Admission to the MBA program –

What is the GRE?

Admission requirements for the MBA program at WHU

The Master of Business Administration: 130 colleges, universities, and academies across Germany offer 256 different MBA programs. Many prospective students wonder about the difference between the individual study paths and degree programs. Which one should they choose? And the choice of university is also an important decision. Besides the cost and the format, admission requirements for MBA programs are also a crucial factor. Most universities offering MBA programs have selection criteria that include a statement of purpose, professional experience, a personal interview, or even an admissions exam. Almost all universities have the GMAT and TOEFL or the GRE and IELTS as admission requirements. And so does WHU. So, what are these acronyms all about?

GRE – Graduate Record Examinations

General facts about the GRE

Since some universities now object to using the GMAT as an admissions test due to the high costs of the testing process, the GRE is increasingly finding its place back among these schools’ admissions criteria. The GRE is actually older than the GMAT. For applicants to the MBA program, WHU also accepts applicants’ GRE score in lieu of the GMAT. However, the GRE is primarily geared toward assessing those interested in a master’s or doctoral degree. Since the GMAT is distinctly focused on business content in general, and on MBA programs in particular, the GMAT can indeed increase your chances of admission to certain business schools.

The GRE originated in the United States. It was designed by the organization ETS as an admissions and language proficiency test, and it quickly established itself as a standardized test for acceptance into advanced degree programs. To take the GRE, you must schedule an appointment at one of the testing centers, such as in Hamburg, Berlin, or Munich. The test dates and test centers are listed on the GRE website.

Currently priced at 195 U.S. dollars, the GRE is a little less expensive than the GMAT. Payments for the computer-based version can be made by credit card only. Up to now, the GRE has not generated the same level of business hype as the GMAT. Thus, the practice and preparation materials for the GRE are relatively inexpensive. ETS itself offers various study aids, including some that are free. YouTube also has some preparatory videos.

What does the test assess?

The GRE is composed of three parts: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. In addition to the GRE General Test, it’s also possible to choose a GRE Subject Test. These specialized tests are available for the subjects of mathematics, English literature, physics, psychology, chemistry, biochemistry, biology, and molecular cell biology.

Analytical Writing:   

This part includes two writing assignments, with 30 minutes allotted for each. One involves the analysis of a specific issue. The other involves the analysis of a particular argument (which is provided for the task). The topics are kept general, and the applicants can take completely different positions on them.

Verbal Reasoning:                

This part involves two sections, each allotted 30 minutes (35 for the paper version), and each containing 20 multiple-choice questions (25 in the paper version). Each section contains three different types of question:

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Text Completion
  • Sentence Equivalence

Quantitative Reasoning:                    

The third part of the GRE also contains two sections with multiple-choice questions. You are given 35 minutes per section to answer the questions (40 for the paper version). The paper version of this part contains five more questions than the computer-based version. The questions cover topics from the fields of algebra, arithmetic, geometry, and data analysis.

How is the test conducted?

The GRE is available in two different formats: paper-delivered and computer-delivered. The computer-based version is a little more comprehensive, yet also somewhat richer in variety. Three and a half hours are allotted for the paper version, while the computer-based version lasts three hours and 45 minutes. As previously noted, the test is divided into three parts, each with two sections. For the first part, you can achieve a score between 0 and 6 points. The other two parts are each worth between 130 and 170 points. Each of the three parts is assessed separately. There is not a specific score required for passing the test as such. However, many universities expect applicants to show evidence of a good GRE score. Indeed, some universities and business schools specify a minimum score that applicants must have achieved on their GRE in order to be admitted, similar to the GMAT requirements.

How good do applicants’ test results need to be?

To apply at WHU, your score on the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning parts should be around 160 points or higher, and at least 5 points on the Analytical Writing part. The GRE is also an adaptive test – that is, it responds to incorrect answers by switching to simpler questions and topics – but is not as sensitive as the GMAT. With the GRE, multiple questions need to be answered incorrectly before the testing program switches to a lower level of difficulty. 

A preparation period of two to four weeks is generally recommended before the exam. This is a rather vague estimate, however, since it doesn’t describe the actual extent of the necessary preparations.

Criticism of the GRE

The biggest problem with this standardized test is its lack of focus on practical application. The test questions mainly deal with basic theoretical knowledge. This can be especially frustrating in the Verbal Reasoning part, since vocabulary and terminology appear here that the applicant has never used before and never will again. This excess of theory continues in the other two parts of the GRE. One of the main reasons why the GMAT was developed in the first place was as a response on the part of business schools to the GRE’s lack of practical relevance. The GMAT is considerably more specific to business and analysis, while the GRE deals more with general knowledge.

Some institutions and universities have distanced themselves from the GRE, as they don’t believe it tests the intelligence and skills of a prospective student, but merely a person’s ability to take standardized tests.

It is also worth mentioning that the business aspect of GRE preparation has been growing more in the last several years, similar to that of the GMAT. Thus, the prices for preparation courses and GRE training have been increasing. For instance, a one-week GRE intensive course can now cost close to €1,200. So, criticism of the GRE is hardly any better than that of the GMAT.