Many business schools now accept either the GRE or the GMAT, so students now have a decision to make: which test should you take? We’ve written on the topic before but this discussion deserves an update now that some changes to the GMAT are gaining more traction.
Both tests made some significant changes in the past couple of years. These changes were designed to make the test results more attractive to their customers—not you, but the business schools.
The conventional wisdom has been that the math is easier on the GRE. Though many schools do accept the GRE, rumors abound that students who take this test are at a bit of a disadvantage because they are expected to do better on the (easier) quant section. Anecdotally, we have heard some admissions officers admit that they do think about this (strictly off the record, of course). Other admissions officers, though, have said this doesn’t matter to them at all.
Recently, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that Bain & Co, a well-respected management consulting firm, is considering using Integrated Reasoning scores in its hiring process. Most banks and consulting firms already ask for the “regular” GMAT score when recruiting MBA candidates (and sometimes they even ask for your SAT scores!). If these companies begin to require IR, then someone who took the GRE could find themselves at a disadvantage during the hiring process—or even scrambling to take the GMAT during the second year of b-school while going through recruiting. Yikes!
So this question of whether to take the GMAT or the GRE has become a much more complicated calculus of a decision. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, but here are some guidelines to consider as you figure out the right decision for you.
Do you actually exhibit a markedly different performance level on the two exams? Most people have pretty similar results.
To figure this out, you’re going to take two practice tests (one of each). Before you do that, learn about the different question formats on both exams.
Quant: about half of the questions are your standard multiple choice. The other half are a weird type called Data Sufficiency. You’ll definitely want to learn how those work before you take a practice test (your next task).
Verbal: if you’ve ever taken a standardized test before, then you’ll be very familiar with Reading Comprehension questions. Critical Reasoning questions are similar, but much shorter, and the questions are more argument-based (how to strengthen or weaken a conclusion, for example). Sentence Correction questions require knowledge of grammar and meaning. You don’t need to study that yet, but you should just learn how the question type works.
In a nutshell, you’ll be given a sentence with a portion underlined. The first answer, (A), will repeat whatever was underlined. The other 4 answers will offer different variations for that underlined text. Only one is correct!
Essay: you don’t need to prep for this before your first practice test.
Integrated Reasoning: these questions combine math and verbal topics in four new question formats that you probably won’t have seen before. You’ll definitely want to investigate those a bit before your practice test, just to see how each one works. Here are some example problems: Continue Reading…