Using the GRE to Avoid the GMAT

For several years now, MBA applicants who dreaded the GMAT were rejoicing over schools increasingly allowing the GRE as an alternate entrance exam.  The rejoicing is still going on, but not for the reason you may think.

We recently blogged that the GRE party is over because the news and media outlets who rate business schools are now converting GRE scores to GMAT scores when tallying school rankings.  While it may appear that this “loophole” has closed, the one thing you should know is that when it comes to individual schools, their GMAT averages still contain only GMAT scores. 

If you are thoroughly confused, you’re in good company, since this may be GMAC's greatest advantage. 

While GMAC, the creators and administrators of the GMAT exam, would love for you to think the GRE is a risky alternative, the fact of the matter is, schools still encourage the GRE for applicants who are otherwise competitive, but for whatever reason are not able to post a good GMAT score.   The reason for this is a nuance, but an important one. 

When a school publishes their official GMAT average, they are only required to use GMAT scores, not converted GRE scores. 

So, while the rankings boards are formulaically factoring in GRE scores, the schools themselves can still avoid averaging in your lower GMAT score by accepting your GRE score instead. 

The bad news is, the GRE has become so popular as an alternative, that the average GRE score has also risen. 

In fact, the test is so common now in MBA world, that you can even find the average GRE scores published for top schools.  Eventually, we may find everyone simply publishing both scores and using them interchangeably.  This could potentially end the advantage for keeps, as it wouldn’t matter which test you choose, because for either one you’d have a highly competitive score you’d be required to post in order to get attention.

So while the GRE party may indeed be over as compared to how things were in the early days of its acceptance, you can currently still use it to your advantage, depending on where you apply. 

If you are targeting a school with a small student body (and any ding to their GMAT score carries more weight), the GRE can take that problem off the table for you.  Of course the key is to be otherwise attractive in your application.  This is where we can help.

To find out more about your options and how we can guide your business school application process, email us at or contact us via