When considering studying abroad, standardised tests play a crucial role in the application process. Two of the most widely recognized exams for international students are the SAT and the GRE.
These tests are designed to assess an individual's academic abilities and aptitude, but they differ significantly in their purpose, content, and target audience.
In this article, we will delve deeper into the differences between the SAT and GRE, exploring their unique characteristics, the areas they assess, and how they are scored.
Table of Contents
- Overview: What is the difference between the SAT and GRE
- Comparison between SAT and GRE
- SAT vs GRE: Difficulty level
- How to choose the right test: SAT vs GRE
- Top universities for GRE General Test vs GRE Subject Test
- Frequently asked questions
Overview: What is the difference between the SAT and GRE
The SAT and GRE are standardised tests designed to evaluate different academic levels and serve different purposes.
The SAT is typically taken by high school students and emphasises knowledge and skills acquired during secondary education, the GRE is designed for individuals pursuing graduate-level education and focuses on higher-order thinking and advanced subject knowledge.
The SAT assesses readiness for undergraduate study, while the GRE evaluates preparedness for graduate or business school programs. The content, format, and scoring scales of the two tests reflect these differences, catering to the specific needs and expectations of each academic level.
Comparison between SAT and GRE
SAT and GRE are both standardised tests, but they serve different purposes and target different academic levels.
The SAT focuses on the fundamental skills acquired during high school education, testing a student's knowledge in areas such as reading comprehension, grammar, algebra, geometry, and data analysis. It aims to assess a student's readiness for college-level work.
In contrast, the GRE delves deeper into advanced concepts and skills relevant to graduate-level study. It examines a test-taker's ability to comprehend complex texts, apply logical reasoning, interpret data, and construct well-reasoned arguments.
Also read: GMAT vs GRE for MBA admissions
The SAT is a paper-based test that is divided into multiple sections, with set time limits for each section. Students move through the sections in a linear fashion, completing the required questions within the allotted time.
On the other hand, the GRE can be taken either on paper or computer, depending on the location and administration. It is a computer-adaptive test, meaning that the difficulty of questions adjusts based on the test-taker's performance. As the test progresses, the computer algorithm adapts the subsequent questions to the test-taker's ability level.
The SAT consists of three main sections: Evidence-Based Reading, Writing and Language, and Math.
- The Evidence-Based Reading section tests a student's ability to comprehend and analyse passages from various subjects, including literature, social sciences, and natural sciences.
- The Writing and Language section evaluates a student's grammar, usage, and rhetoric skills through multiple-choice questions.
- The Math section assesses a student's problem-solving abilities and mathematical reasoning skills.
On the other hand, the GRE consists of three sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing.
- The Verbal Reasoning section assesses a test-taker's ability to analyze and evaluate written material.
- The Quantitative Reasoning section evaluates problem-solving abilities and mathematical concepts.
- The Analytical Writing section assesses the ability to construct coherent arguments, analyse complex issues, and support ideas with relevant examples and evidence.
4. Scoring system
The SAT is scored on a scale of 400 to 1600. The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing sections, as well as the Math section, are each scored on a scale of 200 to 800. The scores are derived from the number of correct answers and the subsequent calculation of a raw score. The raw score is then converted into a scaled score using a statistical equating process to account for any variations in difficulty across different test administrations. The optional Essay section is scored separately on a scale of 6 to 24 based on the quality of the essay's analysis, organisation, language use, and writing skills.
The GRE, on the other hand, has separate scores for each section.
- The Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections are scored on a scale of 130 to 170, in one-point increments. These scores are determined based on the number of correct answers and the level of difficulty of the questions answered correctly.
- The Analytical Writing section is scored on a scale of 0 to 6, in half-point increments. Trained human raters assess the essays based on the test-taker's ability to analyse complex issues, develop coherent arguments, and provide supporting evidence.
5. Registration fee
The SAT registration fee is $60, plus a $43 regional fee, however, additional charges may apply for late registration or changes to the test date or centre.
The GRE General Test registration fee is $220 worldwide, which is quite high compared to the SAT.
SAT vs GRE: Difficulty level
Determining which test is more difficult, the SAT or GRE is subjective and can vary depending on individual strengths, weaknesses, and familiarity with the content. However, in general, the GRE is considered to be more challenging than the SAT.
The SAT is primarily taken by high school students and assesses knowledge and skills acquired during their secondary education. The difficulty level of the SAT can be challenging for high school students, but it is designed to be manageable for that level.
On the other hand, the GRE is intended for individuals applying to graduate or business school programs. It is designed to evaluate skills and knowledge at a higher academic level. The content and difficulty of the GRE reflect the expectations and requirements of graduate-level study. The GRE often involves more advanced mathematical concepts, a broader vocabulary, and more complex reading passages compared to the SAT.
How to choose the right test: SAT vs GRE
If you are a high school student seeking admission to undergraduate programs, the SAT is typically the appropriate test. It assesses the fundamental skills and knowledge acquired during high school education and is widely accepted by colleges and universities for undergraduate admissions.
On the other hand, if you are applying for graduate or business school programs, the GRE is more suitable. The GRE is specifically designed to evaluate the skills and aptitude needed for advanced studies. It assesses verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and critical thinking, which are important for success in graduate-level coursework.
Top universities for GRE General Test vs GRE Subject Test
When considering top universities for the GRE General Test and GRE Subject Test, it is important to note that university rankings can vary depending on the field of study and individual preferences.
1. Top Universities for GRE General Test
Here are some prestigious universities that are known for their strong programs and consideration of GRE General Test scores
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
- Stanford University
- Harvard University
- California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
- University of Chicago
- Columbia University
- Princeton University
- Yale University
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of California, Berkeley
These universities are renowned for their graduate programs and typically require the GRE General Test as part of the admissions process. However, it is important to research each institution's specific requirements and preferred score ranges for the programs you are interested in.
2. Top Universities for GRE Subject Test
The GRE Subject Test is typically required or recommended for certain specialised fields of study. Here are some universities known for their strong programs in specific subjects and consideration of GRE Subject Test scores:
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Math, Physics
- Stanford University - Computer Science, Engineering, Physics
- University of California, Berkeley - Physics, Chemistry
- Princeton University - Math, Physics
- California Institute of Technology (Caltech) - Physics, Chemistry
- Harvard University - Biology, Chemistry
- University of Chicago - Economics, Political Science
- Yale University - English Literature, History
- Columbia University - English Literature, History
- University of Michigan - Psychology, Sociology
It is important to note that not all universities require or consider the GRE Subject Test for admissions. However, for certain specialised fields, submitting a strong GRE Subject Test score can strengthen your application and demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in that specific subject.
The SAT and GRE are standardised tests with distinct purposes and target different stages of academic pursuits when studying abroad. The SAT is primarily taken by high school students seeking admission to undergraduate programs, while the GRE is aimed at individuals applying for graduate or business school programs. By considering academic goals, institution requirements, and personal strengths, students can choose the appropriate test to enhance their chances of success when studying abroad.
Frequently asked questions
What is the difference between the SAT and GRE?
The SAT is a standardised test primarily taken by high school students for undergraduate admissions, while the GRE is aimed at individuals applying for graduate or business school programs. The SAT focuses on critical reading, writing, and mathematics, while the GRE assesses verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and critical thinking.
Can I take both the SAT and GRE?
Yes, you can take both tests. The SAT is typically taken by high school students for undergraduate admissions, while the GRE is for individuals seeking admission to graduate or business school programs.
Are the SAT and GRE scored on the same scale?
No, the SAT and GRE are scored on different scales. The SAT is scored on a scale of 400 to 1600, with separate scores for each section. The optional essay is scored separately on a scale of 6 to 24. The GRE has separate scores for each section. Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning are scored on a scale of 130 to 170, with 1-point increments, while Analytical Writing is scored on a scale of 0 to 6, with half-point increments.