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GMAT or GRE? 3 Steps to Choosing the Right MBA Program

Thursday | March 27, 2014 | by Naimeesha Murthy

If you are thinking about applying to business schools in the U.S., then you should be aware that the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is not the only exam you can take. Over the last few years, more than 1,100 business schools, including Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and Yale, have agreed to accept either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the GMAT. Several schools have expressed that they have unbiased admissions for either one of these tests. We have explored the differences between the two tests for you and hope that this information helps you determine which test is right for you.

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Each year, an increasing number of students are exploring the differences between both tests with the hope of improving their overall graduate school application profile. Data suggests that in 2013; a total of 238,356 tests were administered by GMAC and 731,000 by ETS, which was the highest annual test volume in the program’s history.

If you are in the early stages of applying to a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) program and have questions about which test would be the right choice for you, then the infographic below explains some valuable facts to better understand the differences.

You may have observed that both the GRE and the GMAT are fairly similar and it could be hard to pinpoint the right option for you.

Listed below are 3 steps that will help you decide between the two tests.

  1. Research

    Make a list of all the colleges and universities you plan to apply to. Check to see if they acknowledge both, the GRE and the GMAT. You can view a detailed list of higher education institutions that accept the GRE and GMAT on the ETS and GMAC

  2. Practice

    Schedule time to take practice tests. Practice tests are accessible for free through the ETS and GMAC If you’re not sure how to compare the scoring between both tests, compare your scores using this (GRE to GMAT) conversion tool.

  3. Decide and schedule

    After you have decided between the GRE and the GMAT, make sure to spend some time studying. Fill in a calendar with some realistic study goals that won’t lead you to cram or feeling stressed. Finally, schedule the test and work backward towards the final countdown. If you’re aiming to study in the U.S. at a top business school, you may want to take a long, hard look at the average scores for each university. Median scores will help you in assessing the score you should be looking to secure. For example, Harvard and Stanford business schools revealed that the typical student’s GMAT scores for their 2015 MBA class profile ranged from 550-790, with median scores of 730 and 732 respectively. Having said that, remember that test scores are just one of the many admission requirements for MBA programs. So, if you feel like you can outdo your old score, then, by all means, prepare and re-take the test. See the chart below for average GMAT scores at a few top U.S. business schools.

2013 Average GMAT Scores

Business School 2013 Average GMAT Score
Stanford 732
Harvard Business School 730
University of Chicago (Booth) 723
University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) 720
Northwestern University (Kellogg) 715
University of California—?Berkeley (Haas) 714
University of Michigan—?Ann Arbor (Ross) 703
University of Virginia (Darden) 703
Duke University (Fuqua) 690
University of Texas—?Austin (McCombs) 690


  1. Practice, practice, practice! Because only practice can make one perfect. Sample tests are a great way to exercise time and manage anxiety.
  2. Do not procrastinate as this could lead to errors in the application that could eventually lead to rejection. We know how much you don’t want that!
  3. Try to make all the areas in your application as strong as possible. After you take the test and discover that your score is lower than you expected, go back to step 1 and 2 and focus on the areas that need improvement. Taking the test again to improve your score can be a way to strengthen your application.

As a final point, the GMAT is a better match for students with business backgrounds and strong math skills. On the contrary, the GRE is for students with academic backgrounds other than business with strong English skills or who are applying for other graduate programs as well as MBA programs. There’s no straight answer that guarantees admissions to business schools because schools value diversity and look for capable and unique applicants from all backgrounds.

We are eager to hear from you so please leave us a comment and tell us what your first impressions are about each test and which exam you think would be best for you!

Naimeesha Murthy

Naimeesha Murthy is a Marketing Project Manager at World Education Services.