How Are the GMAT and GRE Relevant to Business School Success?

The following guest blog post was written by Brian Prestia of Reason GMAT:

For many prospective business school applicants, their first encounter with the GMAT or GRE comes as a bit of a shock.  The predominant reaction is:  What the heck does this stuff have to do with business school anyway?  Geometry, rate questions, correcting grammatical errors…how can this be the measure of potential success in business school?

The Real Nature of the GMAT and GRE

What most people don’t realize is that the GMAT and GRE are really reasoning tests -– they give business schools a view into applicants logical reasoning, problem solving, and analytical abilities. Sure, a firm grasp of the quantitative and verbal foundation of these questions helps, but that’s not all it takes. And a less-than-perfect grasp of the foundation can often be overcome by good, old-fashioned reasoning and smart problem solving.

Business schools know that incoming students are going to be inundated with lots and lots of new information. They are not looking for students who can memorize and regurgitate that information; they are looking for people who can think critically and solve problems creatively. The GMAT and GRE are designed to reward those kinds of skills and punish attempts to just memorize rules and formulas.

How Can This Help With Test Preparation?

Most people never quite realize this fact, so their scores suffer. They prepare for the GMAT and GRE like they would prepare for a final exam and then don’t understand why all of that “studying” did not pay off. Instead, it’s important to align yourself with what the exam really measures. Quantitative questions cannot be seen as just “math” questions; they need to be viewed as “problems” that need to be solved. And often a creative approach to the questions — especially the hard ones — is rewarded over straight-forward math.

The same holds true on the Verbal sections of the exams. For example, Sentence Correction on the GMAT would seem on the surface to be a measure of one’s grammar knowledge. However, Sentence Correction questions are as much about logical thinking and analytical ability as they are about grammar, if not more. Spotting a seemingly minor difference in the answer choices, for example, is about having the analytical eye to look for and locate that difference in the first place.

Testing Time Management Skills

Another feature of the tests that most people bemoan is the seemingly unfair time constraint. Yet again, this aspect of the tests is indeed related to business school success. In graduate school, you will have way too much to do and not enough time in which to do it. To succeed, you have to be very good at prioritizing and managing your time so that you can accomplish what is essential and let go of what is less important. And so the GMAT and GRE challenge test takers by giving them less time than they probably need to perfectly accomplish the task.

Moving Toward an Appreciation of the Tests

Where does all of this lead? First and foremost, we hope it changes your perspective from hating the tests to appreciating why they are relevant. This does not mean that if you do not achieve a really high score you are not meant for business school. The GMAT and GRE are just one factor among many considered, and there are plenty of people who struggle with the exams and are enormously successful in business school. But by understanding the tests for what they are, the job of preparing for them becomes much more palatable, perhaps even enjoyable. And the byproduct of that will almost certainly be greater success on the tests.


[Brian Prestia is a NYC-based and online GMAT and GRE tutor with a near perfect score on both exams and over decade of experience preparing people for the tests. To learn more please visit or .] 

[For general MBA admissions advice, contact Shine at]


© Shine/ MBA Admissions Consulting, November 11, 2015, 8:17am PST


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