GMAT vs. GRE illustration

GMAT vs. GRE: What’s the Difference and Which Should I Take?

Monday, October 18, 2021

Updated on 4/12/2023

Much like taking the ACT or SAT to apply for undergraduate programs, graduate degree programs also have standardized tests that potential students should take prior to applying. The two tests accepted at many business schools, including the Carlson School, are the GMAT and GRE. You will likely only take one of these tests. Find out which test is right for you and how the two are different.

What is the GMAT?

The GMAT is a test that is required for admission to most business schools. Designed by business schools, the test includes a 30-minute analytical writing section with one essay, a 30-minute integrated reasoning section, a 62-minute quantitative section, and a 65-minute verbal section. The GMAT uses a composite score that ranges from 200 to 800.

What is the GRE?

The GRE is a test that is required for admission to most graduate schools. Designed for a more general audience, the test is also a computer-based standardized test that includes a 60-minute analytical writing section, which includes two 30-minute essays. The exam also consists of two 35-minute quantitative reasoning sections and a 30-35 minute experimental section that can be either math or verbal. The GRE has both a verbal and quantitative score that ranges from 130 to 170.

Which should I take, the GMAT or the GRE?

The best way to determine whether to take the GMAT or GRE depends on what you feel are your strengths. The GMAT favors people with strong quantitative and analytical skills, such as those who have success interpreting data to solve problems. The GRE is a more holistic test that has less of a focus on math and data but instead places a higher emphasis on vocabulary rather than grammar.

What are the requirements for waiving the tests?

MBA Programs

Candidates who apply to the Carlson School’s MBA programs may be eligible for a GMAT/GRE waiver if they meet the following criteria.

Must have one of the following:

  • Previous bachelors degree with 3.2+ cumulative GPA at an accredited institution using a 4.0 scale or better (domestic or international)
    • Demonstrates quantitative ability through coursework (ex: Statistics, Engineering, Accounting, etc)
  • Previous bachelors degree with a major in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, etc) field with a 3.0+ cumulative GPA at an accredited institution using a 4.0 scale or better (domestic or international)


Must have one of the following additional requirements

  • 5+ years of full-time professional work experience 
    • Note: Internships or co-ops cannot be included. Graduate assistantships and fellowships can be included. 
  • 4+ years of full-time military experience
  • Graduate (masters or doctoral) degree
  • Professional credential of CPA or CFA

Master's Programs

Candidates who apply to a Carlson School Master's programs may also be eligible for a GMAT/GRE waiver, depending on program. For example, criteria may be:

  • Domestic Applicants (citizens or legal permanent residents of the U.S.)


  • International Applicants with a degree awarded by a U.S. undergraduate institution by the time of enrollment in the MS Finance program

Who satisfy the following minimum requirements:

  • Proof of completion of university-level courses in statistics and calculus
  • A cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent)

I meet those requirements; how do I get a test waiver?

To apply for a test waiver, connect directly with the MBA program or Master's program of your choice.

The following programs do not require the GMAT/GRE: