GRE versus GMAT

You may be wondering whether it’s better to take the GRE or the GMAT. Here are the important points to consider.

1. Anderson SOM accepts either. If you are only applying to Anderson, then in most cases the GRE will be easier for you to get your best score on. If you’re applying to multiple schools or not applying to Anderson at all, see the discussion under point 2.

Why is the GRE better for most people? The main reason is that GRE math is easier than GMAT math. Math is the easiest section to make the most improvement on. (This might seem unlikely to you if you’re not a super math person but with the right strategies, even a math phobic person can make a big improvement in math.) It is possible to make significant improvement on the verbal section as well, but it’s a bit slower. So you get more improvement per week on math than on verbal.

The GRE verbal is also easier than GMAT verbal. There are fewer types of questions and they are more readily learnable.

While the GMAT score is represented by a single scaled number (200-800), the verbal and math sections of the GRE are separate. However, Anderson will combine them when they review your GRE scores, so if you get a super score on one section of the GRE but don’t do so well on the other, it will average out, just as it does on the GMAT.

Given all this, there is no real reason to take the GMAT unless you are applying to schools other than Anderson.

2. What if you’re applying to other schools, as well as, or instead of, Anderson?

Many other schools don’t accept the GRE. If you’re also applying to Anderson, you’ll have to decide if it’s worth taking both. On the GMAT you only need to break 500 to get into Anderson. If you can clearly do that on the GMAT, then you won’t need the GRE. If you can’t, then you may be able to meet Anderson’s requirement with the GRE and then have to take the GMAT for other schools.

Consider, though, that many other B schools are more competitive than Anderson and will need a stronger score on the GMAT. You may need to prepare for the GMAT a lot more seriously than you would for Anderson.

ABOUT US

Cutts Graduate Reviews has been helping people get into business and professional schools since 1990. Our GRE and GMAT prep programs are more in-depth, longer, more flexible, and more affordable than other options.

Jay Cutts is a test prep specialist with over 25 years experience. He is the lead author of the Barron’s LSAT Prep Book, MCAT Prep Book, and MCAT Flash Cards.

Read more about our GRE and GMAT programs

GRE and GMAT Math – What are they really looking for?

Not too thrilled about math? You’ve got lots of company. Even some of the most high-powered business students get a little shaky when it comes to math.

On the GRE and GMAT math is tested in a very unusual and interesting way. They don’t test simple math facts or formulas. In other words they aren’t testing the very things that you probably worked hard to memorize in your math classes. Unfortunately, most prep books and classes focus on the facts and formulas.

So if that’s not what they’re testing, what do they test? Problem solving!

Math problem solving is actually a pretty cool thing to test because it’s a measure of your creativity, not your memorized knowledge. The only problem is that neither university classes nor typical GRE or GMAT prep classes teach problem solving. As a result, you’re likely to find yourself staring at a GRE or GMAT math question wondering what the heck you’re missing.

Over the years I’ve developed a whole set of very powerful math problem solving tools. The great thing about these tools is that they are simple! Even my most math phobic students learn to use them and use them well. A good problem solving tool is graphic, hands-on, intuitive, visual, and easy to understand. This is the exact opposite of the strategies that they teach in math classes and in GRE and GMAT prep classes.

One of my most seriously math phobic students said to me one day, “Wow! I can understand these problems now. How come no one ever taught it to me like this before?” If she could do it, you can too!

ABOUT US

Cutts Graduate Reviews has been helping people get into business and professional schools since 1990. Our GRE and GMAT prep programs are more in-depth, longer, more flexible, and more affordable than other options.

Jay Cutts is a test prep specialist with over 25 years experience. He is the lead author of the Barron’s LSAT Prep Book, MCAT Prep Book, and MCAT Flash Cards.

Read more about our GRE and GMAT programs

Comparing Prep Options

When it comes to preparing for the GRE or GMAT, you have a number of options. It’s a good idea to make yourself familiar with these and do some research before you put your money down for a prep program. There are many options that are overpriced and don’t really address the prep needs of most students. Let’s take a closer look at each of the options.

1. Self-prep. This is, of course, the cheapest way to go. Buy a few books and study on your own. Quite a number of people can do find this way but it’s important to be honest about whether you are one of them. Start by taking a diagnostic test using a real GRE or GMAT. If you score well above the 500 that Anderson is looking for, you may do fine on your own.

If your diagnostic is significantly lower than 500, study hard for a month and then retest. If you are not a lot closer to 500, you’ll probably need help.

2. Online prep. As a 25 year test prep specialist, I can only say, “Yikes.” There are dozens of sites that have popped up in the past 5 years or so. Many of them look great. Please don’t judge a site by its appearance!

Online sites may well be significantly cheaper than a live class or coaching program but are you getting anything significant for your money, other than feeling like at least you’re doing something? Here are the points to consider.

Vocabulary is not an issue on the GRE or the GMAT so don’t waste your time with a site that offers vocabulary review. As I’ve mentioned in another post, the GRE and GMAT math is NOT about memorizing math facts or formulas. It’s about problem solving. If a site is only offering standard math review and practice, it’s probably not worth the price. If you really, really want to do math review, buy a book.

Most sites will offer some kind of practice questions or tests. Some may even offer dozens. This may sound like a great way to practice. In reality, these sites have to create their own questions. I can tell you from personal experience that writing test questions that actually match the patterns of the test is a challenging task. To do so one must be a highly experienced expert in the test. Most of the people who start a GRE or GMAT prep site did well on the exam but have not studied and taught the test for 25 years. More likely they have dabbled in it for a couple years or so. The practice question on such a site are not likely to prepare you for the actual test and may be highly misleading.

Personally, I only use actual GRE or GMAT questions when I work with students. You should too.

3. Live classes. There are a number of companies that offer live prep programs. In Albuquerque these include Kaplan, which no longer has an office here but does offer prep classes periodically. In addition Anderson offers a prep program. And of course Cutts Graduate Reviews has been teaching the GRE and GMAT for 25 years here.

How do these programs compare? I’ll try to give you a perspective by telling you from my experience that learning the GRE or the GMAT is about learning strategy. This includes timing strategy, which is critical for most people. I’ve had many students who got where they needed to be by strategy alone. On the math, as I’ve written in another post, it is not about reviewing math facts or formulas. It is about learning math problem solving strategies that work for you. In the verbal, as mentioned above, it is not about vocabulary. Nor is it about trying to learn to read faster. The verbal sections have specific hidden agendas and patterns that you need to learn about and specific strategies that you need to master in order to do well.

How does this affect the quality of a prep program? For an instructor to teach you the strategies and patterns of the test, that instructor needs to be a highly experienced test prep specialist. In both the Kaplan and Anderson programs, the instructors are nearly always people who have taken the test recently and done very well. But they are not professional, experienced, test prep specialists.

As a result, these programs tend to teach math by reviewing standard math facts and formuals. This is exactly the wrong approach for all but the most math-sophisticated students. For verbal they tend to teach vocabulary and speed reading. These do not get to the heart of the test. In fact it’s virtually impossible to make any score improvement through studying vocab.

When I work with students, I focus on the strategies and patterns of the test that have proven to make a real difference over my 25 years of test coaching. Each student has unlimited one-on-one time with me for as many months (or years!) as they need, so that I can tailor the strategies to that person’s needs.

The fee for this unlimited Cutts program is about half of what Kaplan and Anderson charge for a 6 to 8 week course with limited or no personal help.

4. Choosing a program. When you talk to a specific program, ask them who the instructors are. Ask them how much experience the instructors have. You can assume all instructors got high scores. That’s not what you’re looking for. You want to find out if they are experienced test prep professionals or just hired instructors. Find out how many months of help you’ll get and ask about options for personal coaching.

Be sure to compare your options before you decide on a course. It’s not a good idea to take a course just because a friend is doing it or because it sounds like they have good practice materials or a convenient schedule. If you don’t have a highly experienced instructor, none of the rest will make much difference.

ABOUT US

Cutts Graduate Reviews has been helping people get into business and professional schools since 1990. Our GRE and GMAT prep programs are more in-depth, longer, more flexible, and more affordable than other options.

Jay Cutts is a test prep specialist with over 25 years experience. He is the lead author of the Barron’s LSAT Prep Book, MCAT Prep Book, and MCAT Flash Cards.

Read more about our GRE and GMAT programs