• 20 March 2019
Smart Test Prep for the GRE and GMAT

Smart Test Prep for the GRE and GMAT

Feb 12, 2018

Tutoring is not only for the young: with thousands of prospective graduate students siting the GRE and GMAT each year, test prep tutoring services are in high demand.

There’s no age limit to learning – and no age limit to who can benefit from personal tutoring!

In 2017, 585,000 aspiring graduate students sat the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and 260,000 sat the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) – two major exams that are necessary prerequisites for many Masters-level or business school programs.

Like other standardized general skills tests (for example, the SAT or LSAT), the GRE and GMAT test a person’s aptitude in verbal and quantitative reasoning, as well as their analytical writing skills. Studying for either exam, therefore, takes some serious test prep.

When should you take either exam?

Generally, a test-taker should give themselves ample time to study the material, take a sufficient number of practice tests to feel comfortable with the material and testing environment, and revise any problem areas.

The rule of thumb is to study at least two months in advance of either exam – which also gives you the opportunity to select a test date suitable to your needs. More on that below.

Which exam should you take?

The GRE is accepted by thousands of universities, and is a prerequisite for admission to many Masters-level programs. The GMAT, on the other hand, is for business school programs only, and is accepted by over 6,500 business school programs worldwide.

It’s a matter of what kind of graduate study you’re pursuing. For business school programs, you might consider taking one or both exams, depending on how comfortable you are with the respective material. (As an example of one consideration, the GMAT’s mathematics section is said to be more difficult than the GRE.)

So, what are the differences?

Taking the GRE

The Education Testing Service (which also administers the TOEFL exam offers the GRE General Test and, for students requiring further specialized testing, say, for a chemistry program, the GRE Subject Tests.

Check out the GRE Subject Test page to learn more about the specialized tests, test dates, and related fees.

For the GRE General Test, most U.S. test-takers will need to sit the computer-based test, administered year-round at centrally located sites nationwide. (A paper-based exam is available at three times a year to U.S. and overseas residents not living near a computer-based testing site.)

The GRE General Test comprises:


Students have 3 hours and 45 minutes, including short breaks, to take the GRE General Test. Your overall GRE score is in the range of 260 – 340, with the 90th percentile of students scoring 327.

Questions include multiple choice and a choice of the correct word or sentence for the Verbal Reasoning sections. Students are permitted the use of a calculator for the Quantitative Reasoning sections.

The GRE General Test costs $205 (as of 2017). For a breakdown of all fees, including the cost of retaking or cancelling a test, check out the GRE General Test fee ledger.

Retaking the GRE

If your scores aren’t up to snuff, you can resit the GRE exam once every 21 days (from the last time you sat the exam), and up to five times within a 12-month period. For more details and all the options available to GRE test-takers, see the GRE General Test website.

Taking the GMAT

The GMAT is a computer-only, business school admissions test, and shares a lot in common in terms of the kind of material students see on the GRE.

The GMAT consists of four sections; the additional section is an Integrated Reasoning section, which tests your ability to analyse data (like charts and tables) and real-world business issues:


Students have 3 hours and 30 minutes, including short breaks, to take the GMAT. Your overall GMAT score is in the range of 200 – 800, with the 90th percentile of students scoring 700.

Questions in the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections are multiple choice. Students are not permitted calculators on the Quantitative Reasoning section – all the more reason to brush up on your inner math skills! The Integrated Reasoning section includes some math questions and an onscreen calculator for that section only.

The GMAT costs $250 (as of 2017). For other fees, go to the GMAT website.

Retaking the GMAT

Like the GRE, GMAT test-takers can resit the exam – in the case of GMAT, once every 16 calendar days, up to five times in a 12-month period, but no more than eight times total. You can read more about the GMAT rules and more in the GMAT handbook.

Tutoring for the GRE & GMAT

There’s an abundance of test prep material available online, some free and others at a cost. The GRE website offers free practice test material, and the folks who write the test have also written a study book. Likewise, GMAT offers free practice test material – and, you guessed it – their own official study guide.

For GRE and GMAT test prep alike, tutors should stay on top of the latest exam material and run through the practice tests themselves to maintain their familiarity with the test.

Research the web, too, to learn more about the available online tutoring options and how your business can remain competitive.

To America’s future intelligentsia and business leaders, and the tutors who will help land them their dream graduate programs, good luck!

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