Life is all about choices. Lease or buy? Diet versus regular? GRE or the GMAT? But when personal preference for aspartame doesn’t immediately establish you firmly in one camp or another, it’s time to stop and think what the choice says about you. When it comes to choosing between taking the GRE or the GMAT for your MBA application, how do you choose the right test for you?
In this post, I won’t address the logistical implications of each exam (such as the GRE is cheaper and offered at more locations and the GMAT is accepted at more business schools so it’s more bang for your buck.) Nope, not going to go there. You can Google yourself silly with all of their basic differences. Instead, I will address choosing the test from an admissions perspective, assuming you’re planning on submitting an application to the Texas MBA Program sometime soon.
Basic case in point: the Admission Committee doesn’t care which test you take. Ultimately it’s up to you. We don’t believe intrinsically the opinion that one test is better at demonstrating your preparedness for b-school than the other because we believe that standardized test scores are not the only thing on your application that illustrate your academic abilities. If it were used alone, perhaps the more traditional approach of using the GMAT would suffice, but it’s not. We use many, many other things. But that’s a whole other post.
Much like other choices you make on your application, if you choose wrong you can put yourself in a position of unnecessary disadvantage. We realize the tests are different and applicants choose each for varied and valid reasons, therefore we couldn’t have a preference at face value. However, what we DO prefer is that you think hard about which test you need to take within the context of your overall goals.
CHOOSING BETWEEN THE GMAT AND THE GRE DEPENDING ON YOUR…
The GMAT is required for most 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 you could take it once and use your score for both your Admissions application as well as your career recruitment profile.
Additionally, some recruiters outside the I-Banking and Consulting space may not have a strong preference either way which test you take, however they may have more experience assessing skill set based on the GMAT. If you choose to take the GRE you should understand that it is less common and therefore makes it more difficult for recruiters to compare these results against the majority of applicants that take the GMAT.
Sometimes, the GRE is the best choice for those applicants who are pursuing their MBAs in conjunction with another Masters, like in our Dual Degree programs. Once again, 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.
PERCEPTION OF TEST REPUTATION
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 over the last few years.
Alumni and hiring companies are more familiar with the GMAT and its score scale. With the GRE new 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.
MBA Admissions Officers are also new to the GRE setting. However, many of us have worked with the test and have recruited amazing candidates to our programs since we started accepting it a few years ago and are more comfortable assessing verbal and quantitative skill sets based on those scores.
So ultimately, which test is best? Our advice is to choose wisely using your academic and career goals and knowledge of each test’s reputation in both the admissions context and the professional world to make the best choice for you. If none of the above circumstances speak to your situation, then truly you are free to pick the exam you prefer. Either way, we say “good luck!”