About GRE popularity and GMAT craftiness

Recently, the GRE test has increasingly began to appear in the lists of requirements for applicants to the MBA degree

Recently, the GRE test has increasingly began to appear in the lists of requirements for applicants to the MBA degree. Graduate Record Examinations are offered as an alternative to GMAT, which, let us recall, was originally designed to test knowledge and abilities for business training and still inspires horror and fear for those entering to get MBA.

GRE: General Information

Graduate Record Examinations were developed in the 50s as a method of assessing general thinking abilities. The GRE’s Homeland, as well as its "rival" - GMAT, was America, where the results of GRE-testing was an indispensable condition for submitting documents to the master's and graduate school.

The structure of the GRE test is easy to describe and it can not be called something extraordinary. The GRE test exists in two versions: general test and subject test. The latter is designed for those entering the master’s or graduate school in a certain narrow specialty, depending on which the discipline is chosen: mathematics, biochemistry, literature, history, etc. To successfully pass the subject GRE, it is necessary to orientate perfectly in the university undergraduate program in the chosen specialization. Now we are more interested in the GRE-general, which results are taken into account when applying for some MBA programs.

The GENERAL GRE includes three blocks:

verbal, involving competent answers to questions and own assessment of the proposed situations;

a mathematical section, to solve the tasks of which an entrant will be required to demonstrate knowledge of the school course of mathematics and analysis;

analytics section - writing an essay on a given topic.

The test also includes questions that do not affect the overall score. These are the tasks of the so-called "experimental" block, which are planned to be included in the general case of the GRE test in the future. The tricky part is that no testee will be able to understand which question is experimental and which is the main one.

The appeared opportunity to "get around" GMAT was perceived by entrants with flying colors - the number of students who choose GRE, is growing every year. It is understandable. GRE is much simpler than its older brother:

  • GMAT tasks are more focused on the English language grammar, GRE is "satisfied" with tolerable knowledge of vocabulary;
  • for a positive assessment for solving mathematical tasks of the GRE test, a fairly good knowledge of the high school program is enough, which can not be said about GMAT;
  • unlike an electronic format of GMAT, GRE assumes traditional paper and a pen;
  • finally, GRE is cheaper.

The fact that many schools look at the results of the linguistic block with wide eyes closed is particularly pleasant to foreign students. A foreigner is usually secretly listed in the column of "priority students". And if he is not lucky enough to get a high score on the language - he can easily pass the familiar TOEFL, which is easier to pass.

However, this GRE-euphoria is not divided at all on the other side of the barricade: the teaching staff, the test developers and the administrations of many elite business schools. The problem is seen in the absence of the Data Sufficiency sector in the mathematical block of the GRE test system. The very section that is perceived by many entrants as the main obstacle to the successful passing of GMAT and enrollment in the MBA program.

GMAT supporters argue their position in this way.

GMAT questions are designed in full accordance with the tasks that future MBA students will perform, first of all, on lessons. This is a test of the skills of text understanding - learning by the program involves reading of 50-100 pages daily. And the ability to think critically - a case study technique based on the analysis of real economic, social and business practices, will require students to critically analyze possible solutions offered by fellow students. These skills and competences quite are competently assessed by the GRE-test as well, including verbal and analytical sections.

However, the mathematical section does not mean solving the problems of data sufficiency, and this, in the opinion of specialists, is the basic skills that one must possess when solving the problems related to bank cards and fraud actions with them. Skimming tasks are included in the main section of the case study methodology, and the ability to work with such tasks is identified precisely by the Data Sufficiency section. And as a conclusion: the GRE test simply can not adequately "measure" special skills and abilities necessary to succeed in a business school (and prosperity in business).

What is this insidious GMAT section that managed to "break" the European scientific and pedagogical community into two camps? What is the main "mindset" of the section, which is so afraid by testees?


It is recommended to keep your ears open and try not to fall into the cunning "traps" placed by the developers with the questions of this block. First of all, a testee can be driven mad by the multiplicity of possible interpretations of the question, but there is a way to protect oneself from this unrest. Remember – a mistake is possible only in two cases:

You are sure that there is enough information, but you are mistaken.

You are sure that the information is not enough, but you are mistaken.

Let’s illustrate the above with extremely simple examples.

Mistake№1: Confidence in the sufficiency of information

Most often, such mistakes are associated with conjectures of an entrant, when he begins to think out what has already been given.

Question: Find X if Х^2=9?

Your mistake: You assume that the unknown is most likely a positive number (+3) or do not take into account that the unknown can also be a negative number (-3). In GMAT tasks similar "dirty tricks" can be often met - do not lose vigilance and do not assume anything.

Mistake№2: Confidence in Insufficient Information

Such mistakes are less common when a testee does not notice the information lying on the surface.

Question: If, Y is the number of apples in a basket, what can be its value?

Your mistake: You assume that the definition of Y as the number of apples is not very important, but the correct answer is the statement that Y can not be a negative number.

It is clear that in the exam the questions will be much more difficult. We gave these examples as an illustration of the general strategy for solving similar tasks. If you have an idea of typical mistakes, you are more likely to be safe from them. In fact, the data structure of the Data Sufficiency section is more logical than many people think.

Choosing between GMAT and GRE, you, of course, can prefer the latter and go an easy way. However, keep in mind that the "sympathizers" of the GRE exam as a pass-through for admission to the MBA program are in the minority. But opponents among the representatives of the scientific and pedagogical community are enough. On the sidelines, the GRE exam was even nicknamed a "killer test", trying to displace the ideal GMAT. What do you think? Can your preferences affect the decision of the admissions committee, in the part where a subjective assessment is required?