What are GRE/GMAT tests?

These tests are used in the application process for postgraduate courses in the USA, Canada and elsewhere. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is the most commonly used with the Graduate Management Admissions test (GMAT) primarily used for MBA courses or business schools. They are also used for entry onto the MSc Accounting and Finance courses at LSE.

The tests measure the applicants analytical writing skills, verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and, sometimes, subject specific options. Each section is scored separately with percentile rankings to supplement university entry requirements.


The GRE test can be taken online and also as a paper based exam. The test is about 3 hours and 45 minutes long and there are six sections; one analytical (with two separately timed writing tasks), two verbal reasoning sections, one unscored task (which will appear at random sometime during the test) and one unscored research task.

You can register and pay online, but will have to go to a test centre to complete the exam. In the USA the test is $140 whilst outside the USA the GRE costs from $170 to $175. Once you have taken the test it takes 15 days for GRE to reach your chosen institutions. Institutions are able to view your GRE results for the past five years.

Analytical writing skills

The GRE tests analytical writing skills with two essays on a given topic; one is an issue task, the other an argument task. Both tasks last 30 minutes each. The issue task topic can be chosen from the two options given while for the argument task you will be asked to write an essay that critiques an argument, by considering the logic of the argument and how you would improve it.

Verbal reasoning

There are two verbal reasoning tests, both 30 minutes long, which consist of approximately 20 questions in each. The tests consist of analogies, antonyms, sentence completion and reading comprehension and mainly tests the student's vocabulary. From August 2011 the verbal reasoning test will feature questions from real-life scenarios. The test is section level adaptive which means that the next question asked will be dependent on the answer given in the preceding question.

Quantitative reasoning

Throughout the two quantitative reasoning tests, candidates are tested on problem solving and quantitative comparisons to test high school mathematics. As with the verbal reasoning tests the quantitative reasoning tests also feature questions from real-life scenarios and are section level adaptive. There are two quantitative reasoning tests which last 35 minutes each and are made up of approximately 20 questions in each test.

During the test

  • You can flag up difficult questions to return to later
  • You can review and change any answers you have given
  • Pay careful attention to the wording of questions, especially those that appear to be very similar
  • In order to maximise your score, answer as many questions as possible


The GMAT test is computer based and tests verbal, numerical, analytical and written skills and lasts three and a half hours. GMAT is a computer adaptive test where the difficulty of each question will be determined by the answer you gave to a previous question. The GMAT is $250 worldwide, and can be taken only once every 31 days and no more than 5 times during one year. An unofficial score is available straight after the test, and the official score will be sent by email or post 20 days after the test.

Analytical writing skills

The GMAT analytical writing test will assess your ability to construct an argument and communicate it effectively in writing, and is made up of an issues and argument section. The issues section will test your ability to understand an issue and its complexities and show your opinion by demonstrating your understanding of the issue. The argument section will ask you to read and analyse the reason behind an argument and critique it. It will not ask for your opinion.

Verbal reasoning

The GMAT tests reading comprehension, critical reasoning and sentence correction. The reading comprehension question tests the understanding of words and the strength of arguments used in the 350 business related passage (no prior knowledge is necessary). It asks that candidates draw their own arguments by using the information from the passage. The critical reasoning questions look for how the candidate constructs an argument and then evaluates it, and then how they formulate a plan of action and how they evaluate its effectiveness. The sentence correction questions asks candidates to ensure statements are grammatically correct and carry a clear message or action .The GMAT consists of 41 verbal reasoning questions.

Quantitative reasoning

The GMAT tests the takers ability to problem solve, reason quantitatively (data sufficiency) and interpret graphical data. The problem solving questions test basic mathematical skills, understanding of simple mathematical concepts and the ability to reason quantitatively. The data sufficiency questions test the ability to analyse problems, choose the relevant information and determine when the right time is to solve the problem. There are 37 quantitative reasoning questions to be answered.

During the test

  • Complete each question as a severe penalty will apply for incomplete questions
  • Do not guess, use your logic to reduce the possible correct answers
  • Read the questions carefully


The GRE verbal reasoning and quantitative tests are given a corresponding score between 200 and 800. The total GMAT score ranges from 200 to 800, with the average score between 400 and 600. The verbal and quantitative scores range from 0 to 60. Analytical writing skills for GRE and GMAT are scored between 0-6 for both essays, and are checked by two assessors for consistency. The mean score is 4.1.

Strategy and tips for the computer-based GRE general test can be found on the ETS GRE website. Prepare for the GMAT exam by reading the Official GMAT website,

Practice resources


  • Chegg GMAT Test Prep

    Get instant access to hundreds of expert GMAT test prep guides, Kaplan's GMAT practice, free expert advice and instant live help from an expert

  • Crack GMAT

    Introduction to GMAT which includes practice questions

  • GMAT MBA Prep

    GMAT and MBA admissions information, plus good practice test resources

  • - GMAT guide

    Guide to preparing for and taking the GMAT test

  • How To Prepare For GMAT? -

    Guide to preparing for each section of the GMAT test.

  • Manhattan Review

    Based near Liverpool Street. Classroom based courses, private tutoring, admissions consulting for GMAT, GRE, TOEFL and several other admissions tests


    The official GMAT website, book your test, practice and get advice

  • Princeton Review

    Prepare for GMAT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT, SAT, ACT and more



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