Should a student take the GRE or GMAT to study in the U.S.? And for English proficiency, should it be the IELTS or the TOEFL?

August 27, 2022 04:51 pm | Updated 05:30 pm IST

Before opting for the tests, check what your institution or employer accepts. 

Before opting for the tests, check what your institution or employer accepts.  | Photo Credit: Freepik

Every year, millions of students aspire to study in top universities around the globe. But, many are confused about whether to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Similarly, for English proficiency, students wonder whether it should be the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Let’s look at what these exams are about:

Similarities and differences

While the GRE is for various Masters’ and Doctoral programmes in the U.S., Canada, and other countries, the GMAT is accepted in top Business Schools globally. While both exams seem similar, they are not. While the two have analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning as their prime testing sections, the type of questions, difficulty levels, and the number of questions vary. For example, the GMAT only expects you to write an essay in the analytical writing section, while GRE gives you two issues and arguments to analyse.

While the GMAT has only four sections, the GRE has six. The former lasts for three hours and seven minutes, while the latter is for three hours and 45 minutes. The GMAT has only one simple essay, but the GRE has two: one issue-based and argument-based each. The quantitative reasoning and verbal sections in both have different number of questions as well as marking pattern. The GMAT scores are based on a 10-point increment system and range from 200-800, while the GRE scores are based on a one-point increment system and ranges from 260-340.

So, which exam should you take? If you prefer a calculated and reasoned approach and are looking to excel in the Management sector and to get into a top B-School, opt for the GMAT. If you are undecided about the type of graduate programme you wish to pursue or wish to specialise in a particular section of your desired subject, then, opt for GRE.

Both are computer adaptive, the cost is $205 each, and can be taken all year round, and have a five-year score validity.

English proficiency

For international students from a non-native English-speaking country, it is compulsory to submit scores of an accepted English language proficiency test. The two most common tests are IELTS and TOEFL. Both serve the same purpose but also differ. The IELTS is not taken by students alone but is also used for immigration and occupation purposes. TOEFL is taken only by students for university admissions.

One of the key differences between them is the way they are graded. The IELTS is graded on a band system that ranges from one to nine for each section as well as the overall test. The TOEFL is scored out of 120 points with 0-30 being the grading range for each section. The test structure is similar with Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing sections. The IELTS offers 48 test dates and the TOEFL has more than 50 a year.

Before opting for the test, check what your institution or employer accepts.

The writer is CEO, Educrack. 

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