As a prospective graduate business school applicant, you may have to approach and learn about at least one of the commonly required aptitude tests for admission – GMAT and GRE.

In this article, we have compiled the essential details about these exams to help you in your decision and initial stages of preparation. Whether this is the first time you have heard about GMAT and GRE or you are simply filling in some gaps in your knowledge, you may find the information useful.

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GRE General Test Overview

Although there are GRE Subject Tests, which can be taken when applying for very particular fields of study such as Biology or Maths, Masters programmes in business and management typically require the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) General Test. This test, which is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), measures your ability to handle graduate school level work through Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing questions. Graduate school admissions committees use your score to gauge your abilities and compare them to those of other business school applicants.

Read more about the tests measuring English language proficiency required for graduate school admission.

The Verbal Reasoning section contains three types of questions – Reading Comprehension, Text Completion, and Sentence Equivalence. The Quantitative Reasoning questions are of four different types, being Quantitative Comparison, two types of multiple-choice questions, and Numeric Entry questions. Finally, in the Analytical Writing section of the GRE, test takers are to complete two separately timed writing tasks.

The GRE General Test can be taken either on a computer or on paper. When taken on a computer, it is important to note that the GRE is computer-adaptive. What does that mean? During the test, you will see one question at a time and you must answer each in order to move on to the next question. The first question will be of average difficulty. The computer will then select subsequent questions based on whether you got the first one right or wrong. The exam will continue in this way until you have seen the required mix of concepts and question types. In the case of the paper-delivered test, answers are simply entered directly into the test book.

Read: What is the GRE test?

When taking the GRE on a computer, there are several features which could be useful for test takers. During the exam, people can skip questions and return to them later if they still have time left for that particular section. They can also change their answers as long as they are within the current section.

The computer-delivered format has a testing time of about three hours and 45 minutes, while the paper-delivered test has to be completed within the shorter period of time of about three hours and 30 minutes. When it comes to scoring, the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections of the GRE are both scored on a 130-170 point scale, while the Analytical Writing section is scored from 0 to 6.

More specific information regarding test fees and registration can be found on the official website of the GRE test.

GMAT Overview

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). GMAT scores are a useful guide for admissions committees in comparing the level of skills and potential for success of business school applicants from widely varying backgrounds. It is designed to help graduate business schools assess the qualifications of applicants for advanced study in business and management. Of course, aptitude test scores are only one predictor of academic performance in the first year of graduate management school.

Similarly to the GRE, the GMAT is also a standardised test – one that is entirely delivered on a computer.

Read: What is the GMAT exam?

The GMAT measures general verbal, mathematical, and analytical writing skills that have developed over a long period of time. Contrary to what some prospective test takers think, it does not test your business competence, nor specific subject knowledge.

There are four sections in the exam – Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA aka “essay”), Integrated Reasoning (IR), Quantitative Reasoning, and Verbal Reasoning. The Quantitative section consists of Data Sufficiency and Problem Solving questions, while the Verbal section includes Sentence Correction, Reading Comprehension, and Critical Reasoning questions. The Verbal and Quantitative sections are multiple choice and computer adaptive. For the Analytical Writing section of the test, you will be presented with one writing task and you will type your response using the computer keyboard.

As for the Integrated Reasoning section, this is a fairly recent addition to the exam. Introduced in 2012, the section replaced one of the two 30-minute essay questions at the time. It is a non-adaptive section and it includes four types of questions – Multi-Source Reasoning, Table Analysis, Graphics Interpretation, and Two-Part Analysis.

The exam takes just under three hours and 30 minutes to complete, including two optional breaks. GMAT takers also have the flexibility of choosing the order of the sections on the test day itself. The total score range is 200-800, with two thirds of test takers scoring between 400 and 600, according to GMAC. Verbal and Quantitative scores range from 0 to 60; scores for the AWA range from 0 to 6; and IR scores range from 1 to 8.

You can find more information regarding test fees and registration on the official website of the GMAT.

Knowing the format and structure of these exams and using certain strategies to address them can significantly increase your final score. Targeted preparation is the key to your success, so plan well ahead. You may need to refresh or improve your knowledge in maths and/or English grammar and vocabulary before you focus on mastering test-taking strategies. Ultimately, a high GMAT or GRE score always makes a difference in applications for admission and scholarships.