Time was when the GMAT was clearly the most important criterion for business schools to pick an applicant. Slowly other things on the application gained importance and the selection process at business schools became complicated and hence a lot more difficult to crack. Things remained that way for a number of years and business schools took pride in divulging exactly how each one of them had evolved a way to pick the smartest from the hundreds of applicants each year. The result was devastatingly demoralizing for many MBA aspirants. Business schools became bastions of learning that everyone wanted to occupy but that daunted many by their mind-boggling statistics of average GMAT scores, number of years of work experience, extra- curricular involvements and a lot else that many deserving applicants were unable to show all together.

The one ingredient in particular that knocked the bottom out of many aspirants’ plans was the high GMAT score requirement. And then came respite; the GRE, taken by students applying to Master’s level programs in non-management subjects, got noticed by the business schools and some of them began considering GRE scores for admissions to MBA programs. The schools that did so were initially a handful but a meaningful handful and hence they set rolling what has today become virtually a norm. The majority of business schools do entertain the GRE scores in place of the GMAT scores. But is the reaction unbiased and fair enough to be relied on? Obviously the schools insist that for them both scores are equally telling and that they do not prefer the GMAT to the GRE. But the endless discussions about this issue only serve to befuddle applicants.

Whatever the truth may be, it is clear that applicants with good GRE scores are finding their way into business schools of standing and that should in itself be reason enough to believe that there is no discrimination against the GRE score nor any preference for the GMAT score and hence that the scores of both tests have the same punch! Nonetheless, what needs to be kept in mind while deciding on the test to be taken is the likely outcome of the effort. The two tests are barefacedly distinct; while the GMAT has a clear leaning towards grammar, convoluted reasoning and long reading passages, the GRE is vocabulary centric, poses simpler reasoning problems and includes short, crisp very manageable reading passages, and the math levels of the GRE are more achievable than those to which the GMAT spirals.

This summary of the two tests does not suggest that the GRE is easier; it simply outlines how different the tests are and hence argues that each test requires different skill sets. So, when one sits down to plan an MBA school application, it is prudent to interface with both the tests and to discover which suits your academic temperament. After all, if the business schools have shown liberality in this matter, why not make the most of it? Another factor that should influence the choice of test is the attitude of the schools to which one is applying. All applicants have a wish-list of schools ready long before they even start the ordeal of gearing up for the process. Study schools and make sure which test the schools on your list, and even those that you may need to settle for should the wish-list schools not materialize, are positive towards.