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MBA Programs and the GRE: Too Good to be True?

Jose Ferreira is the Founder and CEO of Knewton

Recently, some business schools* have begun to accept GRE scores in place of GMAT scores.

Some MBA hopefuls were undoubtedly excited by this news. After all, the GRE has a reputation of being easier than the GMAT. It’s a more generalized test, and, of course-there’s no Data Sufficiency! What could go wrong?

But therein lies the problem: There’s no Data Sufficiency section on the GRE.

The GMAT is perfectly designed for business school students. GMAT questions are engineered to mirror the tasks MBA students perform every day in business school. Reading Comprehension-because you’ll be read­ing 50 -100 pages in case stud­ies every day. And Data Sufficiency-because you’ll be skim­ming each case’s exhibits and finan­cials to deter­mine which num­bers are key to crack­ing the case and which are irrel­e­vant. What about Crit­i­cal Rea­son­ing? Well, every day in class you will com­ment on other stu­dents’ argu­ments. And they will com­ment on yours, some­times in pretty snarky ways. So you need some facil­ity in argu­ments, if only to pro­tect your­self from that loud­mouth ex-banker in the Skydeck.

The GMAT is a great test. No, it probably won’t bring peace or spiritual enlightenment to the world. It isn’t the most fun experience of every test-taker’s life. However, it is very well-constructed, with very high scoring consistency. The GMAT excels at its job: that is, testing the skills you will need to be successful in business school.

On the other hand, the GRE General Test is, well, general. This test is designed to test students’ aptitude for graduate-level work-everything from PhD’s in English to a Master’s Degree in Psych. Obviously, the aptitudes need to succeed in one discipline aren’t the same as the aptitudes needed in others-no single test can adequately measure all these aptitudes. In order to succeed in business, and in business school, you need very specific skills. The GRE doesn’t measure these particular skills all that well. The GMAT does.

So why are some business schools accepting the GRE? Well, the GRE is getting better-and it’s about to be significantly revised in order to improve even more. But mostly, the decision to accept the GRE is about access-especially internationally. Many candidates in overseas locations don’t have access to the GMAT. So business schools figure, “If we accept the GRE, we might just find some great candidates who otherwise wouldn’t be able to apply to business school, and who might add an MBA application or two to their pile of Masters program applications.”

For these candidates, the decision to accept GRE scores is a fortuitous one. But the bottom line? If you can take the GMAT, you should. While admissions officers at schools accepting the GRE will accept a GRE score in lieu of a GMAT score, that doesn’t mean they won’t be skeptical. If you submit a GRE score when it’s clear you could just have easily have submitted a GMAT score, it could definitely hurt your application.

Besides, Data Suf­fi­ciency is fun! And more importantly, Data Suf­fi­ciency is equally hard for every­body. It is also highly coach­able. So even if you take a diagnostic and think there’s no way you’ll be able to achieve a competitive enough score to get you into a top b-school, don’t fear. Knewton’s Test Experts have devel­oped the most pow­er­ful strategies for Data Sufficiency-and other question types-out there, and we’d be happy to share!

Fuente: ibtimes.com

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