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GRE vs GMAT: What you Need to Know

 This article covers:
  • What is a GRE? What is a GMAT?
  • What is covered in the GRE and GMAT? Where can students take the GRE and GMAT?
  • How to simplify the ordering process, get discounts, and save with GRE vouchers?
  • How are GRE and GMAT scored? What is a good GRE or GMAT score?
  • Where to get training resources for GRE and GMAT?

Are your students planning to study abroad in a postgraduate program? While applying, they may be asked to submit standardized test scores. Two of the most widely accepted standardized tests by postgraduate programs are the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), especially for business and management, as well as many other programs.  

Test Overview 

The GRE and the GMAT are standardized entrance tests that measures a student’s readiness for graduate-level programs. Although some business schools also accept GRE scores, if your students are considering a future in consulting, management, or logistics, the GMAT is likely a better match. Both tests are accepted in many countries around the world such as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and many more. 


  • GRE: The GRE is one of the most widely accepted standardized test for graduate school or business school in English-speaking countries, and is accepted in over 90 countries. Applicants taking the GRE can choose between the GRE General Test or the GRE Subject Test. The GRE general test measures an applicant's general academic ability to think and communicate, while the GRE subject test looks at an applicant's knowledge in a specific domain and is meant for applicants with a strong background or undergraduate major in a specific STEM discipline.
  • GMAT: The GMAT is a standardized test for Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) applicants. According to the Graduate Management Admissions Council, more than 2,400 schools in 110 countries use the GMAT exam as part of the selection criteria for their programs. 

Curious about other entry tests your students may need to take for their study abroad applications? Click here to learn more about PTE, TOEFL, and IELTS.

GRE & GMAT Benefits 

In addition to providing schools with standardized test scores, taking the GRE or GMAT can have added academic, professional, and financial benefits for students who are planning to study at the graduate level.  

  • GRE: Admissions and fellowship committees use GRE results to complement undergraduate records, recommendation letters, and other applicant qualifications. Taking a GRE Subject Test can help your students stand out from other postgraduate candidates when applying to a competitive program. In addition, getting a good score on the GRE can bring further benefits, such as helping students receive scholarships or teaching assistant positions.
  • GMAT: Business schools see GMAT scores as a measure of future MBA student success because the GMAT looks at how students can apply their knowledge in real-world business situations. The GMAT evaluates problem-solving, logic, critical reasoning, and writing skills which contribute to an applicant’s success in business programs. 


    Test Score System

    There are two parts to the GRE and GMAT results. The first part is the score, which varies by test type, and the second part is a percentile ranking for each of the scores.

    The percentile ranking tells applicants and their prospective schools how well they scored compared to other test takers. So a score with a percentile ranking of 80, means the applicant scored higher than 80% of applicants and equally or lower than 20% of applicants. Note, that because rankings are recalculated every year and GRE/GMAT test scores are valid for multiple years, your student’s percentile may change over time. 

    • GRE: The raw GRE test score (number of questions answered correctly) is converted to a scaled score. Scaled scores are generally between 130 and 170 for the GRE General. For GRE Subject tests, the usual score range is between 320 and 990. 
    • GMAT: Applicants that have taken the GMAT test will receive scores for each of the four test sections, plus a total score. The total score is based on performance on the verbal and quantitative sections. Total scores for GMAT are reported in 10-point intervals from 200–800 (e.g. 500, 510, 520).  According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), two thirds of GMAT test-takers score between 400 and 800.

    Test Content 

      The GRE General and the GMAT are both adaptive, which means that the difficulty of future questions depends on how applicants do early in the test.  

      • GRE: The contents of GRE Subject tests vary by area of study (Chemistry, Physics, Math, or Psychology). The GRE General test contains three sections, including verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing.
      • GMAT: The GMAT contains four sections including analytical writing, integrated reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning. These sections evaluate the applicant's skills in critical thinking and communication, data analysis and information interpretation, numerical literacy and math as well as editing and reading comprehension.

      Wondering how the tests are structured, how to help your students prepare, and where to get GRE practice tests? Get more details and access GRE practice test questions on the GRE Subject Tests’ Content & Structure page

      Length & Format of Test

      • GRE: Applicants can complete the GRE General Test at a testing center as a paper-based test or as an at-home, computer-based test. The GRE takes about 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete. The GRE subject test is a paper based and is offered up to three times every year in September, October, and/or April. Testing times vary, so it is important to check with nearby test centers early to reserve spots.
      • GMAT: Applicants can complete the GMAT online or on computers at GMAT test centers. Students have up to 3 hours and 7 minutes to complete the test.

      Savings and Discounts on GRE vouchers 

      As their trusted advisor, you can make life easier for your students by providing them with a prepaid GRE voucher. ApplyBoard has partnered with Pearson and ETS to offer GRE, PTE, and TOEFL exam vouchers at up to 30% off. You can purchase test vouchers anytime online and give them to your students when they are in your office.

      Your students can then easily and safely redeem their vouchers online whenever they are ready to take the test. They will just need to create an account and book their exam for free, then use the voucher code at the checkout.

      Ready to save up to 30% on GRE applications and simplify the application process for your student? Click here to purchase vouchers now or click here to learn how to redeem GRE vouchers.

      Additional tips

      Whether your students are choosing the GRE general test, GRE subject test or GMAT, advise them to take the admissions test a few months before the intake date of their chosen program.

      This will allow time to prepare and retake the test if needed, especially if it’s a GRE Subject exam, so that your students can present their best score to prospective schools. Both the GRE and GMAT may be re-taken, but each attempt costs an exam fee, so be sure to use free online GMAT practice tests and resources to help your students prepare.

      In addition to standardized test scores, colleges and universities will also consider an applicant’s previous academic performance and work experience as part of the student’s application. To give your students the best chance of success, it’s important to research each program your students are applying to so you can understand the main program priorities.

      Some programs may care more about specific scores within the overall result, while more competitive programs may weigh all scores equally, and this will help you determine where to focus extra attention when training your students to maximize their chances of success.

      Interested in more postgraduate study abroad resources for your students? Check out our admissions guides for Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States!


      GRE General

      GRE subject 



      Standardized test for graduate school or business school 

      Standardized test for graduate programs in STEM disciplines

      Standardized test for Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) applicants


      3 hours and 45 minutes

      2 hours and 50 minutes

      3 hours and 7 minutes 


      Paper-based test at a testing center or at-home, computer-based test Paper-based
        Online or on computers at GMAT test centers


          1. Verbal reasoning
          2. Quantitative reasoning
          3. Analytical writing skills 

          Content varies by subject

          • Physics
          • Chemistry
          • Math
          • Psychology 
          1. Analytical Writing
          2. Integrated Reasoning
          3. Quantitative Reasoning
          4. Verbal Reasoning

          Average scores