When applying for international MBA programs, applicants often find themselves confused between the GMAT and the GRE. The confusion is often compounded by the fact that while many schools accept both scores, a small number seem to have a slight preference for one over the other.

Applicants also come across various opinions on the internet or through other sources about one type of exam being easier than the other. With so many differing opinions floating around, it is natural for applicants to feel lost. This article is your one-stop resource for all things related to the GMAT vs GRE debate. Read on to be better informed.

GMAT vs GRE  – The Difference

The Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT) and the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are two different tests that have broad overlapping utilities for admissions to MBA programs. To begin with, as the name suggests, the GMAT is a test tailored specifically to MBA programs. A GRE, on the other hand, can be used to apply for several other streams of study, such as engineering.

Another difference between the two exams is the pattern and the type of questions asked. For instance, where the GMAT has 4 sections, the GRE has 6. This difference in pattern and structure is summarised in the table below. 


        GMAT GRE
Number of Sections         4 6
Test Duration      3.75 hours 3.5 hours
Analytical Writing


      1 Essay 2 Essays


      2 sections of 30 minutes



1 section of 62 minutes



    2 sections of 30 minutes



1 section of 65 minutes

GMAT vs GRE – Which is Easier?

The answer to this one is obvious, isn’t it? If one of the two was easier than the other, and if most B-schools accept both, why bother with the other? So if the question is which is easier from among the GMAT and the GRE, the short answer is, none. The long answer, as always, is that it depends. In the present case, it depends on two things: 

  • Your Strengths – As a rule of thumb, the GMAT lays more stress on the quantitative section, while the GRE tends to lean a little more heavily towards the verbal section. So if you are good at maths, you might find GMAT a little easier to prepare for, whereas if the verbal section is your strength, you might want to consider the GRE. That said, both the exams test you equally rigorously on all parameters, and the differences in difficulty level overall tend to be minor. 
  • Where You are Applying To – If you are sure that you want to apply only for an MBA, the GMAT is a better option. The quantitative section of the GMAT is more in line with the kind of math needed to excel at a B-school. However, if you are not too sure about what course you wish to pursue, you can apply for the GRE.


So, you are sure that you only want to pursue an MBA. Which exam should you take in this case? 

The answer is that although both GMAT and GRE are accepted without bias by most leading global B-schools, GMAT appears to have a slight edge over GRE for those interested only in pursuing an MBA. This is because of the following reasons:

  1. GMAT has Wider Acceptance – A 2015 survey of B-schools by Kaplan concluded that 25% of all business schools surveyed preferred the GMAT over GRE while 75% had no preference. This gives the GMAT a slight edge over the GRE.
  2. Some Employers Might Ask GMAT Scores – It has been reported that some employers, including McKinsey, ask potential applicants to provide their GMAT scores during the recruitment process.
  3. Unconscious Bias – Finally, as the vast majority of applicants to B-schools apply using their GMAT scores, the selection committees might have an unconscious bias in favour of GMAT scores. Also, some colleges might feel that the GMAT’s more rigorous quantitative aptitude testing requirements might be more in line with the quantitative rigour needed in an MBA course

However, it needs to be noted that leading B-schools, including Harvard and Stanford, have repeatedly made it clear that they accept both GMAT and GRE scores and do not show a preference for one over the other.

To Sum Up

When it comes to GMAT vs GRE, all roads lead to Rome, but some roads get you there faster and offer a less bumpy ride. It all boils down to two things – your strengths and your objective. Applicants should therefore not spend too much time analysing the GMAT vs GRE difficulty debate. Instead, it is better to invest in acquiring adaptive skills that make you ready for any test. 

GMAT or GRE is a journey, and you can count on CareerLabs to be your trusted friend and mentor to guide you through it. In addition, you can find a wealth of resources, including sample questions, access to lectures by certified mentors and SMEs, mock exams, and live webinars, all accessible from the comfort of your home through streaming platforms. 


Related Links
gmat question paper 2018 pdf gmat exam pattern and syllabus
gmat registration gmat exam eligibility criteria 2021
gmat exam fees gmat sample questions
difference between mim and mba Average GMAT Scores For The Top Business Schools Abroad
3 month gmat study plan masters in management vs mba

Talk to an expert?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *