The GMAT was my first love in the test prep world. We tend to get good at the things we love because we do them more, and the GMAT is no exception for me. I started teaching it as a college sophomore (yep), was among the top handful of GMAT instructors in the nation for The Princeton Review for several years, and got good enough at it that they had me fly around the country as a GMAT Master Trainer training new instructors. At the risk of sounding like a total geek (or perhaps because I own my geekiness), the GMAT is awesome!!

Wait, what? You disagree? Well, Work with THAT DUDE and let my enthusiasm for this thing rub off on you (remember that bit about getting good at the things we love?)!!!

The GRE is okay, too, by the way, and there are some meaningful overlaps between the two tests. I just love the GMAT.

Should you take the GMAT or GRE?

If you're not going to business school, it's the GRE!

If you are going to business school, almost every one that uses a standardized test as part of its admissions review will accept either the GMAT or the GRE. So which one should you take? There are dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of articles, blog posts, YouTube videos, and cave wall etchings about the pros and cons of each test. Here's THAT DUDE's take.

The first thing most people mention when discussing the differences is about math, so let's start with math. The common refrain is that the GMAT math is harder because it can include more difficult topics and more challenging variations of those topics. That might be true, but it generally only matters if you're breaking 700 on the GMAT. If you aren't, then the material tested tends to be reasonably similar and the decision comes down to how that material is tested. And even if you are breaking 700, the question formats may have a bigger impact than the material. The big difference between the math sections for most students (and perhaps even for the highest scorers) is in the question types. The GMAT includes Data Sufficiency whereas the GRE includes Quantitative Comparisons, and the GMAT is 100% one-answer multiple choice while the GRE also includes multiple-choice questions that ask you to select one or more correct responses as well as Numeric Entry questions, which don't have any answer choices provided. The techniques and psychologies for each of these is different, so figuring out which fits better for how you think can be an important factor.

It doesn't get enough press, but the difference between the verbal sections of the two tests is just as important in deciding which is the better option for each student. GMAT places more emphasis on sentence structure and syntax; GRE emphasizes vocabulary. If you're a grammar nerd and awesome at editing, the GMAT might be a better fit. If you have a pointy-end-of-the-bell-curve vocabulary, the GRE could be a better choice. If you struggle with both but are willing to put in the work, it's easier for most people to spend a few months memorizing vocabulary than it is to get comfortable with grammar rules.