Can I give GRE for MBA?

Till very recently, postgraduate aspirants wishing to go to the US were required to take one of the two tests available: the GMAT, for admissions to business schools, or the GRE, for most other programs. In 2006, in a landmark movement that revolutionized higher education in the US, several business schools, including the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, and University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business started accepting GRE for MBA courses.

Nikhil Varaiya, director of graduate studies at the San Diego State University, lauds the decisions of B-Schools who accept the GRE score. He says, “With more and more employers saying, ‘We want students from diverse backgrounds, it was sort of difficult to argue that the GMAT was the only measure to use.”

Today, more than 1200 schools worldwide (you can access the complete list of schools hereare happy to consider applicants with a GRE score for their MBA programs. Not only is it advantageous for students, but also for universities, since accepting GRE score holders means the applicant pool is much bigger and more diverse and gives them more choice. The GRE has thus become more versatile over the years, and it is expected that in five years or so, almost all business schools in the US will accept the GRE for admissions. As an added advantage, taking the GRE, which costs $205 is also considerably more cost-effective as compared to the GMAT ($250)

GMAT vs. the GRE – What’s the difference?

Apart from the fact that the GMAT was until recently the go-to test for B-School admissions while the GRE was regarded as the aptitude test of choice for MS aspirants, the two are quite similar indeed. The primary difference between GRE and GMAT is that the

GRE comprises 3 sections:

  • The Analytical Writing Assessment Task with 2 essays to complete
  • Verbal Reasoning and
  • Quantitative Reasoning

whereas the GMAT comprises 4:

  • Analytical Writing Assessment (1 essay)
  • Integrated Reasoning
  • Quantitative and Verbal

The GRE and GMAT are scored between 260-340 and 200-800 respectively, with the total scores in both cases including the sum of only the Verbal and Quantitative section scores. The Analytical Writing Section on both the GRE and GMAT are scored separately on a scale of 0-6 with 0.5 point increments. The Integrated Reasoning section, too, is scored separately on the GMAT on a scale of 1-8

Both scores are valid for a period of 5 years from the date of taking the test.

The general consensus is that the quantitative questions on the GMAT are of a significantly higher level as compared to that of the GRE. Though both exams test your concepts of similar topics such as data interpretation, algebra, and arithmetic, the GMAT has more challenging questions requiring a higher degree of analysis and critical thinking. Moreover, the format of these questions can be unusual and not what most students are used to.

GRE quantitative questions are usually either straightforward single or multiple-choice questions, in a format that most students likely have a lot of experience with.

Who should choose to write the GRE?

Since there is no preference between those who apply with a GRE or a GMAT score, the choice is entirely dependent on one thing:


These are some of the instances when taking the GRE makes more sense:

  • If you are confused between an MS and an MBA, and want to keep your options open.
  • If you feel that you possess a logical thought process and reasoning ability.
  • If you feel Mathematics, like Data Analysis, is too difficult
  • If you have a better grasp of Vocabulary than Grammar

How does the GRE for B-school admissions work out?

It is actually quite simple. When you send your GRE score for application for an MBA or other management programs, the admissions committee uses an ETS-approved conversion tool to convert your GRE score into the appropriate GMAT score. Following this, your application will be processed normally.

GRE to GMAT Conversion

While we all know that a 320+ or 750+ is considered a great score on the GRE and GMAT respectively, how do you convert your GRE score to its equivalent GMAT score and vice-versa?  Here’s a handy little formula to help you out!

Total GMAT score =  – 2080.75 + (6.38 * GRE Verbal Score) + (10.62 * GRE Quantitative Score)

Note that though it’s not absolutely accurate, as there are certain approximations involved, it’s as close as it gets!

Alternatively, you could also save yourself the effort of performing complicated calculations and refer to the tables below:

GRE for MBA - GRE to GMAT Score Conversion Chart

GRE for MBA - GRE to GMAT Score Conversion Chart 2

Thus if you’re planning to take the GRE for MBA programs, and you know the GMAT scores they generally require, you can now find out the equivalent GRE score you need to target.

So, should I submit my GRE score while applying for an MBA program?

The simple answer is that it entirely depends on your skill set.

From the admissions point of view, there is no preference between those who apply with a GRE score and those who apply with a GMAT score. In fact, the percentage of applicants applying with a GRE score is higher with each passing year.

For example, Yale School of Management, ranked #8, had 23% of MBA applicants applying with GRE scores from 18% compared to the previous year.

Having said that, let us now take a look at the top ten business schools in the world and the minimum GRE scores they require if any:

Universities which accept GRE for MBA

The most prominent feature of this table, as you may have noticed, is that most of these schools do not actually have a minimum score requirement. This is generally because top business schools decline to report a minimum GRE score requirement. According to Poets & Quants, this could be because these universities want to keep the option of accepting students even with lower GRE scores and not lose their premium ranking in the USNEWS list.

So, currently, whether you have a 305 or a perfect 340, your application will be judged the same. Of course, a couple of schools do have a percentile requirement, but this is only an indicative score, to give you an idea of what the academic standards in these schools are like.

So, what are your options?

  • If you have already taken GMAT and are unhappy with the scores, you can try taking a GRE diagnostic test to see how you fare. Remember, the GRE is not necessarily easier, it’s different.  As an engineering student, your hold over the GRE Quant section is bound to be better. However, you may need to work on your Verbal skills a bit before you become fully GRE ready. Both for students considering an MS in say, Business Analytics or Finance, or an MBA GRE scores are likely to keep gaining in acceptance and popularity, with more students and universities opting for the ETS administered test of aptitude over the GMAT.

Try GRE diagnostic test Now!

  • If you have your sights set on a particular school and are keen to know where your GRE score and GPA stand with respect to other applicants, you have the option of comparing your target GRE score against the GMAT score using the ETS comparison tool.
  • Alternatively, you can also take a look at the class profile of the current batch of the program you are applying to, which will give you a glimpse at the average GRE/GMAT scores obtained by successful applicants.

AdmitEDGE Admission Tip: Another important thing to note is that, in addition to a GRE or GMAT score, several B-schools require you to have 2-5 years of prior work experience too. Since an MBA is a hands-on course, students with professional experience tend to have an edge over those who have little to none.

I hope that you now have a better understanding of what each test entails, their similarities and differences, and on whether you ought to be taking the GMAT or GRE for MBA programs. If you have any more questions you’d like to ask us about the universities that accept the GRE for their MBA program, the finer differences between the two and the overall admissions process, feel free to ask us in the comments below! We’ll get back to you with the answers you’re looking for, at the earliest!

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