If you are planning to advance your career with an MBA and have already started your research, you have probably encountered one of your first dilemmas: GMAT or GRE. While all business schools accept the GMAT, to encourage diversity and give aspiring MBAs more flexibility, more than 1200 business schools worldwide nowadays accept the GRE as well. The key to the dilemma then rests on two important considerations: admissions committee exam preference and personal thinking style.
Talk to the admissions office
The most important factor to consider is which exam is accepted and preferred by your schools of choice. Once you have identified the business schools you plan to apply to, contact them to find out whether they accept both exams and if so, which one their admissions committees assign more value to. According to a 2016 survey among 224 business schools, 26% of admissions officers report giving advantage to applicants who have submitted a GMAT score, 2% consider GRE applicants with priority, while the vast majority assign equal weight to the two exams. If your school of choice does not express a clear preference, choose the test you are more likely to get a better score at.
Play to your strengths
Is math your forte? Do you impress everyone with your English vocabulary? Each exam uses specific question types to test different cognitive skills, so it is best to identify which question types are naturally easier for you and can therefore help you get a higher score. With its 62-min quantitative section focusing on Data Sufficiency, the GMAT is traditionally considered better suited for math lovers, while the GRE – whose two 35-min quantitative sections feature Quantitative Comparison questions and allow the use of a calculator – is preferred by more versatile thinkers. Meanwhile, the two exams’ respective verbal reasoning sections seem to divide applicants into two other categories: grammar police and vocabulary wizards. The GMAT focuses on Sentence Correction, while the GRE’s Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion questions require the skilled command of highly sophisticated vocabulary, which may be particularly challenging to non-native English speakers.
If you are not sure which exam is better aligned with your brain’s wiring, it is worth giving each one a try with a practice test or two. Importantly, when comparing the results, have in mind that MBA admissions committees pay special attention to the quantitative section scores as they are generally considered a key predictor of academic success, given the quantitative focus of the program.
Preparation is key
While determining your brain’s natural predilection for one of the two exams is crucial to your success, it does not in itself guarantee a high score. Whether you choose the GMAT or GRE, being among the top scoring applicants requires rigorous test preparation. To make the best use of your prep time, develop a plan that builds on your strengths to help you achieve even better scores at the sections you are already good at, while also dedicating enough resources to improve your performance at the question types you find more challenging.
If the solution to your test dilemma is the GMAT, we are here to help you prep for a 700+ score and get into your dream MBA program. Schedule your free consultation call and speak to an instructor today.
Contributor: Elizabeth Valcheva