In a poll of over 3,000 MBA applicants, 4 in 5 voted in preference of the GMAT over the GRE. A significant 78.7% voted in favor of the GMAT, compared with 21.2% who preferred the GRE.
When applying to business school, MBA candidates typically choose to take either the GMAT or GRE as an indicator of academic readiness for a program. Schools accept candidates partly based on their GMAT or GRE scores.
While not a perfect measure, the poll indicates a lasting preference of business school applicants for the GMAT vs GRE.
GMAT vs GRE
What’s the difference between the GMAT and the GRE? We’ve written a bumper GMAT vs GRE guide explaining the core differences, covering things like exam structure, scoring, and cost to help you choose the best test for you.
Fundamentally, the GMAT, owned and administrated by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), is designed specifically for business school candidates, which may explain its popularity. The GMAT is the most widely-used exam for MBA admissions.
The GRE, by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), can be used to apply to a variety of graduate degree programs.
However, business schools’ opinions on GMAT vs GRE are mostly neutral, and schools do not tend to have a preference for one test over the other.
Both the GMAT and GRE are also available to take online, with GMAC launching a new enhanced version of the GMAT Online Exam in May 2021.
When choosing between the GMAT and the GRE, Sameer Kamat, founder of MBA Crystal Ball, recommends following this approach:
1. Check out each test format (duration, sections, marking)
2. Review the topics covered in each.
3. Try out a mock test for each test.
“If you're still confused after going through each step, go for the GMAT. It's still the most widely accepted test for management programs,” says Sameer.
Why might candidates prefer the GMAT?
Some candidates prefer the GMAT because of its track record and status as the original business school admission test.
Providing his opinion alongside the poll, Shardul Pendharkar from India said:
“GMAC research has shown a strong correlation between a high GMAT score and a strong MBA performance/post career progression. GMAT has proven to be a very reliable indicator of a candidate’s future potential and it’s for this reason that schools value this score a lot!”
Sameer says more candidates prefer the GMAT because it was designed specifically for management programs; GMAC gathers a lot of data that’s helpful to schools and candidates; and the level of English vocabulary needed for the GRE is an extra hurdle for non-native speakers.
Some candidates responding to the MBA Crystal Ball poll did prefer the GRE or were neutral. Andrew Foley, from the USA, said:
“The GRE is biased in favor of people with qualitative/social sciences backgrounds, and the GMAT privileges more quantitatively-oriented applicants. We need both types of thinkers in business schools and in top management positions afterward.”
Reaction from GMAC & ETS
Alberto Acereda, executive director of global higher education at ETS, says the GRE has seen a growth in demand from business school applicants. ETS has received more than 340,000 registrations for the GRE at Home test since its launch in 2020.
21 of the top 25 business schools ranked by US News also saw an increase in applicants submitting GRE scores in the past year, he says, although the majority of candidates still take the GMAT.
“Our total share of the business school market is almost 30%,” says Alberto.
“We continue to see significant strides in acceptance parity among business schools and programs and we will leverage this growth to encourage even more prospective students to take advantage of the unique opportunity that the GRE test offers.”
Since launching the GMAT Online Exam, GMAC has delivered more than 60,000 exams sat by candidates from over 150 countries who’ve sent scores to over 4,000 global business school programs. In response to the poll result, GMAC said:
“The GMAT exam is proven to be the most effective predictor of how successful a candidate will be in their chosen program, and is an excellent way for someone applying to business school to show their commitment and their readiness, and to help themselves stand out amongst the other applicants.”
Full disclosure: BusinessBecause is owned by GMAC. However, this article is intended as an objective report on the results of a poll by an independent publisher.
When choosing GMAT vs GRE, test-takers should make their own decision on which test to pursue.