GMAT vs GRE - Which is easier?

Sean Campbell
Sean Campbell
Last Updated: 11 April 2021 • 5 min read

The GMAT exam and the GRE exam are both graduate programme entrance tests. They’re pretty similar in many ways, and can be used for some of the same purposes. However, there are a few key differences between GMAT and GRE regarding their functionality, test content and difficulty level. 

We recently covered the GMAT exam in some depth

But in this article, we’re going to compare the two to help you decide which exam you should choose.  

In a nutshell: What is the GMAT exam?

GMAT stands for Graduate Management Aptitude Test. It’s exclusively intended for those who wish to study for an MBA abroad (Master of Business Administration), or other similar graduate management programmes. 

It tests a candidate in four key fields: Analytical Writing, Quantitative Aptitude, Verbal Reasoning, and Integrated Reasoning. 

In a nutshell: What is the GRE exam?

GRE stands for Graduate Record Examination. While it can be used by international students to gain entry to the majority of (but not all) MBA programmes, it can also be used for admission to a wider range of graduate programmes including a Master’s in Law, Juris Doctor (Doctor of Law) or a Doctoral Degree. 

GRE tests a candidate’s ability in three key fields: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reason, and Analytical Writing. 

GMAT vs GRE: What’s the difference?

The main difference between GMAT and GRE is the usability. While GMAT is used and accepted by all business schools to decide their admissions, GRE is more versatile. As mentioned above, it’s accepted by a lot of business schools for entry onto an MBA, but it can also help gain entry onto a host of other graduate and professional programmes. 

Both have sections on Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reason, and Analytical Writing. However, GMAT contains an additional section on Integrated Reasoning. 

Each can be completed all year round and are valid for 5 years after completion, and they’re pretty similar in price. GMAT usually costs US$250, while GRE costs US$205. They’re also both computer adaptive exams, which means that the difficulty of each question adapts to the level of your previous answer —answer strongly and get more difficult questions, leading to a higher overall score. 

Both tests are pretty lengthy too. GMAT takes 3 hours and 7 minutes, while GRE takes 3 hours and 35 minutes. Strap yourself in for the long haul!

GRE vs GMAT test structure

Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)

In GMAT, this takes the form of a single 30 minute essay. In GRE, there are 2 essays here, with a total time of 60 minutes. 

Integrated Reasoning (IR)

GRE has no IR section, but GMAT has 12 questions which you have 30 minutes to complete. 

Quantitative Reasoning (QR)

GMAT’s QR section is made up of 31 questions, for which you’ll have 61 minutes to answer. GRE’s QR assessment comes in 2 sections, each comprising 20 questions. You’ll have 70 minutes to complete both sections. 

Verbal Reasoning (VR)

GMAT’s VR assessment has just one section of 36 questions with a 65 minute time limit. GRE on the other hand has two sections, each with 20 questions, and a 60 minute total time limit to complete both sections. 

GMAT vs GRE - Which is easier? 

Here’s the TL;DR version—Many people believe GRE is easier overall, but the GMAT is considered easier to study for!

But what on earth does that mean?? Let’s break the GRE vs GMAT debate down:

Each test has some more difficult sections and some easier sections, so the easiest one for you will depend on your own abilities, strengths and area of confidence. Let’s take a closer look:

Math difficulty

The mathematical (quantitative) questions on the GMAT exam are generally considered to be more advanced, thus more suited to people with strong math skills. However, the GMAT quantitative section contains more logical mathematical problems, whereas the GRE has more geometry based questions. So, the easiest one or the one you’re best at. Happier with logic than geometry? The “harder” GMAT test might be for you. 

Language difficulty

The GRE exam is actually considered to contain many more difficult, uncommon words, phrases and terminologies. This means that the verbal aspect of the test can be more of a challenge for non-native English speakers, even those with a strong vocabulary. 

Here’s a quick tip though: Simply search “GRE vocab list” and have a look through the results. If you feel you can handle that level of vocabulary, then you’ll be okay!

Study materials availability

Things get interesting here, as even though many would claim that the GRE is easier in some ways, it’s actually easier to study for the GMAT! This is because there are more study materials available for the GMAT. Although both have plenty of unofficial study materials for both the GMAT and the GRE, the former has 6 official practice exams. The GRE makers have created just 5 official practice exams. It’s not a huge difference, but it could make a difference. 

GRE vs GMAT: Which should I choose?

The general consensus says that if you’re focused on applying for business schools only, then GMAT is your best choice. 

If you’d like to keep your options open however, and have more choice of graduate programmes, then GRE will serve you better. 

However, do consider which school you’d like to attend and check if they accept your chosen exam. And of course, choosing the one you feel you’ll perform better in would also be a good idea! 

We’ll assume since you’re reading this that you’re interested in studying abroad, right? Well that’s what we do here at Edvoy— we match international students with top notch universities and courses all over the English speaking world! We can help you find your perfect course. By the way, if you’re considering applying to a university, you’ll need a strong Statement of Purpose -- luckily we’ve also written a great guide to the SOP here.

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Sean Campbell
Written By
Sean Campbell

Sean is a writer, copywriter & editor from Ireland.


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