October 24, 2019
Reading time: 5 minutes
When it comes time to apply to Law School or an MBA program, everyone must take a standardized test. Recently, more and more schools have allowed students to opt for Graduate Record Examination (GRE) versus the LSAT (for law school) or the GMAT (for business school). This has caused some confusion among test takers as to which exam is best suited for you while still giving you a competitive edge for that particular graduate school!
The GRE Format: The GRE is a multiple choice, computer based standardized exam that measures the individual’s readiness for graduate school. It consists of a 60 minute Analytical Writing section (2 essays), two 30 minute verbal reasoning sections, two 35 minute quantitative reasoning sections, and a 30-35 minute experimental section that is either math or verbal. In total the GRE is about 3 hours and 45 minutes long on its own. It is more widely accepted for all graduate programs. A huge benefit of the GRE is that it allows test takers to save and return to particular questions while taking the test. If the pressure of having to answer a question immediately really gets to you, the GRE could be the better option for you if indeed the schools you are applying to accept it!
The GMAT Format: The GMAT is a multiple choice standardized test reserved solely for MBA programs (and in some cases Masters in Finance etc.) available both on paper or on the computer, though it is more common taken electronically. You can register and take the GMAT whenever you want. It consists of one 30 minute Analytical Writing section (1 essay), one 30 minute Integrated reasoning section, one 62 minute Quantitative section, and a 65 minute verbal section. The total estimated time is 3 hours and 7 minutes, not including breaks.
GRE vs. GMAT: Some schools strongly prefer the GMAT (so do your due diligence and check to see what the majority of your schools prefer), while others like Stanford’s Graduate School of Business weight them equally. The GMAT’s quantitative section is said to be markedly more difficult than those on the GRE. They are far more reliant on honed math skills, so if math is your forte, the GMAT is a great way to demonstrate those quantitative skills. Further, the GRE has more geometry based questions, whereas the GMAT seems to favor logic questions. Sometimes, firms in the management consulting or investment banking industries require prospective employees to submit their GMAT scores. You may find it easier to just knock out two birds with one stone when applying to MBA programs if you also see yourself in one of those industries in the future. Also note, if you are applying to dual degrees such as an MBA/MPA, or applying to those degrees separately, then the GRE is strategically a better test, as it covers your admission into not just the MBA program but also any other graduate programs you choose, basically allowing you to diversify your options.
The LSAT Format: The LSAT is 175 minutes long, and the writing sample is 35 minutes long. When you factor in the time for administrative formalities and breaks, the whole process takes between 4 – 5 hours. It is now offered up to 8 times a year (double the number from previous years), and consists of two 35 minute logical reasoning sections, one 35 minute analytical reasoning section, one 35 minute reading comprehension section, one 35 minute experimental section, and one 35 minute writing sample section. The writing sample is unscored but still sent along with your LSAT scores to any law schools you apply for. Starting with the October 2019 test, the LSAT will be administered entirely digitally. LSAT vs. GRE: Law programs at some schools, such as Harvard and The University of Arizona, have decided to accept both the GRE and the LSAT to give graduate students more flexibility and broaden their applicant pool.
The LSAT is accepted at all law schools, whereas the GRE is only accepted at a select few. Though both are administered digitally, the GRE does have more commonly available paper options. Law school applicants who excel at Math and/or Vocabulary, might want to sway towards the GRE, as these sections are not included in the LSAT, thereby giving the test takers the opportunity to leverage their quantitative and verbal reasoning skills. However, the LSAT does include logic problems, where the GRE does not. If your law brain loves logic, the LSAT may be easier for you.
At the end of the day, go with whatever test you think is going to work to your advantage in terms of substance and performance results. The LSAT/GMAT isn’t for everyone, and if you fall into this category, it’s helpful to be aware that the GRE may be an option, but always keep in mind, which school accepts what exam. Emily Gold Waldman, an Associate Dean at Pace University, says that Pace’s Law program began accepting both the GRE and LSAT with the goal of giving more options for different types of test takers.
If you can’t seem to figure which test is strategically best for you, contact Write Track Admissions for a free consultation to solve this riddle! Remember this decision and your performance on the “better” standardized test can certainly have a huge influence on your chances of admissions.
Aly Hartman | Write Track Communication Officer