Choosing between the GMAT, the GRE, and the GMAC

The GMAT used to be the singular option for graduate business program admission. In an effort towards inclusion and diversity, however, many programs are now accepting several different tests to meet their admissions criteria: the GMAT, the GRE, and/or the newly-released GMAC Executive Assessment.

Nearly all business school applicants are either busy students or working professionals, so it is essential to choose the test that resonates most naturally with your skill set to maximize your scoring potential in the limited preparation time you have. Whether you’re working with a tutor on a customized prep plan or studying on your own, here are the basics you need to make an informed decision.

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The Bottom Line:

- GMAT: The GMAT is still the most widely accepted test for graduate business programs. The Math is difficult and precise and you can’t use a calculator, so if Math is your strength, you have an advantage here! If not, be prepared to study hard. Advanced Grammar review and Critical Reasoning strategy is usually needed here too, but there is no pure Vocabulary tested, unlike on the GRE.

- GRE: If you have already taken the GRE for another potential graduate program, it’s a great idea to reuse it! If your verbal skills are significantly stronger, you’ll probably do better on the GRE naturally (especially if you have a good vocabulary). Similarly, the Math is significantly easier, so it usually requires much less studying for non-Math undergraduate majors.

- GMAC Executive Assessment: You should only take it if you are applying to an Executive MBA program that accepts this test. It is significantly shorter and easier than the GMAT, and the schools who take it usually have a decreased emphasis on test scores.

- Test-Optional Schools: Some MBA programs do not require GMAT or GRE scores at all, or list them as optional. If you are an experienced professional (especially one with a long and/or impressive resume) your analytical and reasoning skills can sometimes be proven through your work experience, though you should still check the requirements for your schools. If you are younger and less experienced, sending strong test scores to a test-optional school can round out your application and make you a more attractive candidate.