Should I take the GMAT or GRE? How do I study? How much should I study? These are just a few questions that so many prospective MBA applicants struggle with. Luckily, we have the answers to these questions and many more. We recently caught up with a couple of our Baylor MBA students who offered their thoughts on how to best prepare for the big exam.
Before we start, let’s quickly checkdown for some background on both the GMAT and the GRE. Just like the LSAT is for law and the MCAT is for med school, the GMAT is specifically for applying to graduate business programs. However, the GRE is more broadly accepted across various academic disciplines. If you know that you want to apply to grad business programs (read: MBA programs), your best bet is likely to be the GMAT.
There are a couple of exceptions. Because of course there are!
Exception 1: Many schools—Baylor MBA being one of them—will accept either the GMAT or the GRE. In this case, you may elect to take the GRE if you were, or are, a non-business undergrad student. You may find the GRE to be more accommodating and akin to your learning style as a non-business undergrad.
Exception 2: Baylor MBA has a Healthcare Administration specialization. Students interested in applying to our HCA specialization may be considering other schools that offer a Master of Healthcare Administration—not an MBA. That degree may not be offered within a business school. Therefor, that MHA program might not accept the GMAT. So, students interested in MHA programs may consider taking the GRE irregarldless of what they studied as an undergrad.
Your best bet? Determine which schools and specific programs you want to apply to, then do your research to determine if they’ll accept the GRE, the GMAT, or either one. For more help comparing/contrasting the GMAT and GRE, check out this video by Brett Ethridge.*
Okay! Let’s get back to our two guests.
We recently visited with Wardah Jaffery and Wolfgang Draving to gain some insight regarding their experiences preparing for and taking the GMAT and GRE.
Wardah is in the middle of a 7 mo. residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston as part of the Healthcare specialization. Wardah was a Biology major at the University of Houston with minors in Business Administration and Medicine & Society.
Wolfgang is wrapping up an internship with EControls—which specializes in natural gas engine controls—in San Antonio, TX. Wolfgang was a Mechanical Engineering and Music Performance dual major as part of Baylor’s Honors Program.
Baylor MBA: What are your post-MBA career plans?
WD: Upon graduation, I plan to enter industry in a technical position, possibly pursing doctoral work after several years.
WJ: I want to work in healthcare administration. More specifically, I’m considering the area of operations.
Baylor MBA: How did you make the connection from your non-business undergrad major to applying to MBA programs?
WJ: As a former pre-med student, I have always been drawn to healthcare. I used that passion when I started applying for my MBA to show that while I may not have had all the business skills, I was ready and eager to learn everything I could.
WD: Coming straight out of my undergraduate education, I did not have the advantage of work experience to bolster my application. However soft skills and technical ability are both useful in today’s job market, so bridging the gap from my technical undergraduate program to business school was dependent upon my ability to combine my technical thinking with my interpersonal abilities. Research beginning to show that business leaders are seeking late-career education in the liberal arts to augment their hard skills. Many wish that they had taken the opportunity to study humanities while in college. In short, those who did not study business or technical subjects as an undergrad should not feel disadvantaged when applying to MBA programs. Soft skills often found in non-business undergrad degrees are becoming a key resume-builders in many industries.
Baylor MBA: GMAT vs. GRE… how did you determine which exam to take?
WD: The GRE was my exam of choice; primarily because of friends who had taken the GRE before me. Its format is very similar to that of the SAT, which I had studied for extensively in high school.
WJ: I think more of the programs I looked at took the GMAT than the GRE, and I’ve always been pretty good at math. So, a more quantitative exam was appealing to me.
Baylor MBA: What were your hesitations or concerns as you began studying?
WJ: The last standardized exam I took was the SAT when I was applying for undergrad. So, it had been a while since I’d seen a format with different sections that were each timed separately.
WD: After spending four years as an undergrad, I hoped to be radically more adept at standardized testing than I was when I took the SAT in high school. Yet, upon opening the pages of my GRE practice guide, I remembered the difficulty of the unique skill set required to score well on such tests. Good grades in regular classes are not a guarantee of testing success. I quickly realized that extensive study was required to perform well.
Baylor MBA: How did you study?
WJ: I started putting in a couple hours a day over the course of 3-4 weeks, working through practice problems and taking several practice exams. I study best by myself, so I would sit at my desk at home or go to the library where I could focus without distraction.
WD: I approached studying much in the same way as I prepare for orchestra concerts with the Baylor Symphony: repetitive practice. Coaching materials and how-to books are informative, but they cannot compete with working timed practice tests and carefully reviewing correct answer explanations to help me identify my personal strengths and weaknesses.
Baylor MBA: What all study tools did you use; such as software, test prep class, or books?
WJ: I bought a Pearson GMAT book for the bulk of my studying. I also used the online GMAT software to take a practice exam.
WD: I obtained a book of GRE practice problems from Amazon. For me, I find such books much more useful than instructional books. Especially at the graduate level. After working through the practice problems and reviewing the correct answer explanations, I was able to sell the book to recover much of my initial investment.
Baylor MBA: What would you do differently if were to go back and start the GMAT/GRE process over again?
WJ: I probably would’ve studied a bit more to get a higher score, but I’m pretty happy with how I did.
WD: If I had to take the GRE again, I would double down on my summer preparation during the months leading up to my senior year. For those taking the GRE while still attending college, having to set aside time and mental bandwidth to prepare for an outside test is a distraction best avoided if possible.
Baylor MBA: What advice would you give students who are starting to consider GMAT/GRE?
WD: Practice! The basic knowledge needed to succeed on the GRE is learned in the first few years of high school, but the skills needed to test well require diligent practice. My advice for those preparing for the GMAT and/or GRE is to begin early and invest time in practicing and reviewing the feedback offered by preparation books.
WJ: If you’re good at math, I would definitely recommend taking the GMAT. You might need to brush up on a couple things if you haven’t taken any math classes recently (which I hadn’t), but overall it was not bad at all. It definitely required less studying than the SAT did back when I was in high school, and online resources really helped me with the essay portion.
A tremendous thank you to both Wardah and Wolfgang for their contributions to this post. To ask specific questions about the GMAT or GRE (or any other aspects of the Baylor MBA program), email Wardah and Wolfgang your questions at BaylorMBA_Ambassador@baylor.edu.
BONUS: We’re including a few resources for researching and studying for the GMAT and the GRE!
GMAT test prep resources:
- Curious as to how much time you need to put in to get the GMAT score you want? Check out this INTERACTIVE tool to help you determine how much time you’ll need to study. Access the interactive tool here.
- 5 Ways to Tailor GMAT Official Prep & Resources
- 8-Week Official GMAT Exam Study Planner
- Additional GMAT resources can be found at www.mba.com.
GRE test prep resources:
- Many students have reported success using resources from Magoosh.
- ETS offers a custom study plan, practice materials, and tips. Access those tools here.
- ETS offers many GRE® Quantitative Reasoning Sample Questions.
- Additional GRE resources can be found at www.ets.org/gre/mba.
Disclaimer: Baylor MBA does not specifically ensure or endorse the success rate of any materials that have been listed. It is up to prospective students to research and determine which tools, strategies, and exams fit their individual test preparation needs. Baylor MBA has not received any compensation or considerations from any resource providers included in this post. Baylor MBA has no affiliations with Dominate the GMAT/Dominate the GRE nor its founder. It is the responsibility of applicants to seek updated information regarding the structure of the exams, costs, etc. This video is presented above to serve as a general comparison between both exams.