What’s the Difference Between the GRE and GMAT?

If you applied to an American college or university for your undergraduate studies, you probably remember taking the SAT or ACT. Yet another standardized test awaits if you apply to a US graduate school: the GRE or GMAT. But what is the difference between the GRE and GMAT? Students who are applying to a business school or another management program usually take the GMAT. Students who plan to study most other subjects in graduate school usually take the GRE. However, some graduate schools give their prospective students the choice of which test to take. You should know the difference between the GRE and GMAT so you can choose the test that best emphasizes your strengths.

GRE: Graduate Record Examination

The GRE is offered year-round and tests potential graduate students in four areas:

  • verbal reasoning
  • quantitative reasoning
  • critical thinking
  • analytical skills

Test-takers receive three scores: one each for verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing. It is primarily a computer-based test. It can be given on paper, however, if the computer-based test isn’t available.

The test costs $175 worldwide, including in the U.S.

You also can take GRE subject tests.

These are available in eight different subjects:

They are offered at paper-based test centers in April, October and November. The cost is $130 in the US and US territories and $150 elsewhere in the world.

GMAT: Graduate Management Admission Test

The GMAT tests verbal, math, analytical and integrative reasoning skills in four sections:

  • analytical writing assessment
  • quantitative
  • verbal
  • integrative reasoning

Test-takers receive five scores: one for each section, plus a total score. You will also receive a percentile rank for each score. Then you will know the percentage of test-takers in the past three years who received a lower score. The cost of the test is $250 around the world.

The GRE or GMAT is required for future graduate students in most fields. Students must take a different test, however, if they plan to study one of several specialty professions, including dentistry, law and medicine.

Before you take any test, ask the graduate schools that you are considering what tests you must take or which they prefer. Knowing the difference between the GRE and GMAT allows you to pick the test that matches your abilities and prepares you to enter the field of your choice.