The overwhelming majority of business school applicants who apply to the top 50 schools take the GMAT, not the GRE.  Though there is much fanfare about the rise in popularity of the GRE, the GMAT is still the king of the MBA jungle.


There are several reasons most business school applicants at the most competitive schools opt for the GMAT.  This blog post highlights three reasons.  First, when you take the GMAT, you can easily see how your scores compare to the scores of students currently enrolled at a given school.  Second, when you take the GMAT, you signal to schools that you are interested in a career in business.  Finally, the GMAT enables you to demonstrate your quantitative skills better than the GRE does.

When You Take the GMAT You Know Where You Stand

While most business schools publish information about GMAT scores for accepted students, many, including several top 50 schools, still do not publish summary test-score data for students who took the GRE.  In many cases, because relatively few accepted students have taken the GRE, the schools simply do not have enough data for their GRE summary statistics, such as average and range, to be meaningful.  Without GRE data, it can be difficult for applicants to assess their fit for these MBA programs.

In the online class profile for the Harvard Business School Class of 2018, GRE scores are noticeably absent (  Similarly, although the Stanford Graduate School of Business does publish GRE scores, they do not show them on their 2018 class profile page (

Since knowing where you stand is critical information to have when deciding where to apply, you should take the GMAT, even though business schools claim to be indifferent between the two tests.

The GMAT Means Business

The GMAT is accepted only by business schools, and for decades, the GMAT was the only standardized test accepted by business schools.  It is just in the last few years that business schools began to accept the GRE.  The GRE, in contrast, was established as the standardized test for a broad range of master’s degree programs, from economics to classics to literature, some of which do not have quantitative components.  The GMAT means business, and taking it helps you send a clear message to business schools that you mean business, too.

The GMAT Tests Quantitative Skills Better

All business schools want students with strong quantitative skills.  Given the target audience for the GMAT is people pursuing degrees in business, and the target audience for the GRE is much broader, it is not surprising the quantitative questions on the GMAT are generally believed to be more difficult than the quantitative questions on the GRE.  Also, the biggest difference between the two tests is that the GRE has two writing sections and the GMAT has only one writing section.  In the place of the second writing section, the GMAT has an integrated reasoning (i.e., problem solving) section.  


There is a good reason the GMAT vs. GRE question is one of the most frequently asked questions by applicants to top schools.  The decision about which standardized test to take is an important one.  The majority of business school students who are now at the top 50 business schools have taken the GMAT.  You should, too.

Note:  There are two types of situations for which the GRE makes good sense.  The first is when a person is applying to a joint degree program that requires the GRE, such as a Master of Business Administration/Master of Public Administration (MBA/MPA).  The second is when a person has a strong quantitative background and has done very well on the GRE, including the quantitative part.

Helpful Links

Average GMAT Scores at Top 50 Business Schools (Source:  Poets & Quants)

Average GRE Scores at Some of the Top Business Schools (Source: Poets & Quants)

Dianna Magnani recently joined the Ivy Ed team as an MBA Advisor.