Testing for future leaders: GMAT or GRE?

Many students who start their MBA in 2012 will be among the first to pass the new GMAT Integrated Reasoning section or the updated version of GRE. Let’s take a look at what the requirements of each test are.

The updated version of General Record Examinations (GRE) started in August last year, in June the debut of the Integrated Reasoning (IR) section of the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is expected ), which only intensifies the debate about which exam is “best” for admission to business schools.

The purpose of the changes in both tests is to make it more reliable to assess the qualitative and quantitative skills of the student both in business school and outside it.

 Real business scenarios

The Educational Testing Service (ETS), the developer of GRE, has introduced new questions to assess the type of thinking and skills that are needed in a real-world management environment.

Examples of tasks of the updated exam are situations related to salaries, the policy-making process and IT, with the help of which it is possible to determine the level of verbal, analytical and mathematical skills of the assessor. Other changes affected the score scale, composition and format of the test. “Exam content is now more closely tied to the verbal and mathematical reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills that are needed to succeed in business school,” explains Sharon Lawler-Sudell, brand director of the GRE program at ETS.

The GMAT IR section has a similar purpose, but there is a special emphasis on the ability of the submitter to select and analyze complex information. Students will have to answer 12 questions of four sections – a description of the graph, a two-part analysis, a table analysis and a numerical logic task. Unlike other sections of the exam (verbal, mathematical and analytical writing), which are conducted on the basis of a computerized adaptive algorithm, IR questions will become fixed.

 A reliable indicator?

 While the goal of the test reformers is clear – to assess the skills needed in running a business – not everyone is sure that through these changes, admissions committees will receive clear and reliable data on the candidate’s abilities.

Brian Galvin, director of curriculum at Exam Preparation company Veritas Prep, believes that the GMAT IR will give a clearer picture of the candidate, especially when compared to the rest of the GMAT sections: “GMAT – It’s a very well-written argumentation exam. But one of its drawbacks is that the skills required to pass seem abstract to students – how will they use geometry as a brand manager? The ability to solve geometric problems is very important, but the content of the test may be a little closer to the field of MBA. However, the IR section tests the same problem-solving and critical thinking skills, but through the lens of a mini-business. It fits well with what you’ll be doing when you become an MBA student and then a graduate.”

John Roeder, head of admissions at Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management, agrees: “In students, we look for the ability to select the right qualitative and quantitative information from numerous sources and draw conclusions from them. These synthesized skills are crucial to a leader’s success in the business world. Thanks to the new IR section, the admissions committee will receive an additional layer of necessary information. “

“The ETS has conducted extensive analysis and is now as good, if not better, than the GMAT can predict success in a business school,” said Andrew Mitchell, director of curriculum at Kaplan Test Prep.

However, some heads of admissions committees are more cautious. Anne Sandoe, director of MBA programs at CU-Boulder’s Leeds School of Business, says it’s too early to judge whether these changes will affect the accuracy of determining a candidate’s business potential.


 More and more business schools are accepting GRE results for admission to the MBA program, however, experts advise those who are fully confident that they will develop a career in business to take the GMAT. Those who are interested in postgraduate education, but they doubt about the specialization in business management, it is better to choose GRE.

“If you only go to business school, it’s safer to take the GMAT,” explains Andrew Mitchell. GMAT is accepted in almost all schools in the world, and a high score will mean that you are a suitable candidate for most programs. However, if you are interested not only in business, but also in other areas, for example, engineering, in this case, GRE is more suitable for you. “

“GMAT scores indicate that the student is 100% confident about the MBA degree and is focused on key aspects of the program, which is a prerequisite in our school,” emphasizes Tami Fassinger, director of admissions at vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management. – Nevertheless, we support those who submit the gre result. If a candidate with a high GRE score is going to earn another postgraduate degree or has gained significant work experience, then most likely he will enroll. We just have to make sure that his career plans are sustainable.”

While these changes make those who will take one of the reformed exams worry, the best way to overcome fears is to plan ahead and prepare diligently.

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