Here’s the thing: For most people, the GRE math is easier. It just is.
Both the GMAT and the GRE are tough tests. But the GMAT is at least a tiny bit tougher.
Plus, the GMAT has the Integrated Reasoning, which isn’t really any harder than any other part of the test (some people even kind of like the IR questions), but even if you’re a whiz at them, you still need to study and prepare.
All the schools now will accept the GRE interchangeably with the GMAT. They claim that there is no difference in applying with one versus the other. Some schools are even directly encouraging you to take the test that you will do better on. Meaning the GRE, in many cases.
We still see people with a higher GMAT score have an advantage when it comes to the most competitive admissions environments.
This is totally a category where it’s case by case.
What pool are you in? Who are you competing with? What do the other candidates who are “like you” look like on paper? Are they applying with GMATs or GREs? What types of scores are they scoring? If you have a GRE, is your score high enough?
These are questions that you probably don’t know the answer to, and certainly, no admissions person will tell you. (Shameless self-promotion: EssaySnark can tell you! It’s what our Comprehensive Profile Review was designed explicitly for.)
It also depends on what your test history is (which test(s) have you taken, what were the scores, what of those were canceled) and when you’re applying.
If you dread any standardized test and have not started studying at all, and you’re kind of nervous and scared about how all this will play out, then seeing as it’s only May and you have at least some window of time within which to operate: Take practice tests for both exams.
If you feel more confident with the GRE, then go with the GRE.
If you’ve already taken the GMAT and are thinking of switching to the GRE because you think you can do better, that is a more complicated situation.
We cannot be definitive and make any declarative statements in this post that would be accurate and viable for everybody. We would need to look at the specifics of your profile, your test profile, your GPA, your set of schools, and talk to that. (Which we absolutely do in our personal and private and tailored-for-you Comprehensive Profile Review, in case that would be useful for you.)
What we can say is that we still encourage BSers to go for the GMAT if they are able to.
If you’ve already started studying for the GRE, then does it make sense to ditch that and switch to the GMAT? Well….. again, the answer is “it depends.” If it were already July and you asked us, we’d say no. We’d say, get cranking on your GRE test prep and nail that GRE test, and get it done soon, because there will be essays to write soon, and you don’t want to try tag-teaming both of those tasks simultaneously.
But seeing as we’re still here in springtime, if you have any inkling that you could do decent to well on the GMAT, we encourage you to buckle down and make that test happen.
Will a GRE score be any type of deficit on your app? Will it keep you out if everything else is in tiptop shape and impressive?
Oh gosh no. Absolutely not.
Will a GMAT score smooth the skids a bit and possibly help you over a hurdle that the GRE could not?
At most places, no — but at some schools, a resounding yes to that.
Again, it depends, and it also entirely depends on what score you have in your hot little hand. This is very difficult to even discuss with hypotheticals.
Most schools have only started releasing class data including GRE scores in the past year, and we’ll be on the lookout for trends that may start to arise as more adcoms are increasingly transparent. Right now NYU, Yale, and Harvard are leading the charge in what they publish on GMAT and GRE too.
In the interim, you can dig through the ‘snarchives in our GMAT and GRE category of posts to see what else we have stated on this. This is one area where things are changing, and in the ancient past there was no grey areas, this was a black-and-white issue where the GMAT alone was the ruler. That has changed just lately but how much it may change or where the averages will end up is an unanswered question. We’ll be on the lookout for whatever we can share about this to help you navigate this critical strategic decision.
Whichever test you choose, please don’t shirk your responsibilities. Buckle down and do the hard work of studying — as if your life depends on it! Because in all honesty, truly it does.*
*not your literal life, but the options that are made available to you in the future as you go through this application experience