While the GMAT is the standard test for business graduate schools, the GRE is the standard test for most other majors and can be used for many business schools as well. So if the business school you are applying to accepts GRE scores, take this test instead if you want to get a second master's degree or change majors. The best part is, you won't need to pay for a high-dollar prep course because you can get all the help you need from lower-priced tutors and free and inexpensive software.

Does Your Business School Accept GRE Scores?
This is the most important question before you consider taking the GRE instead of the GMAT. Call all the universities you are considering attending before deciding to take the GRE. If the answer is no, then any further debate over which test to take is futile. (For more, check out Should You Head Back To Business School?)

You should take the GRE instead of the GMAT if the schools you are applying to accept test results from both and you answer yes to the following two questions:

  • Are you thinking about getting another degree other than an MBA?
  • Is there potential for getting a different degree at a later date? Will the business schools you are applying for accept GRE scores in place of GMAT scores?

The GMAT is More Expensive
In 2008/2009, the rate to take the GMAT was $250.The rate for 2008/2009 school year for the GRE was $140.

You can also save money on the GRE by buying software programs instead of full-blown test preparation courses. Read reviews on the internet to choose which one is right for you. You could save a lot of money by spending $40-60 on a software program instead of several hundred on a test preparation course. To sweeten the deal on your savings, supplement your studying with test materials from the official websites of the test you decide to take.

Differences Between the Two Tests?
Both the GRE and the GMAT contain sections that test your writing, verbal (language) and quantitative (math) skills. But the focus of the verbal and quantitative sections differs.

  • Analyze and evaluate written material and synthesize information obtained from it
  • Analyze relationships among component parts of sentences
  • Recognize relationships between words and concepts
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Critical Reasoning
  • Sentence Correction
  • Understand basic concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis
  • Reason quantitatively
  • Solve problems in a quantitative setting
  • Data Sufficiency
  • Problem Solving

As you can see from the chart, the GRE focuses on general skills while the GMAT focuses on skills that apply to business. So if your mathematical skills lie more within the area of statistics than algebra or geometry, you would probably do better on the GMAT.

Study Buddies
Use the freebie software and paper study guides as supplemental material for the test.When you sign up to take the GRE, you can download software and a study guide with basic information on what will be on the test.

If you need to brush up on math skills, hire a tutor from a local college instead of paying for a high-dollar graduate study course. The hardest part of taking a standardized test is remembering bits of information you haven't had to think about in years. For both statistics and basic math, you can hire a tutor from a local community college or university. Just call up the math center on campus and ask for phone numbers of students who do private tutoring. The same can be done through the writing center for brushing up on English skills.

There are reasons to take both the GRE and the GMAT. Take the GMAT if you feel more comfortable with statistics than geometry. After all, if you don't get the score you need in order to get into business school, the higher price and the lack of flexibility, if you decide to pursue a non-business major, is irrelevant.

However, if you feel comfortable with the material the GRE covers – and the school of your choice accepts GRE scores for admittance - take the GRE. You'll spend over a hundred dollars less and have the ability to pursue other degrees or a dual-degree with a major outside of the business college.

For more information on getting an MBA, check out A Double Undergrad Can Cost You Your MBA and CFA, MBA ... Or Both?

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