The top b-schools tend to require a Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) or GRE test score to standardize and objectively compare all applications. This helps schools to evaluate candidates in a fairer manner across different professional, academic, and geographical backgrounds.
Most schools show no preference between the GMAT or the GRE. Yet, more than 80% of students rely on the GMAT exam to get into top US MBA programs, and nine in 10 students take the GMAT to apply for top European schools.
So, why do more MBAs take the GMAT instead of the GRE?
The GMAT is more widely accepted
The GMAT is a standardized entrance exam used specifically for business schools and MBAs. The GRE, one the other hand, is a general graduate exam accepted by a variety of non-business graduate programs.
Not only has GMAT been the number one test for b-school admissions, but it also demonstrates your firm commitment to doing an MBA.
“The fact that it is used by leading business schools around the world emphasizes that it is the premier test for business school applicant,” says Stephanie Kluth (pictured), director of admissions at ESMT Berlin.
The GMAT measures the most relevant skills for MBA programs. Each of the four sections—integrated reasoning, quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and analytical writing assessment—target a specific skill you will further hone during your studies and develop for your post-MBA career.
“It gives us a subjective evaluation that complements the candidate’s professional, educational, and personal achievements,” Stephanie adds.
Furthermore, the GMAT is accepted by 2,300 b-schools in more than 7,500 programs while the GRE is accepted by 1,200. According to the 2020 Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) application trends survey, seven out of 10 applicants used GMAT scores when applying to MBA programs ranked in top 100 of the Financial Times Global MBA rankings.
“I felt that it was a safer bet to take this test in case I found myself considering a school that only accepted the GMAT,” says Louise Andersson (pictured below), an MBA student at Copenhagen Business School.
The GMAT offers more choice and flexibility
With the GMAT exam, it’s more flexible to book or amend a test booking, whether you’re taking the exam online or at a test-center.
There is minimal difference between taking the GMAT online or at a test-center. The key distinction between the two options lies in the material provided. At a test center candidate are given five sheets of laminated paper for their answers, whereas when doing the GMAT online they have access to an online whiteboard.
During the test, GMAT candidates have flexibility as to the order they answer each section. The GRE requires answers to each section in a fixed order.
A further reason why MBA students opt for the GMAT over the GRE is that they can send their online score to an unlimited number of b-schools, whereas GRE test scores can only be sent for free to up to four schools before candidates have to pay $27 per school.
The GMAT does not involve building a large vocabulary
International students whose first language is not English tend to also prefer taking the GMAT over the GRE.
The GRE tests college-level academic English, requiring you to know and know how to use difficult vocabulary. In preparation for the verbal reasoning and analytical writing section, students must memorize between 500 to 1000 words and their definitions.
The GMAT, however, tests English grammar but not English vocabulary, making it easier for international students to score highly.
The GMAT can be useful for employers
More MBAs take the GMAT over the GRE for its usefulness when applying for post-MBA roles in at Fortune 500 companies.
Several employers, especially in top-tier consulting firms, consider GMAT scores in job applications. Taking the GMAT can therefore help give candidates a competitive advantage.
“Since the GMAT was developed by and for business schools, it gives GMAT test-takers the edge over GRE test-takers,” says Stephanie of ESMT Berlin.
When preparing for the GMAT or the GRE you’re investing time and money but opting for the GMAT could help you to sharpen your skills and knowledge specifically for business schools and your future career.