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GMAT or GRE? A guide for the prospective grad school applicant
By Varsity Tutors So youíve decided to apply for grad school: You have your dream programs picked out and a copy of your transcript ready to send off. The last step you need to take is to complete a standardized exam so you get accepted. But when it comes to these exams, which one should you (full story below)
By Varsity Tutors

So youíve decided to apply for grad school: You have your dream programs picked out and a copy of your transcript ready to send off. The last step you need to take is to complete a standardized exam so you get accepted.

But when it comes to these exams, which one should you take?

Most business schools and MBA programs require the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test). Itís a computer-based, 3.5 hour test that costs $250 to take. The GMAT is a mix of math, writing and reading; comprised of a 30 minute analytical section with one essay, a 30 minute integrated reasoning section, a 75 minute quantitative section and a 75 minute verbal section.

The GRE (Graduate Records Examinations), on the other hand, is usually required to apply for a wide range of graduate school programs, including business. Itís offered both on paper and on a computer, ranges 3.5 to 3.75 hours in length, and costs $205 to take. The GRE, like the GMAT, tests students on their math, writing, and reading skills. It includes a 60 minute analytical writing section with two 30 minute essay sections, a verbal reading section with two 30 minute parts, two 35 minute quantitative reasoning sections and a 30 to 35 minute experimental section that can be verbal or math.

However, some schools offer students the option of submitting scores of either exam. So, when you have several options, how to you decide? Hereís a handy guide to help the prospective grad school applicant choose:

When to take the GMAT

Virtually all business schools and MBA programs require students to take the GMAT. So if youíre planning on applying to business schools, this could be your best choice.

If youíre applying to a business school or MBA program that allows students to submit either the GMAT or GRE, you may want to opt for the GMAT. College admissions experts say the GMAT is sometimes seen as a more serious commitment to business school or MBA program than the GRE, which is considered a more universal type of exam.

Unsurprisingly, being geared toward business students, the GMAT is slightly more math heavy than the GRE. If math is where you excel, you may score higher on it than you would on the GRE. A good idea is to take practice GMATs and GREs and compare your scores. If you perform better on the GMAT, and your prospective grad school program accepts it, opt to take it over the GRE.

When to take the GRE

If youíve decided on grad school but youíre not sure what program you want to apply to, the GRE is probably for you. Itís accepted by a greater number of grad school programs than the business-focused GMAT, so itís a good option if youíre still assessing your options.

If you can choose between the GMAT and GRE, again, itís smart to take practice tests to see which you perform better on. Generally, the GRE is less-math intensive than the GMAT, making it a good option if math isnít your academic strong spot.

Lastly, the GRE is the less expensive exam option. But, realize you can apply for fee waivers for both the GMAT and GRE if you qualify, and high scores on both tests can sometimes score you scholarship money. Check with your prospective grad school admissions departments for more details.

Erica Cirino is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.

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