Choosing the Right Test for Your MBA Application

This MBA Insider content comes from the Texas McCombs MBA Admissions team.

So, you’ve decided that you want to apply for an MBA. Congratulations on making a fantastic decision!  But, now what?

One of the first application components that prospective students typically focus on is that dreaded standardized test.  It can be an intimidating first step. Where do you even begin? If you’ve researched our program,  you already know that the Texas MBA Program accepts both GRE and GMAT…so how do you know which exam is right for you?

First things first: The Admissions Committee doesn’t care which test you take. Honestly! We do not have a preference of exam, and do not believe that one test is better at demonstrating your preparedness for business school than the other.

Now that that’s out of the way, it’s important to think about what exam is best for you. In some cases, there may be a reason to consider taking the GMAT over the GRE, or vice versa.


The GMAT is looked at by most large consulting and investment banking companies because they use your score as a baseline qualifier for the recruiting process.  If consulting or i-banking are in your sights, this means that the GMAT is the best choice because then you could take it once and use your score for both your MBA application as well as your career recruitment profile.

In addition, some recruiters outside the i-banking and consulting space may not have a strong preference either way, but they may have more experience assessing skill sets based on the GMAT.  If you choose to take the GRE, you should understand that it is less common among b-school students and therefore makes it more difficult for recruiters to compare your GRE score against the majority of applicants who take the GMAT.

The Fine Print: Not all consulting and investment banking firms look at your GMAT – boutique consulting firms, for example, typically do not ask for your score. So, this is not a one-size-fits-all rule, but is something to consider if those industries are of interest to you.


Sometimes, the GRE is the best choice for those applicants who are pursuing their MBAs in conjunction with another Masters degrees, i.e. our dual degree programs. Taking only the GRE allows you to apply to both programs separately with one score, a convenience factor that most dual degree applicants very much appreciate given how much more paperwork is required to submit applications for two programs.

The Fine Print: Some dual degree programs may require another test entirely – for example, the LSAT for MBA/JD degree (in addition to the GMAT or GRE), so again…not one rule applies to everyone.


Don’t qualify as an applicant pursuing consulting/i-banking/dual degree?  There are still some key differences in the tests that may have some bearing on your decision for which to take. A little history lesson: MBA programs only started accepting the GRE as an alternative to the GMAT within the last decade. Alumni and hiring companies are simply more familiar with the GMAT and its score scale. With the GRE newer on the scene, they may need clarification regarding what the GRE score actually means and how the quantitative and verbal score sections may translate to the GMAT scores they are used to.

The Fine Print: The number of GRE scores received by our admissions office has slowly increased over the past several application cycles. So while the GMAT is still the prevalent exam within the MBA applicant pool, the GRE is becoming slightly more common. Thus, the tide may be shifting as more alumni and companies become comfortable with GRE scores.

If you don’t fall into any of these buckets and are still trying to decide what exam is best for you, take some practice tests! There’s a chance you may be more comfortable with one test format over the other.  At the end of day, the choice of which exam to take is yours. Build in study time, and leave yourself enough room on the calendar to retake an exam if necessary. (In other words, don’t wait until the last minute to crack open that GMAT prep book!) It’s not a good idea to schedule your first exam appointment the day before a deadline. You want to submit that application as confidently as possible, and with a score you feel good about.

Choose wisely and good luck!


  1. This is a useful article, indeed.
    Do the admissions folks at Mccombs have a range of acceptable (desirable) GRE scores by subject?

    Thank you,

    • Kimberly Jones

      March 1, 2018 at 12:18 pm

      Hi Eli,

      Thank you for your question. 16% of our MBA Class of 2019 took the GRE. The average quantitative score was 158 and the average verbal was 159 for these students. There is no preferred score or minimum since our application evaluation process is a holistic process. I recommend checking out this post for more info.

      If you have additional questions, please reach out to us!

  2. Hi there,

    What is minimum score (total score) of GMAT for MBA class?



    • Kimberly Jones

      April 2, 2018 at 11:40 am

      Hi Steven,

      Thank you for your question. There is no preferred score or minimum since our application evaluation is a holistic process. The average score for the class of 2019 was 703, which can give you an idea of our class make-up. More info on our most recent class, can be found here:

      If you have additional questions, please reach out at

      • Thank you for the reply, Kimberly.

        Unfortunately I received an “Error 404” when I clicked the link in your post. If I might follow up here: If an applicant were to take the GRE twice – receiving a 167V/157Q and subsequently a 163V/160Q. How would the applicant report the scores?


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