If you’re trying for bschool, the GMAT is (usually) better.

We’ve covered this GRE vs GMAT question before but since it came up in the awesome Success Story from a military candidate recently, we wanted to backtrack and offer this advice again, with some additional nuances inspired by what that person said.

First of all, as a blanket statement (that we covered in greater detail in many prior posts), the GMAT is preferable over the GRE for those applying for an MBA program.

HOWEVER, blanket statements never apply to everyone. Sometimes they are too itchy for your taste, or they smother you and you feel like you’re suffocating, or they cover you up and make you look all lumpy and stuff.

To illustrate, here’s what the former Brave Supplicant said in the write-up of the process that led to their successful FIVE ADMITS:

After doing extensive research and self-analysis I quickly realized that the GRE was a better testing option for me.

So there’s proof! The schools accept a GRE in lieu of a GMAT, and submitting the GRE will not preclude you from getting in. Five schools said yes to this person with a GRE instead of a GMAT.

The key point to notice in that quote from the BSer though: The decision to do the GRE was made after much “research and self-analysis.”

You cannot make this super strategic decision on which test to take without understanding your own strengths, and figuring out how the separate tests work.

AND – we’ll state it again – you should be aware that some schools do have a (typically unstated or very vaguely worded) preference for the GMAT. This doesn’t mean they’ll refuse anyone simply because a GRE score was submitted with the app, but it’s something to keep in mind.

That being said: If you realize – perhaps through taking multiple practice tests on both exams – that you’re just better suited to the style of questions and the way the GRE is structured, and you can get a good score on the GRE whereas maybe the GMAT is not being so kind to you… THEN GO WITH THE GRE.

Again, make this decision only AFTER weighing the options. As one point of research: You must understand that the scores are calculated differently for the test, and the schools do not see them as equivalent, so you might need to do BETTER (comparatively speaking) on the GRE than you would on the GMAT, in order to show competency.

This isn’t always the case – it truly depends on the entirety of your profile and where you’re showing relative strength or weakness in skillset in other aspects of your candidacy.

But it does need to be taken into account.

So. BSers who read that story the other day and thought ‘Yes! The GRE is easier, I’ll go for that!”

Maybe that is indeed the right way to go for you.

Just make sure you look at it from all sides.

Shameless self-promotion: If you have a GRE score, we’ll dig into all the details of “is it good enough?” when you go through the Comprehensive Profile Review process with us.


  1. Bschool2013 says

    Also keep in mind, depending what you want to recruit for, some industries (i.e. consulting, banking) want to see a GMAT score on your resume. I don’t have any experience with this, but I’d imagine it’d be a tough sell to put a GRE score, no matter how good, when other candidates have a 700+ GMAT on the resume.

    • essaysnark says

      We thought that too when IR first came out but in recent months, we’ve seen more skepticism about its usefulness coming from adcoms after they’ve crunched the numbers for a few entering classes. Jury is still out on that. Doesn’t mean it’s not useful to employers though.

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