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The Full-Time Admissions team is answering some of the most frequently asked questions we receive from prospective students about the admissions tests. While the test is an application requirement, it’s important to remember that it’s just one part of the process.  

Should I take the GMAT or GRE?

From an admissions perspective, there is no preference for which test you decide to take. When deciding between the GMAT and GRE, we recommend taking a look at the structure of each and trying some sample questions. It’s possible that one of the formats will align best with your unique skills. Whether that happens for you or not, you’ll want to consider a couple of additional things:

  • Potential plans to pursue a joint degree. If you are looking to apply to joint degree programs where the non-MBA degree requires a GRE score, narrowing your focus to the GRE may help you focus your preparation and attention on a single test that would meet the degree requirements for each program.
  • Your intended post-MBA industry. Though the recruiting process is continually evolving, there are companies within certain industries (investment banking for example) that will ask for your GMAT score as part of the recruitment process. Doing some research into this ahead of time can ensure that you choose the test that best represents you to future employers.

How can I best prepare for the test?

When it comes to test preparation, everyone has different needs. Some find a prep class beneficial and say it helps them stay on a studying schedule. Other applicants manage their time and prepare well without any kind of formal session. Whether or not you end up taking a prep class, we'd recommend taking practice exams online, which can give you some insight into how close you are to your desired score. Practice early and often! Guides for these tests are also widely available. While the test material is updated every year, older guides borrowed from a friend can still be relevant--and cost effective--study tools. 

When is the best time to take my test?

We generally recommend taking your chosen test at least three to six months before you plan on applying. Knowing that scores are valid for five years does afford you some flexibility. If you are an undergraduate student, you may consider taking the test before graduating as you are more recently exposed to relevant subject matter. Whenever you choose to take the test, give yourself enough time to achieve a score you’re happy with and that will make for a strong application. At the time you submit your application, we only require the self-reported, unofficial score you receive at the end of the exam. 

Any suggestions for finding time to study?

Like any new addition to your time, adequately preparing for the exam means making this a priority. Try finding others who are also preparing for the exams to form a virtual or in-person study group. Setting up a regular time each week for intentional review with your peers can help you build momentum and carve out much-needed time. You can also identify certain nights of the week or a few hours each weekend that are dedicated to hitting the books. Being intentional about how you spend your time and staying committed to the process are the best ways to be successful.

If I'm unhappy with my score, can I take the test again? 

The decision about whether or not to retake the test is unique to the individual and takes into consideration factors like cost, timing, and satisfaction with the score you’ve received. If you don’t think your score is representative of your strengths and abilities, you may want to consider taking the test again. Prior to sitting for the test again, figure out how much time you have until the application deadline. If you are confident that you will be able to review growth areas and improve, then go ahead and retake the test. If you choose to submit multiple scores to Chicago Booth, we will use the highest score as part of the review process.

Regardless of your results, remember that your test score is just one element taken into consideration throughout Chicago Booth’s holistic review process. Be sure to place an equal emphasis on the rest of your application and present the strongest version of yourself across your essay responses, expression of long and short term goals, by selecting recommenders who will best speak to your strengths, and adequately representing your employment history and extracurricular involvement. Working to thoughtfully develop these aspects of your application can also have a significant impact on the overall strength of your profile.

Looking for more application tips? Watch app advice from Boothies »