Despite some great resources out there (my book!) that can help business school applicants prepare for the GMAT, some people are still terrified of the test. If you are one of those people and despite your very best efforts you just can’t seem to reach the score you want, there is an alternative. No, I’m not talking about going to a school that doesn’t even require the GMAT. You aren’t going to escape that easily. If you want to go to a school that will give you a return on your investment, you are still going to have to take a standardized test. What I’m talking about is the GRE!
The GRE is a test that is generally taken by students who wish to go into graduate programs in social sciences, humanities, arts, and natural sciences. It is similar to the GMAT in that it consists of essays, verbal questions, and quantitative questions. It is also taken under time constraints and is computer adaptive. However, the GRE offers an on-screen calculator and the ability to skip back and forth among the questions in a section. The GRE also uses quantitative comparison questions instead of data sufficiency, and vocabulary questions in place of sentence correction. Over 700 business schools are now accepting the GRE in place of the GMAT.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that you can score more because you are taking a test that might be easier for you. ETS, the company responsible for the GRE, has developed an extensive tool that enables schools to make a proper comparison of GRE versus GMAT scores to ensure that no one gets an advantage by selecting one test over the other. And, of course, opting for the GRE does not influence your GPA, work experience, recommendations, and all of the other factors that determine whether a school will accept you. In addition, almost 30 percent of schools that accept the GRE openly admit that all else being equal, a candidate who took the GMAT will be admitted over a candidate who took the GRE. One final consideration, some business schools offer scholarships based on test scores, or a combination of test scores and GPA. Those scholarships are generally linked only to GMAT scores, so if you took the GRE, you will be ineligible for consideration.
My advice? Stick with the GMAT. With dedication and practice, you can get the score you want. If you do think you’d like to take the GRE instead, just be sure you do your research first so that you don’t place yourself at a disadvantage before anyone has even had time to consider what a great addition you might be to a class.
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