Which is easier- the GMAT Focus or the New GRE?


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Which is easier- the GMAT Focus or the New GRE?

Title banner for GMAT vs GRE : which exam is easier?

updated on November 7th 2023

Is the GMAT Focus or the GRE easier?

To obtain just an average score (around a 310), the GRE is often easier. It's true that it was easier to get a top score on the GRE for a couple of years after it changed in 2011. However, at the time of this update, a good score on the GMAT is actually easier for many students to obtain. This is because the exam is more "studyable". See below for details. If you want to find out for sure though, feel free to e-mail me at dan@vinciaprep.com and I'll send you a practice test for both the GMAT and GRE and then analyse your results for free.


GMAT vs GRE overall and quant section comparison


Many students have the choice between the GMAT focus or the GRE when preparing for a masters or MBA program. They often start by asking the question: “Which exam is easier?” The GRE was first accepted by business schools in 2009. At that time, it was clearly easier than the GMAT. The GRE underwent changes in August 2011. The two tests became more similar, but the math section of the GMAT remained generally harder. As the years have passed, the GRE math section has increased in difficulty. This is especially true at the higher levels. Today, it is just as hard to get a top score on the math section of the GRE. This would be 163+ on the GRE or an 81 on the GMAT focus exam.  The GRE verbal section is considered to be more difficult. This is due to the list of 1000 to 2000 vocabulary words many people must learn. 

The quant section for both tests includes essentially high school-level math. They do not include trigonometry, calculus or other higher-level mathematics. The GRE does allow calculators for the whole quant section. Many people find this reassuring. However, most of the time the calculator will slow you down more than help you. We teach our students faster ways to find an answer without one since this generally increases their score. On the GMAT focus, you’re not allowed a calculator for the quant section, but you can use a calculator for the data insights section. Here again though, you're often better off not using the calcultor for most questions. Thus, for both tests you must be comfortable calculating in your head. One difference is that the GMAT quant section favors logic-based math questions, and does't test geometry. The GRE on the other hand has a fair number of geometry questions. 


GMAT vs GRE verbal section


The Verbal sections of the GMAT and GRE do have many things in common. Yet one difference is the GRE's emphasis on vocabulary and word choice. The GMAT doesn’t directly test your vocab. It emphasizes logic and critical-thinking. The emphasis on obscure vocab words is a negative point for the GRE verbal section. Most students (even native English speakers) must learn 1000-2000 words to be comfortable. For this reason alone, the GRE can be harder than the GMAT. 

The GMAT focus no longer tests grammar like the old GMAT. Instead, the GMAT focus verbal section only has reading comprehension and critical reasoning questions. Both tests have reading comprehension questions. This is where you read 1-2 paragraphs and then answer questions about the text. Both have critical reasoning questions that analyze the logic of an argument. However, critical reasoning questions make up half of the GMAT verbal section whereas the GRE only has about 3 of these questions per test. The GRE prefers to replace the critical reasoning questions with vocab questions. The GRE also, has a writing section that takes 30 minutes which the GMAT focus no longer has.

If you feel that you have a rich vocabulary, the GRE may be a better option. The easiest way to know is to look at some GRE word lists online. If there are too many difficult words, it may be easier to take the GMAT. Mastering a few grammar concepts could be simpler than memorizing 1000+ new vocab words. With that said, you should double check to make sure which exam your school accepts. Most business and finance programs accept both tests, but many other academic areas only accept the GRE.




Now that we’ve answered which is easier, let’s compare the tests in more detail. If you’re reading this, you're probably preparing your applciation to a graduate or business program.  You have probably seen the names GRE and GMAT countless times. It's true that the two exams are accepted by the same school business schools most of the time. Be careful. This does not mean that they are interchangeable. It's important to know the differences between them before registering.

The GRE (the Graduate Record Examinations) is a 2 hour minute multiple-choice test. It's required by many graduate schools in North America. Created by ETS (Educational Testing Service), the test has existed since 1936. Like the GMAT, the GRE is computer based. It tests your skills in arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis.  It also tests your vocabulary and reading ability. You must be able to evaluate written material, think critically, and solve problems.  The GRE gives schools the ability to judge applicants’ readiness for graduate-level education. The admissions board looks at your GRE score, your grades, and supporting materials to see if you're right for their program.  

The GMAT focus exam is a 2 hour and 15 minute multiple-choice test from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). It specifically judges how prepared you are for an MBA, EMBA, masters in business, or masters in finance. Questions test skills in mathematics, data analysis, and problem solving. Admissions boards look at your GMAT score along with your work experience, grades, CV, interviews, and letters of recommendation. The total package will show if you are a good fit for an MBA, EMBA, Masters in Finance, or Business program.

Image breaking down the differences between the GMAT and GRE.

A breakdown of the price for the GMAT and GRE

*Note the GMAT has become more expensive in recent years and now costs 360 euros in Europe after taxes and around 300 dollars in the US.

What is the difference?

The key difference between the GRE and GMAT is their intended use. The GRE is used as part of admissions for a variety of graduate school programs. Meaning that its purpose is rather general. The GMAT is only used to apply to business schools and business related programs. 

Should I Take the GRE or the GMAT?


To answer this question, you must consider your strengths and your future goals. 

The GMAT is a better choice if your heart is set on studying business, finance, or marketing. 

It is true that the GRE is accepted by more and more MBA programs. Top business schools like Stanford and Harvard now accept the GRE. Still, many business schools will accept only the GMAT. To give you some numbers, only 1300 universities with a business program accept the GRE. Over 7000 business programs at over 2300 universities accept the GMAT. Simply put, the GMAT will meet the test requirement for any business school. The GRE is less accepted and only about 20 percent of applicants use the GRE for business schools as of November 2023. 


Statistics for universities accepting the GMAT and the GRE


The GRE is accepted by many diverse graduate programs and is therefore less specific. This leaves your options open. In the event that you are not exactly sure what you want to do after graduation, the GRE is a better option for you. 

If you’re determined to work in management, having a GMAT score sends a clear message to universities. It shows that you are a candidate focused on gaining an MBA or masters related to business. It is also worth considering that jobs do sometimes ask applicants for their GMAT scores. For management and consulting positions, this is becoming common practice. 

You should always make sure that your schools and programs accept whatever test you decide to take. After this consideration, you must decide what score you need and what your strengths are. If you are not sure, send us an e-mail at dan@vinciaprep.com for a free online practice GMAT and GRE test and personalised analysis. I'll look over how you did on all of the different sections, and then give you an idea how much you can improve on each part and tell you how long it will take you to reach your objective.


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If you need help studying for the GMAT, contact Dan now.  In order to provide the maximum amount of attention to everyone, only 10 students a month can be accepted.

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