20% increase in GRE Test takers, Read why it is preferred over Traditional GMAT

GMAT and GRE are the two most sought after exams to pursue MBA from abroad. More than 12,000 colleges accept GRE or GMAT scores for business programs. One of the advantages of choosing GRE over GMAT is that GRE scores are accepted for varied graduate school programs whereas the GMAT score is only used for management programs. One can use the formers’ score for various other programs along with an MBA.

  • As per the data released by ETS, over 10 lakh Indian students appeared for GRE, taking it to a 20% increase in the number of takers for GRE.
  • Significant growth was seen in Business (18%), Physical Sciences (13%) and Engineers graduates (11%).
  • As per the data released by GMAC, 32,514 Indian students appeared for the GMAT test bringing a 5% rise in the past five years.

Before applying for any business school, it is advisable that you check the list of exams accepted. Here, in this article, we have tried to provide a comparative analysis that can help you in choosing the best-suited exam to pursue a degree from a foreign university.

GRE (Graduate Record Examination)

GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is conducted by ETS (Educational Testing Service) to assess students applying for post-graduate courses. GRE scores are accepted by all universities across the world, including top rankers such as Harvard Business School and Columbia. The increase in the acceptance of the GRE score for MBA programs is bringing it in competition with the traditional GMAT.

US is one of the most prominent study-abroad destinations with its management schools first starting the business of accepting GRE scores for management programs. Currently, most of the top-notch universities of the US accept GRE scores. The score may range from 160 – 168.

Besides the US, Canada is another country that accepts GRE scores and is also favored by many Indian students. At present, around 27 universities in Canada accept GRE scores. The average GRE score required to get into Canadian universities lies between 150 and 165.

Europe has under its umbrella some of the most excellent world business schools that accept GRE scores. Over 50 business schools across France, UK, Spain, and Italy accept GRE scores. The average GRE score for admission falls in the range of 160-165.

The increase in the acceptance of the GRE score for MBA programs is bringing it in competition with the traditional GMAT.

GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test)

GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is conducted by GMAC (Graduate Management Admission Council) for students applying to MBA programs. It is designed in a way, specifically for business and management studies, to assess the analytical writing and critical reasoning ability.

Candidate Demographic TY 2013 TY 2014 TY 2015 TY2016 TY 2017 Five Year Growth Rate
Total GMAT Exams 25,268 28,325 29,042 33,123 32,514 +6.5%
Women 6,650 7,771 8,312 9,964 9,929 +10.5%
Candidates Younger than 25 9,718 11,547 11,482 12,514 11,922 +5.2%
Total Score < 600 12,309 14,042 13,950 16,039 14,959 +5.0%
Total Score

600 – 690

9,214 10,253 10,816 12,283 12,447 +7.8%
Total Score 700+ 3,745 4,030 4,276 4,801 5,108 +8.1%

Source: GMAT Geographic Trend Report 2018

Note**The GMAT pattern changed on April 16, 2018. The Quantitative Reasoning Section was reduced from 37 questions (75 minutes) to 31 questions (62 minutes). The Verbal Reasoning Section was reduced from 41 questions (75 minutes) to 36 questions (65 minutes). The overall exam time was reduced from 4 hours to 3.5 hours (including breaks and instructions) by reducing the number of unscored questions used for research on the exam.

GMAT exam patternHow is GRE different from GMAT?

GRE can get you admission for your master’s degree into any graduate and business schools whereas GMAT can get you enrolled for master’s into business schools. Both exams are computer-based, but a slight difference lies between the two. Where GMAT is a computer adaptive test, GRE is a section adaptive test. In GMAT, each question is based on the answer to the previous question; if your answer is correct, the difficulty level of the next question increases. If your answer is incorrect, the next question might be easier.

In GRE, the questions in a section remain constant. Depending upon the performance in the two sections i.e. verbal and quantitative, the difficulty level (easy, medium, or hard) of the other two sets will be decided.

Consists of two sections- Verbal and Quantitative. Consists of two sections- Verbal and Quantitative.
-60 minutes analytical writing section with two essays of 30 minutes each. 30 minutes analytical section with one essay.
Duration of the exam is 3.5 hours on paper and 3.75 hours on computer. 30 minutes integrated reasoning section.
The cost of registering for GRE is $195. Analytical and integrated section scores are calculated separately and not in the total GMAT scores.
Score range is from 200 up to 800 points, with 10 pt increments.
Duration of the exam is 3.5 hours.
The cost of registering for GMAT is $250.

 Both GRE and GMAT scores are valid for 5 years.

To get a deeper understanding of the differences between the two tests GRE and GMAT, we need to analyse the content of these examinations section-wise. 

Verbal Section


  • Sentence equivalence

It tests the ability to understand between the lines, words, interrelationships, sentences, and texts. Questions asked consists of a single sentence with one blank and six options. You need to choose two options.

  • Reading comprehension

It tests the ability of situational analysis and decision making. The questions will be MCQs with five answer choices, out of which you need to select one.

  • Text completion

It tests your interpretation and evaluation ability. The questions are in the form of passage with five options and you need to select one.


  • Sentence correction

It tests grammar and communication skills. The questions are asked in sentence form, wherein a part of the sentence is underlined and you have to choose the right phrase from the five options.

  • Reading comprehension

It tests the ability of situational analysis and decision making. Questions will be based on the passage and you need to choose the right answer.

  • Critical reasoning

It tests reasoning skills. You will have to understand and analyze a situation and choose the correct option.

The major difference between the two tests in this section is that GRE tests vocabulary, whereas the GMAT focuses on grammar.

Quantitative Section

In the quant section, the course content is the same for both exams, only the question format is different.


In GRE, the quantitative section is divided into 4 categories:

  • Quantitative comparison questions
  • Multiple-choice Questions – One Answer Choice
  • Multiple-choice Questions – One or More Answers Choice
  • Numeric Entry questions


In GMAT, the quantitative section is divided into 2 categories:

  • Problem-solving
  • Data sufficiency

However, Maths in GMAT is challenging than the one in GRE. Also, while GRE allows you to choose from multiple-choice questions, GMAT tests your problem-solving skills.

Time/Section analysis

It is necessary to understand how much time approximately can a section consumes in order to plan your time while attempting the test. Therefore, a time-section analysis is given below.


  • The total time for the GRE test is 3 hours 45 minutes (including short breaks).
  • The most time consuming is the quantitative section which can take approximately 75 minutes.
  • Next comes the analytical writing and verbal reasoning which can take around 60 minutes each.
  • The research and the unscored sections can take up to 30-35 minutes each.


  • The total time for GMAT test is 3 hours 30 minutes (including short breaks).
  • The most time consuming is the quantitative section and verbal section which can take approximately 75 minutes each.
  • The analytical writing assessment and integrated reasoning can take up to 30 minutes each.

In general, one can conclude that GMAT suits those who are good with numbers and reasoning skills, who understand data better and can interpret easily to solve complex problems.

The GRE math is straight-forward, whereas, in GMAT, a calculator is required to solve every problem. Also, if one is still unsure about the program to choose, GRE is a better option as it can be used to apply for different master programs.

In order to choose which exam you should go for, first you need to understand the format and the skills demanded by each examination. Then you can attempt practice tests that are available online. The practice tests help you make self-assessment in a better manner. Getting into a business school is difficult, for which you cannot ignore the complexities behind these tests. You need to take every step with utmost awareness, keeping in mind your goals and capabilities.

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