GMAT Focus vs GMAT vs GRE


As more students seek to enhance their academic qualifications and global exposure, the importance of standardized tests in securing admission to prestigious universities abroad cannot be overstated. Among the myriads of options available, the GMAT Focus, GMAT, and GRE stand out as key contenders. Each test has its unique attributes and caters to different academic and professional aspirations. This blog aims to demystify these tests, providing a comprehensive comparison to help prospective students make an informed decision on which test aligns best with their goals.

Overview of GMAT Focus, GMAT, and GRE

GMAT Focus:

The GMAT Focus is a specialized version of the traditional GMAT, tailored to meet specific needs of candidates aiming for business school admissions. It retains the core elements of the GMAT but includes enhanced features designed to assess a candidate’s analytical, quantitative, and verbal skills with greater precision. The GMAT Focus is particularly noted for its emphasis on real-world business scenarios, making it highly relevant for MBA aspirants.

  • Purpose: Designed primarily for MBA and other business-related graduate programs.
  • Structure: Typically includes sections on Quantitative reasoning, Verbal reasoning, and Data Insights.
  • Unique Features: Emphasis on practical business scenarios and problem-solving skills, making it highly suitable for prospective business school students.


The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a globally recognized standardized test that assesses a candidate’s aptitude in analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning. It is widely accepted by business schools as a reliable measure of a candidate’s readiness for graduate-level management education.

  • Purpose: Used primarily for admissions to MBA, Master of Accountancy, and other graduate management programs.
  • Structure: Comprises four main sections – Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, and Verbal.
  • Unique Features: Known for its challenging quantitative and verbal sections, which test a candidate’s critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.


The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a versatile standardized test accepted by a wide range of graduate and business schools worldwide. Unlike the GMAT, which is focused on business school admissions, the GRE is used for a broader spectrum of graduate programs, including humanities, sciences, and engineering.

  • Purpose: Accepted for a variety of graduate programs, including business, law, and other disciplines.
  • Structure: Includes sections on Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning.
  • Unique Features: Offers a more diverse range of question types and is often seen as more flexible regarding the types of programs it supports.

Key Differences Between GMAT Focus, GMAT, and GRE

Content and Structure:

  • GMAT Focus:
    • Sections: Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Data Insights.
    • Duration: Approximately 2.15 hours.
    • Unique for its integration of real-world business problems.
  • GMAT:
    • Sections: Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal.
    • Duration: Approximately 3.5 hours.
    • Known for its emphasis on quantitative skills and critical reasoning.
  • GRE:
    • Sections: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning.
    • Duration: Approximately 1.58 hours.
    • Offers a broader range of verbal and quantitative questions, and allows for more varied academic backgrounds.

Scoring Systems:

  • GMAT Focus:
    • Scaled score range: Typically from 205 to 805.
    • Includes separate scores for each section and an overall score.
  • GMAT:
    • Scaled score range: 200 to 800.
    • Provides individual scores for each section (Analytical Writing, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal) and a total score.
  • GRE:
    • Scaled score range: Verbal and Quantitative sections scored between 130-170 each, and Analytical Writing scored between 0-6.
    • Provides scores for each section and a composite score.

Test Availability and Locations:

  • GMAT Focus:
    • Availability: Offered multiple times a year at various testing centres worldwide.
    • Locations: Numerous global testing centers, with options for online testing.
  • GMAT:
    • Availability: Available year-round at designated testing centers globally.
    • Locations: Extensive network of test centers and online testing options.
  • GRE:
    • Availability: Offered throughout the year, with frequent test dates.
    • Locations: Widely available at numerous test centers and online.

Suitability for Different Programs

Business Schools:

When it comes to MBA admissions, both the GMAT and GRE are widely accepted, but there are some nuances in preferences and suitability.

  • GMAT Focus and GMAT: Traditionally, the GMAT has been the gold standard for business school admissions. It is specifically designed to test skills that are considered crucial for success in business school, such as quantitative reasoning, data interpretation, and critical thinking. The GMAT Focus, a newer variant, retains these core elements while emphasizing practical business scenarios, making it a strong contender for MBA applicants. Many top business schools, including Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton, still have a high percentage of applicants submitting GMAT scores​ (Find a Coach. Go Places. | Leland)​​ (Harvard Business School)​.
  • GRE: The GRE is increasingly accepted by business schools due to its broader applicant pool. Schools like MIT Sloan, Yale SOM, and Columbia Business School accept GRE scores, allowing candidates from diverse academic backgrounds to apply. The GRE’s structure, which includes more straightforward math questions and a significant focus on verbal reasoning, makes it suitable for those who may excel in verbal and analytical writing but are less confident in advanced quantitative sections​ (Find a Coach. Go Places. | Leland)​​ (Opportunities Pedia)​.

Other Graduate Programs:

  • The GRE is the go-to test for a variety of non-business graduate programs, including humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Its acceptance is nearly universal among graduate schools worldwide, making it a versatile choice for students who may consider multiple disciplines.
  • While the GMAT is less commonly accepted outside of business programs, some specialized master’s programs, particularly in finance and management, may still consider GMAT scores.

Preparation Strategies

Study Materials and Resources:

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  • GMAT Focus and GMAT:
    • Books: Recommended resources include the “Official Guide for GMAT Review,” “GMAT Advanced Quant,” and Kaplan’s “GMAT Prep Plus.”
    • Online Resources: GMAC offers official practice exams and question banks. Websites like Manhattan Prep and Magoosh provide comprehensive study plans and practice questions.
    • Courses: Prep courses from Kaplan, Princeton Review, and Manhattan Prep offer structured study schedules and expert guidance.
  • GRE:
    • Books: The “Official GRE Guide” by ETS, “Manhattan Prep GRE Strategy Guides,” and “Kaplan’s GRE Prep Plus” are popular choices.
    • Online Resources: ETS provides official practice tests and a question bank. Magoosh and Manhattan Prep offer extensive online practice questions and tailored study plans.
    • Courses: Kaplan and Princeton Review offer GRE prep courses with live instruction and practice tests.

Practice Tests:

Taking practice tests is crucial for both GMAT and GRE preparation. These tests help familiarize you with the format, timing, and types of questions you will encounter.

  • GMAT: Official GMAT practice tests from GMAC are highly recommended. Additional practice can be found through platforms like Manhattan Prep and Magoosh.
  • GRE: ETS offers two free official GRE practice tests, with additional tests available for purchase. Magoosh and Kaplan also provide practice tests that mimic the actual test conditions.

Time Management Tips:

Effective time management strategies can significantly impact your performance.

  • GMAT Focus and GMAT:
    • Focus on pacing to ensure you can complete each section within the allotted time.
    • Practice data sufficiency and critical reasoning questions, which are unique to the GMAT.
    • Use a timer when practicing to simulate test conditions.
  • GRE:
    • Allocate time based on the number of questions and their difficulty.
    • Prioritize vocabulary building for the verbal section.
    • Practice completing the analytical writing tasks within the 30-minute time limit.

Cost and Financial Considerations

GMAT Costs

  • Standard GMAT Fees: The registration fee for the GMAT is $275 for the test center version and $300 for the online version. This fee includes the cost of the exam and sending your scores to up to five programs of your choice.
  • Rescheduling Fees: If you need to reschedule your GMAT exam, the fees vary based on the timing:
    • More than 60 days before the test: $55 (test center) or $60 (online)
    • 15-60 days before the test: $110 (test center) or $120 (online)
    • 1-14 days before the test: $165 (test center) or $180 (online)
  • Cancellation Fees: Cancelling your GMAT exam also incurs costs:
    • More than 60 days before the test: $165 fee, with a $110 refund
    • 15-60 days before the test: $195 fee, with an $80 refund
    • 1-14 days before the test: $220 fee, with a $55 refund

GRE Costs

  • Standard GRE Fees: The registration fee for the GRE is $220 in most locations. This includes the cost of the exam and sending scores to up to four graduate programs.
  • Rescheduling Fees: The fee for rescheduling the GRE is $50, regardless of the timing.
  • Additional Services:
    • Changing your test center: $50
    • Changing your test date: $50

Cost Comparison and Additional Expenses When comparing the GMAT and GRE, it’s essential to consider not only the registration fees but also the potential additional costs:

  • Preparation Materials: Both tests require significant preparation, and purchasing study guides, online courses, or tutoring can add to the overall expense. Popular resources for both GMAT and GRE prep range from $30 for a basic book to over $1,000 for comprehensive courses.
  • Retaking the Test: If you plan to retake the exam to improve your scores, you’ll need to budget for additional registration fees.
  • Score Reporting: The GMAT allows for unlimited score reports, while the GRE includes four free score reports, with additional reports costing $27 each.


Choosing between the GMAT Focus, GMAT, and GRE depends on your specific academic and career goals. Each test has unique features, costs, and preparation strategies. For students targeting business schools, the GMAT or GMAT Focus might be more beneficial due to its specialized focus. On the other hand, the GRE offers more flexibility for various graduate programs.

When making your decision, consider your test-taking strengths, the requirements of your desired programs, and your budget for test preparation and registration fees. Ultimately, the best choice is the one that aligns with your long-term goals and ensures you present the strongest possible application to your chosen programs.

For further resources, consider exploring detailed preparation guides and consulting with education advisors to tailor your study approach.

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