taking the GRE would be a suitable option for those who are considering a wide variety of graduate programs, and an MBA is one of the options that they have in mind.

Whichever test you decide to take, it’s always a good idea to seek out some help preparing for the test. Luckily both the GRE and GMAT practice tests are free. When you decide which test fits you best, consider test prep from testing centers such as Kaplan or Princeton Review


Taking on the GRE (GRE Information)

About the GMAT Exam (About the GMAT Exam)

Format and Timing (GMAT Exam)

GRE vs. GMAT (Magoosh Online Test Prep)