We’ve all been there. The night before a test, working against the clock, cramming as much information as possible into our brains.
The world of MBA applications is no different. Even before test prep starts, business school candidates are faced with a dilemma. Should you take the GRE® General Test or the GMAT® exam?
Although both paths are paved with good intentions, one is becoming increasingly alluring. Taking the GRE® General Test instead of the GMAT is an increasingly popular option for business school applicants—admissions expert Barbara Coward says around 50% of the applicants she coaches opt to take the test.
BusinessBecause caught up with Barbara, and expert admissions coach Bara Sapir—founder and CEO of TestPrep New York and TestPrep San Francisco—to find out more.
Here are five reasons why they think you should take the GRE® General Test:
GRE® General Test scores are valid for five years, and you have the option to send only your best set of scores to schools, no matter how many times you have taken the test.
Seven out of 10 GRE® General Test takers get the same, or even better scores, on the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections when they take the test a second time.
This gives candidates the flexibility to test multiple times, familiarizing themselves with the process before selecting their best set of test scores with which to apply to business school.
What’s more, the GRE® General Test does not apply specifically to MBA programs; it can be used to apply for a variety of master’s and other graduate programs.
“It gives you the flexibility if you’re not entirely sure whether you want to do an MBA,” Barbara explains. “You take that one test and you’re one and done.”
Nearly 1,300 business schools accept GRE® General Test scores for their MBA programs, including 98 of the top 100 institutions on the U.S. News & World Report 2019 Best Business Schools Ranking, 83 of the top 85 institutions on Bloomberg Businessweek 2017 Best U.S. MBA Programs ranking, and 90 of the top 101 institutions on The Financial Times 2018 MBA Ranking.
The growth in popularity of the GRE® General Test, alongside the wealth of institutions that accept scores, makes it an attractive proposition.
Students have a choice, says Bara, to take practice tests for both the GMAT and the GRE® General Test. They can then see which they feel more comfortable with, and which they score higher on. The rise in popularity suggests that students are increasingly more comfortable with the GRE® General Test and score higher when they go down this route.
A rise in popularity could also come down to cost, says Barbara. The GRE® General Test is $55 cheaper than the GMAT.
“How many cups of coffee does that buy you?” Barbara asks. The answer is a lot—certainly enough to keep you caffeinated during those study sessions.
With the elite MBA programs costing upwards of $100,000, every little bit you can save will help. And, since the GRE® General Test and the GMAT are looked at in the same way by business schools, it makes sense to go for the more affordable option.
4. Challenging, but benevolent
We all wish sitting for an examination was a walk in the park, complete with an ice pop and a gentle summer’s breeze. But, in reality, we know that’s not the case.
Business schools want evidence that you’re an appropriate candidate, that you’re going to fit into their program and steamroll into a successful career after you graduate. The GRE® General Test is a vital piece of evidence, part of the puzzle.
Still, applicants might feel less stressed with the format of the GRE® General Test: “The advanced adaptive design of the GRE® General Test allows applicants to freely move forward and backward throughout an entire section, allowing them to use more of their own test taking strategies” Bara explains.
5. Free test prep
Educational Testing Service (ETS), the maker of the GRE® General Test, offers POWERPREP® Online, which allows candidates to take two practice GRE® General Tests before the real thing.
Test takers get instant access to their scores on the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections.
The ease of access to free practice material means there’s no excuse not to familiarize yourself with the test before you commit to the path towards full-examination. And, says Barbara, “it’s never too soon to start!”
ETS, GRE, POWERPREP are registered trademarks of Educational Testing Service (ETS). GMAT is a registered trademark of the Graduate Management Admission Council, which does not endorse or approve this article.