If you plan to apply to a graduate degree abroad, or are already doing so, you should keep in mind that there will be a series of administrative, academic, curricular, migratory and labor requirements that you must meet. One of the determining requirements, especially if you are applying to the most competitive graduate programs in the best Business Schools and Universities, is to obtain outstanding scores on one of the two main standardized tests. These are the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test).
These standardized tests, which are in English, serve to measure verbal and quantitative skills which will be necessary when studying the graduate degree of your choice. According to , the main utility of these exams is that they allow to compare the aptitude of the candidates against their direct competition in a relatively more objective way than resumes, letters of recommendation or essays. You have probably heard of these tests and therefore have some idea or concept of them. You might think that the GMAT is more suitable for business or that it is the most difficult, while the GRE is only for social sciences, although recently this has not been the case. Below we will present the peculiarities of each exam and the most valuable insights about them.
The Graduate Management Admission Test has been applied for more than half a century by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), and originally arose from the need for nine business schools to have objective admission criteria. His fame has led him to be accepted as an entrance exam in more than 7,000 programs at more than 2,300 universities around the world.
The test is divided into four parts.
- Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA): With a duration of 30 minutes, an essay must be carried out that analyzes the validity of a certain argument. Testing your critical ability, writing and ability to organize ideas and validate arguments.
- Integrated Reasoning: The test taker must answer 12 questions (which vary in 4 categories) in 30 minutes. This section is relatively new – it began to be applied in 2012 – and it replaces a second essay that was previously written. Now, to demonstrate your skills in solving real-life problems, in this section you will test your ability to analyze data, graphs and tables to answer certain questions.
- Quantitative:Considered the most complicated of the GMAT, this part is divided into Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency. The latter is what makes this test famous, since instead of solving a numerical problem, test takers must define what information would help solve the problem. In total, there will be 37 questions on basic math topics that will need to be answered with logic skills and ingenious strategies – elementary concepts in advanced situations!
- Verbal:In a period of 75 minutes, the candidate must answer 41 questions from the following subsections: Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension. Each one tests language skills that, in theory, measure your level of understanding of the language and your agility by applying it in various situations.
While grades are awarded for each section, the number that stands out in your application is the overall score. It is based on a normal distribution, in which the mean is 500 and the maximum score is 800. However, the GMAT competitive level has moved the mean to 600. This makes a score of 600 no longer competitive, and that the best universities consider good scores to those over 670 (in percentiles, an 80 percentile). Remember, a “good” result is not enough, but an outstanding one.
The Graduate Record Examinations test – in its General Test version – measures quantitative, verbal and analytical skills of the applicant, as well as aspects of critical thinking. It began to be applied before the GMAT, and has become even more relevant after undergoing certain changes and being accepted in competitive business postgraduate courses. These include MBAs from Harvard, MIT Sloan, Stanford, etc.
The GRE exam structure itself has seven sections, but of three different types.
- Verbal: This section has tasks on reading comprehension, completing sentences with words in such a way that they formulate coherent sentences and looking for equivalences of meanings. It is considered difficult, since the vocabulary used is little used even for native English speakers. There are two verbal sections, and depending on your performance in the first section, the second will have more complicated or simple questions.
- Quantitative: The thematic content will be basic mathematics and logical reasoning, but unlike the GMAT, it has 3 types of questions. These are Problem Solving (the normal ones), Quantitative comparison (where you have to determine what is greater between two quantities, related to specific problems) and Data Interpretation. As in verbal, it has two sections, in which the difficulty of the second depends on the level demonstrated in the first.
- Analytical Writing: It consists of two parts, for which it is necessary to write essays that reveal the argumentative and writing capacity of the candidates.
- Issue task: there are 30 minutes to complete an essay on a selected topic.
- Argument task: There are 30 minutes to write an essay that discusses a given argument (this is similar to GMAT’s AWA).
- Experimental: There are two ways to answer the test, computer and paper. This section only appears in the computer test. To evaluate the difficulty of the GRE questions, there is a test section – which can be verbal or quant – and that you must solve with the best possible score, since you will not know which are the experimental questions.
Although there is an idea that the GMAT is much more important, both tests are competitive, and several business graduates have begun to take the GRE at the same level as the GMAT as an admission requirement. There are even calculators that allow you to convert scores from GRE to GMAT. Therefore, you can focus on the test that best suits you according to your profile, your skills, your strengths and the postgraduate degrees to which you aspire.
On the other hand, something that is true is that, in most countries, there are more GRE test centers than GMAT ones. This, since the ETS (the company that applies the GRE) also applies the TOEFL, an English test widely accepted worldwide as an English certification. So, also take into account the city in which you live to analyze which exam you can take.
An insight that we share with you is that the majority of Latin Americans have lower scores on both exams than many of the competitive postgraduate candidates, as they tend to not prepare or prepare very little. Many play the score believing that the knowledge they think they have will suffice. Be aware that these standardized tests do not assess specific areas of knowledge. Therefore, approaching someone to guide the study in good time is an excellent idea. In addition to guiding you, he must have experience in standardized tests, which will allow him to transmit the specific strategies necessary to master them.
The questions are expertly designed and can be misleading for anyone unfamiliar with the exam format. Thus, it is good to know the aspects that must be reinforced to work on it and obtain the highest possible score. For all the above, we have the preparation tips for GMAT and GRE, offering you a tailor-made, strategic action plan, focused on your Spanish-speaking profile. We know the barriers that as a non-native speaker of English you have, so we break them down; in addition to reinforcing the strengths that your profile gives you for the exam.