The test-acceptance landscape has changed! Now the GRE is just fine for any top MBA program. You still need to show competence with it of course! And the schools know that it's easier than the GMAT. There are still some cases where the GMAT is probably better but the advice in this post does not apply in the same way any longer.
>So we could’ve predicted it. We got the question right after our post last week: “What about ME? I’m unique and special and these are all my circumstances and in that case isn’t it OK for ME to take the GRE instead of the GMAT?”
And yes, we have to admit, for one certain type of applicant, it is perfectly acceptable to take the GRE: If you’re applying to multiple graduate programs beyond just the standard MBA.
If you’ve laid out a path for your future that allows for a few different avenues of possibility — in other words, if you’ve realized that maybe you might want to do this, or that, and some other thing, and you’re not quite sure — and those other avenues would include a different flavor of graduate school to earn a different type of Master’s degree that isn’t an MBA, then typically, those other programs will ask for a GRE score. In which case, it makes perfect sense for you to JUST take the GRE and submit it with your applications to bschool and these other programs.
If you do that, you probably would want to explain this somehow in your bschool app.
And, if you do THAT, then you run the risk of maybe sounding like you don’t really know what you want to do with your life (and remember how important career goals are?).
The MBA is a pretty specific education/career track. It’s tried and true and well proven to pump out qualified (hopefully!) graduates skilled in the ways of business. Employers know what to expect from MBA graduates: they are ready for business. Typically, it works to the applicant’s favor to know what they want from a graduate education BEFORE they apply.
Many other Master’s programs are actually more designed for academics — some of them seem to be stepping-stones to a PhD program — and in lots of cases they’re not as much geared for the practical as they are for perhaps the intellectual or scholarly pursuit. You know, like, research and stuff.
You do realize, don’t you, that most Master’s programs require their graduates to write a thesis? There isn’t a single MBA program out there that does. Unless you count the *optional* thesis at MIT, which then earns you a Master of Science in Management. Not an MBA. Different degree. (Figures that MIT would offer this option. Propeller-heads.)
Note, too, that many business-like graduate programs actually accept the GMAT, too (along with the GRE that is their traditional purview) because they realize the overlap of candidates. One example is the Duke Master of Management Studies. Another is the NYU Mathematics in Finance M.S. (EssaySnark has helped clients with applications to all manner of graduate programs. EssaySnark gets around.)
We are absolutely not knocking the academic track. We very much appreciate those who dedicate their life to furthering the body of knowledge and advancing humanity in whatever realm or domain that lights them up.
BUT. There is a very big difference between going to bschool (inherent goal: to launch a specific future career) and going to some other type or flavor of graduate school (inherent goal: any number of things). You’ll need to be sure you don’t muddy your message or give the adcom reason to doubt your commitment to the whole bschool thing if you go down this path.
The one other situation where it makes total sense to just take the GRE: If you’re still in college. While we think that’s actually a brilliant time to get the GMAT out of the way, we also don’t expect you, young whippersnapper that you are, to have all your career goals and plans worked out just yet. The GRE makes perfect sense if you’re a junior, and easily qualifies you to apply to the HBS 2+2 program if you’re so interested. (Remember though, they only accept true superstars, so make sure you’ve got the stuff.)