Chris Lele

GMAT vs. GRE: How Are They Different?

Man comparing GMAT vs GRE details - image by Magoosh

You might be debating between taking the GMAT vs. GRE (or both!). The GRE is designed for people applying to graduate school, while the GMAT is only for MBA candidates. The key to figuring out whether to take the GMAT or GRE lies in understanding the different tests—and then finding out which showcases your skills and meets your needs better. Let’s dive in!


Table of Contents


What’s the difference between the GRE and the GMAT?

Description GRE GMAT
Who takes the test? Anyone hoping to get a master’s degree or PhD, or attend business school or law school Those looking to go to business school. That’s it!
How many business schools accept the test? Over 1,300 universities and organizations—check with your specific school! Over 7,700 business programs at 2,400 universities around the world. If any test is required at a business school, the GMAT will satisfy that requirement.
Cost $220 (continental and US territories) $275 at test center, $300 online
Time for the Test 1 hours and 58 minutes 2 hours and 15 minutes
Test Format Computer-based at test centers or online Computer-based at test centers or online
Verbal Questions Emphasis on vocabulary—learn complex vocabulary in context by reading newspapers and magazines. Emphasis on grammar—pick up a grammar primer pronto to understand clauses, commas, and more.
Math Questions Easier than the GMAT; can use an on-screen calculator Harder than the GRE; on-screen calculator for Data Insights only


GMAT vs. GRE test-takers - infographic by Magoosh

Who Takes the Test

The GRE, offered by the Educational Testing Service, is designed for people applying to graduate school: master’s degrees or business schools. On the other hand, the GMAT, offered by the Graduate Management Admission Council, is exclusively for those applying to business school: MBA applicants.

Because of the difference in the tests’ uses, around 341,574 people take the GRE every year, while fewer than half that number, 108,851, take the GMAT. This makes sense: more people apply to graduate programs in general than business schools specifically.

As you can see, test-takers applying to business schools can take either test—with the caveat that you should always check with the specific schools you’re applying to. At the moment, 1,300+ business programs accept GRE scores, while 7,700+ accept the GMAT.


GMAT vs GRE cost - infographic by Magoosh


Within the United States and its territories, the GRE costs $220. The GMAT runs slightly higher, at $275 and $300 for online tests.


GMAT vs. GRE When, Where, How - infographic by Magoosh

When, Where, and How

Both tests are offered year-round. If you’re thinking back to your college admissions process and the limited SAT or ACT dates, get that out of your mind! The GRE and GMAT are both offered throughout the year, though you should register early for your preferred test date.

Both exams are given at computer-based test centers around the world or online with a virtual proctor.

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Test Structure: Sections and Content

The GRE and GMAT differ in both the content and how it’s tested. Here’s what has changed with the shorter test formats:

GMAT Focus

  • Removed Sentence correction from Verbal Reasoning, Geometry from Quantitative Reasoning, and the essay section entirely
  • Replaced Integrated Reasoning with Data Insights


  • Removed 1 essay section (Issue task)

Verbal Sections
The GRE tests the following, with a strong emphasis on vocabulary:

  • Sentence Equivalence
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Text Completion

The GMAT tests these areas, with a strong emphasis on grammar:

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Critical Reasoning

When comparing the GMAT vs. GRE, you’ll notice the format of the questions also varies. The GRE has three types of questions: choose all answers that apply; choose a sentence in the passage; and multiple choice. The GMAT only has one: multiple choice.

The GRE is a computer-adaptive test within the Verbal and Quant sections. So is the GMAT.
The GRE gives two Verbal Reasoning sections of 18 and 23 minutes each and 27 questions total while the GMAT gives 1 section of 21 minutes and 23 questions.

Click here to try a sample GRE Verbal question

Click here to try a sample GMAT Verbal question


Question 1 of 10

1. Consider each of the choices separately and select all that apply.

Both P and Q are positive numbers, and S is a negative number. Which of the following fractions could be undefined?

Question 1 of 10

Question 2 of 10

2. The average price of a home County X is 250,000. The average price of a home in County Y is 300,000. The average price of a home in both County X and Y is 265,000.

Column A: The number homes in County X

Column B: The number homes in County Y

Question 2 of 10

Question 3 of 10

3. Enter the answer as a fraction.
gre practice test magoosh
What is the value of x? Give your answer as fraction.

Question 3 of 10

Question 4 of 10

4. Choose the correct statement.
gre practice test magoosh

Question 4 of 10

Question 5 of 10

5. Choose the option that best answers the question.

A container currently holds 4 quarts of alcohol and 4 quarts of water. How many quarts of water must be added to the container to create a mixture that is 3 parts alcohol to 5 parts water by volume?

Question 5 of 10

Question 6 of 10

6. 7 years ago, Samir was 3 times as old as Deepak. In 4 years, Samir will be twice as old as Deepak. What is Deepak’s present age?

Question 6 of 10

Question 7 of 10

7. Choose the option that best answers the question.

At a certain store, one can buy 6 cans of juice for $8. How many cans of this same juice could one buy with $48?

Question 7 of 10

Question 8 of 10

8. Choose the option that best answers the question.
gre practice test magoosh

Question 8 of 10

Question 9 of 10

9. The area of a square is doubled.

Column A: The percent increase in one side of the resulting square
Column B: 50%

Question 9 of 10

Question 10 of 10

10. If four numbers are randomly selected without replacement from set {1, 2, 3, 4}, what is the probability that the four numbers are selected in ascending order?

Question 10 of 10


Math Sections
The GRE and GMAT both test the same math topics:

  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra
  • Data Interpretation (note that the GMAT tests this on a separate section, Data Insights)
  • Word Problems

They use different formats for Math questions, though. The GRE uses multiple-choice, multiple answers, numeric entry, and quantitative comparisons, while the GMAT uses problem-solving (multiple-choice) questions.

The key difference? Many students find GMAT math to be harder than GRE math. This doesn’t have to do with the content tested (as you see above, this is the same), but instead in the way it’s tested.

In addition, you can use a calculator on the GRE. You cannot on GMAT Quant (only Data Insights).

  • Using a calculator on the GRE can actually slow you down! Use practice tests to see which problems a calculator works best for. For the GMAT, force yourself to use basic arithmetic in your head until test day, like calculating your grocery total as you shop.

Finally, the GRE gives you two Quantitative Reasoning sections at 21 and 26 minutes each with 27 questions, while the GMAT gives one that is 21 questions and 45 minutes long.

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GMAT vs GRE timing - infographic by Magoosh

GMAT vs. GRE Timing

Let’s talk about timing. For the GRE, you’re looking at 1 hour and 58 minutes of test time, for the Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing sections. The GMAT, extends to 2 hours and 15 minutes for the Verbal, Quantitative, and Data Insights sections.


GMAT vs GRE scoring scales - infographic by Magoosh

Scoring Scales

The GRE is scored on a scale of 260-340. The GMAT is scored from 205-805. Here’s a breakdown of scoring for each test.

GRE Scoring Scale

  • Analytical Writing : 0-6
  • Verbal: 130-170
  • Quantitative: 130-170
  • Total Score (Combined): 260-340

GMAT Scoring Scale

  • Data Insights: 60-90
  • Verbal: 60-90
  • Quantitative: 60-90
  • Total Score (Combined): 205-805

A high score on the GRE (90th percentile) is 326, while a high score on the GMAT (89th percentile) is 645.
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Which test is easier: GMAT or GRE?

The question of which is easier, GMAT vs. GRE, really depends on you. That is, it depends on who is taking the test and their strengths. For those with strong Quant skills the GRE math will seem easy. The GMAT math is definitely more daunting. So if you struggle with Quant, the GMAT will seem very difficult. On the other hand, it can be a great choice for those with stronger math skills.

Meanwhile, if you struggle with the nuances of vocabulary and style, the GRE verbal section may be very difficult. That is not to say that the GMAT verbal section is easier. But the Sentence Corrections section is more of the science of grammar, and those with logical minds tend to be more adept at quickly sifting through a morass of words to find grammatical errors. The GRE Text Completions and Sentence Equivalence questions, by contrast, are testing the art of word usage, a skill most humanities majors have been honing for years.
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Advantages of the GMAT vs. GRE: Which test do I choose?

So, which test do you need to take for MBA programs? This is the big question lots of business school candidates ask themselves. The two tests have very different pros and cons.

One of the advantages of taking the GMAT is that it’s accepted at every business program: if you haven’t decided where you’re applying yet, taking the GMAT instead of the GRE keeps your options open.

On the other hand, if you know the b-schools you’re applying to, and they all accept both, you’ll need to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Are you super strong in math? The GMAT might be for you. Better at vocab than grammar? The GRE could be the better choice.

The best way to find out which test is more advantageous for you to take is to take a (free) official GRE practice test and an official GMAT test. You can also compare the GMAT score ranges of MBA programs with your achieved score. For the GRE, use these average GRE test scores.

If you score significantly better on one, then the answer is clear. If there isn’t much difference, spend a week getting a feel for each test to see which one suits your skillset better.

Do business schools prefer the GMAT or the GRE?

The GMAT is the standardized test for Business school. Like the GRE, it consists of a Verbal and Quantitative section. Unlike the GRE, the two sections are combined to give a composite score of 800. The GMAT cannot be used in place of the GRE, so unless you are going to business school, do not take the GMAT.

Unlike the GMAT, which is only taken by business school applicants, the GRE is accepted by many types of graduate programs—including accredited business schools and top business schools (ever hear of Stanford or Harvard?). That is not to say all the top business programs accept a GRE score. So when it comes to taking the GMAT vs. GRE for MBA admissions, always check with the business programs’ admissions committees to see which ones accept GRE scores as well as GMAT scores.
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Takeaway: GMAT vs. GRE

Deciding whether the GMAT vs. GRE is the better option involves an honest evaluation of your skills, needs, and weaknesses. The good news is that you’ve already started down the path to figuring out your application process just by reading this post!

Next steps? Try our free GRE diagnostic test and our GMAT diagnostic test to get a better sense of which test is right for you!

No matter whether you decide to take the GMAT or GRE, we’re here to help. Check out Magoosh GRE prep or Magoosh GMAT prep today!


  • Chris Lele

    Chris Lele is the Principal Curriculum Manager (and vocabulary wizard) at Magoosh. Chris graduated from UCLA with a BA in Psychology and has 20 years of experience in the test prep industry. He’s been quoted as a subject expert in many publications, including US News, GMAC, and Business Because. In his time at Magoosh, Chris has taught countless students how to tackle the GRE, GMAT, SAT, ACT, MCAT (CARS), and LSAT exams with confidence. Some of his students have even gone on to get near-perfect scores. You can find Chris on YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook!

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