Your GRE Score is Becoming Increasingly Important

The GRE has long been the standardized test of choice for graduate school admissions committees in evaluating candidates across a wide range of post-grad programs.

Over the past several years, however, the GRE has also become increasingly accepted for admission to business school, including traditional MBA programs. The GMAT no longer garners exclusive consideration by b-school adcoms. But just how much has the gap narrowed? How well-accepted is the GRE these days, and how important is it in general when applying to business school?

Recent data collected by the GMAC (the company that produces the GMAT) in their 2016 Application Trends Survey, and by Kaplan Test Prep in their 2016 Business School Admissions Officers Survey, reveal some interesting insights. Let’s look at it in two different ways.

1. Relative Weight of the GRE for Admissions Decisions

It’s common for business school admissions officers to sort of waive off the question of how important the GRE (or GMAT) is relative to the other parts of your application. They generally give a vague answer to the effect that all components are important and that they’re looking for “well-rounded” candidates. They should run for political office with answers like that!

Fortunately, when offered the anonymity of a survey like the one conducted last year by the GMAC, admin officers’ true feelings came out. As you can see in the following table (Figure 1), standardized test scores including the GRE and GMAT play a very significant role in the admissions process — especially for full-time MBA programs and even more so for Masters of Accounting programs.

relative weight of GRE and GMAT scores in the decision-making process for business school admissions

Figure 1: Importance of the GRE in Business School Admissions Decisions

In fact, other than the interview, your GRE/GMAT score is the most important part of the application when applying for two-year MBA programs. Given that a lot of schools only offer interviews to the highest-qualifying candidates, you can think of your GRE score as the gate keeper for the later stages of the application process. From that standpoint, then, one could argue that the GRE (or GMAT) is even more important than the interview.

It’s also interesting — but not surprising — to note that your exam score is even more important when applying to non-MBA business programs like a Masters of Accounting. It carries almost a third of the weight in your application, only slightly behind your undergraduate academic transcript.

I recently put out a series of free videos providing the broad brush strokes for how to dominate the GRE. In the first video in that series titled “GRE Mastery Part 1”, one of the first things I talked about was how important your GRE score is when applying to graduate or business school. These data confirm that assertion.

2. GRE vs. GMAT When Applying to B-School

The other thing to consider when evaluating the importance of the GRE when applying to business school is how it stacks up against the GMAT in terms of its relevance.

Now let me be clear. We’re talking here about applying to business school, not to other Masters or PhD programs. The GRE is still very clearly the standardized test of choice for those.

But when it comes to MBA programs, how well-accepted is the GRE these days?

The following graph tells the tale:

graph showing how mba admissions officers view the gmat vs gre on business school applications

Figure 2: GRE vs. GMAT for Business School Admissions

Interestingly, almost three-quarters (73%) of business schools now treat the GRE and GMAT equally on your applications — and another 2% actually prefer the GRE! That was not the case even just a few years ago.

I remember attending an MBA Fair in Denver back in 2012, and I asked all of the attending admissions officers the following question: Do you accept the GRE alongside the GMAT on your applications? If so, which do you prefer?

I can tell you that the answers I received were very different from the results you see in Figure 2 (above). In fact, almost none of them accepted the GRE for traditional business programs at all. And the schools that did admitted that they still preferred the GMAT.

Those sentiments have clearly changed.

The gap is narrowing, and I’ll be very curious to see what these numbers look like in another couple years. My guess is that the GMAT and GRE will be equally accepted by 2020, with very few schools saying that they still prefer the GMAT. We’ll see.

In the meantime, if you’d like some more guidance on the difference between the GRE and GMAT in terms of which is right for you, check out this video:

If you decide that you’d be better off taking the GMAT, head over to our sister site, Dominate the GMAT, and check out our GMAT prep courses and other resources HERE. Good luck!