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What MBA Applicants Need to Know About the GRE


Are you thinking about going to business School, and wondering whether to take the GMAT or the GRE?

For years, the GMAT has been considered the go-to test for students looking to get their MBA. However, the GRE has been growing in popularity over the years, and is now almost as popular for b-school Applicants as the GMAT.

Deciding which test to take – or whether to take both – is an important step toward preparing your MBA application.

We’ve shared several articles about the GMAT to help students understand and prepare for that test. Now, it’s time to take a closer look at the GMAT.

Format of the GRE

The Graduate Record Examination, or GRE, was originally designed as a test for all graduate school applicants to take to determine their readiness for grad school. Because of this, it tends to be a more general test of reading, writing, and quantitative skills than the GMAT.


The GRE is available in both computer-delivered and paper-delivered formats, although many schools prefer for students to take the computerized version of the test.

Unlike the GMAT, the computerized version of the GRE is adaptive by section only, allowing students to go back and change their answers to previous questions, or skip them and come back to them if they have time remaining. The software even allows students to mark specific questions for review within a section.

What kinds of questions are on the GRE?

Much like the GMAT, the GRE is divided into three sections: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning.

Section Time # of questions Score Content & tasks
Analytical Writing 30 minutes per essay (60 minutes total) Two essays 0 to 6 (half-point increments) Students write two essays, one analyzing an issue, one analyzing a given argument.
Verbal Reasoning 30 minutes per section (60 minutes total) 20 questions per section (40 questions total) 130-170 (one-point increments) Read passages and answer multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank questions that demonstrate an ability to analyze, draw conclusions, and recognize important points, as well as understand vocabulary terms.
Quantitative Reasoning 35 minutes per section (70 minutes total) 20 questions per section (40 questions total) 130-170 (one-point increments) Answer multiple choice, numeric entry and quantitative comparison questions that assess knowledge of algebra, arithmetic, geometry, and data analysis.
Unscored variable variable NA A research section (at the end of the test) and experimental section (anywhere after the writing test) that allow test-makers to try out new questions, and do not count toward your score.
Total test At least 3 hours, 10 minutes At least 80 questions, 2 essays 260-340  


What is a good score on the GRE?

Test scores on the GRE are valid for five years after the test date. The total score for the GRE is arrived at by simply adding the Verbal and Quantitative section scores; the Analytical Writing section is scored on a separate scale.

All questions in a given GRE section count toward a student’s raw score, whether answered correctly or not. Essays on the GRE Analytical Writing section are scored by both a human rater and a computerized rater; if the scores disagree, then a second human rater is consulted.

While the GRE is gaining popularity with Business School applicants and admissions committees, it is still not as well established as the GMAT. Most schools do not yet list a minimum required score for the GRE.

However, top business schools are still likely to be looking for very high scores from their applicants, regardless of which test they choose to take. A score of 163 on the Verbal Reasoning and 165 on the Quantitative Reasoning section will place you into the top ten percent of GRE test-takers.  A score of 165 Verbal and 168 Quantitative will place you into the top five percent.

You turn

Are you wondering how to get into a top business school? Do you want to know whether you should take the GRE or the GMAT?

You’ll find answers to all your business school related questions on the EXPARTUS blog. If there’s something that you want to know that we haven’t covered, send us an email at [email protected] We are here to help.

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