GMAT vs GRE – What are business schools saying?

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GMAT vs GRE – What are business schools saying?

According to a recent survey by Kaplan, 85 percent of MBA programs now accept GRE scores as the standardized test component on their applications. This represents a dramatic increase from five years ago when only 24 percent of programs accepted the exam.

It’s now clear that the GRE is here to stay, but what’s been less clear is how business schools view the exam. Most admission consultants will tell you that despite the widespread adoption of the GRE, business schools still prefer applicants who take the GMAT. In the more than 50 years that the GMAT has been the required entrance exam for business school, programs have built an understanding of how GMAT scores correlate to student success during and after their curriculum. This breadth of data is not available for the GRE.

Despite this, 78 percent of schools view the two tests equally as reported in the same survey. At least in their statements to the public, the majority of schools say that an applicant who submits a GRE score is treated no differently than an applicant who submits a GMAT score.

HBS and Stanford Business School lead “test agnosticism”

Harvard Business School has stated numerous times that it treats each test the same. “We’ve said for a while now that not only do we accept both tests, but we are agnostic about our preference,” wrote HBS director of admissions Dee Leopold.

“We care less about the overall score than we do about the components. And we look at the subscores in the context of the candidate’s profile,” she added in a recent blog post.

In 2014, a little over 1,000 HBS applicants chose to submit a GRE score compared to over 8,000 students who submitted GMAT scores (140 applicants submitted both a GRE and GMAT score). However, the acceptance rate for GRE and GMAT takers differed by 3 percent (7 percent acceptance for GRE compared to 10 percent for GMAT).

Stanford Business School also states affirmatively that they have no preference for one test over the other, echoing the sentiment of many other U.S. business schools.

GMAT preference does exists

However, while most programs seek to distance themselves from the GMAT vs. GRE debate, 18 percent of schools reported on the survey that they prefer students to take the GMAT. Most notably, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business advises on their admission website that while they accept both exams, they recommend applicants to take the GMAT.

In addition to the accumulation of GMAT data, admission consultants point to the GMAT’s more robust math component as another reason why some schools side with the GMAT. Since the GRE is intended for students applying to a range of graduate programs, many of which require little to no math, its quantitative section is considered less challenging.

If you’re deciding which test you should take, check the websites of the programs you plan to apply to or call the schools directly to get their official take on the exams. To learn more about the differences between the two exams and how to convert scores from the GRE to the GMAT or vice versa, check out this post. You can also find a complete list of business schools that accept the GRE on ETS’s MBA page.


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