GRE Vs MCAT | Top 15 Key Differences

GRE vs. MCAT is always a topic of discussion among test takers. Most people think the GRE is superior to the MCAT, while others think otherwise.

A crucial decision is which standardized test to take for graduate school and your future career. Making an informed choice will be aided by your knowledge of the GRE and MCAT’s distinctions.

Some of the same significant content areas are tested on the GRE and the MCAT but differ significantly in other important ways. This article will discuss each exam’s primary elements and distinguishing features.

GRE vs. MCAT: Which Test to Do

Whether pursuing a master’s degree in the humanities, business, law, or medicine, you’ll likely need to pass a standardized entrance exam to demonstrate your skills to take advanced courses.

You can achieve your goals by taking the MCAT and determining which is best for your postgraduate plans.

Which test you take ultimately depends on your academic preferences, entry requirements for your preferred graduate programs, and your career goals.

Find out how to achieve a perfect GRE score- How to Achieve the Perfect GRE Score: A Comprehensive Guide.

GRE vs. MCAT: An Overview of DIfferences?

The differences far outweigh the similarities when comparing the GRE test to the MCAT.

Both are computer-based entrance exams, but the core test’s material, purpose, and requirements are quite different.

The main differences between MCAT and GRE.

Here is an overview of the main differences between the exams regarding scope and duration. The biggest general content difference between GRE and MCAT is that the former mainly tests aptitude and skill, while the latter also tests content knowledge.

Students hoping to do well on the MCAT must review concepts in biochemistry, anatomy, physics, mathematics, biology, sociology, and psychology.

During the test, they must use and apply background knowledge in natural, physical, and social sciences to answer the questions.

Conversely, the GRE is perhaps best described as a more advanced SAT or ACT. It tests cognitive aptitude and reasoning skills rather than specific background knowledge.

A writing section in the GRE also requires test takers to write two analytical essays.

Students wishing to take this exam should practice writing GRE-style essays based on sample suggestions.

Finally, the MCAT is about twice as long as the GRE, so it may be more challenging if you have trouble maintaining focus or cognitive stamina for long periods.

Learn how GRE vs. LSAT conversion matrix works- GRE To LSAT Conversion Matrix | How It Works in 2023

GRE vs. MCAT: Which Test Should You Take?

The MCAT is generally considered the more difficult of the two exams, the GRE and the MCAT.

It is much longer and more focused on background knowledge than the GRE, which focuses more on general aptitude in specific areas.

Many medical students report that preparing for the MCAT takes 300-350 hours. However, if you are not very good at writing or critical reading, if you are not a native English speaker, or have a somewhat limited vocabulary, the GRE may be more difficult for you.

Whether you should take the GRE or the MCAT depends on where you want to go to school and your career path.

Generally, the GRE is more accepted and used for admission to various graduate schools, while the MCAT is specifically for medical school admissions.

If you are still unsure about applying to medical school, taking the GRE and not preparing for the MCAT may be worth taking it first.

GRE scores are considered valid for five years, while MCAT scores are only valid for three years. So you could potentially do the GRE first and only then decide if you want to do the MCAT.

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It might be a good decision if you decide to go into a health-related field, like public health, rather than going straight to medical school.

Another factor to consider is your potential career.

Schools of certain medical specialties, such as veterinary medicine, may accept applicants’ GRE or MCAT. In this case, it may be better to take the GRE (unless you have difficulty with critical reading or writing), as it is cheaper and shorter.

Find out the differences between GRE and SAT- GRE vs. SAT: Top 15 Key Differences.

GRE vs. MCAT: Top 15 Key Differences

1. Aim/Scope

With the GRE, you can be offered admission to graduate schools, including master’s and doctoral programs, primarily in North America. At the same time, MCAT allows you admission to medical schools in North America, Australia, and the Caribbean Islands.

2. Format.

The GRE is a computer-based exam with some sections that use hard-copy papers, while MCAT is a computer-based test.

3. Length Of Examination

The GRE lasts approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes, including a 10-minute intermission, while the MCAT last about 7 hours and 30 minutes.

4. Costs of Examination

GREs cost approximately $205.00, while MCAT costs approximately $310.00

5. Score System

GRE’s maximum score is 340, with each section worth 170 points; The analytical writing section was scored separately from 0 to 6. Conversely, MCAT has 118-132 for each of the four sections and a total score of 472-528.

6. Test Dates.

GRE computer-based test is offered year-round; the paper test is offered three times a year in October, November, and February.

The MCAT is offered from January to September yearly, usually about 25 times.

7. Sections.

The GRE has sections that cover analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning.

MCAT has sections that cover the biological and biochemical foundations of living systems, the Chemical and physical foundations of biological systems, and Psychological, social, and biological basis of behavior, the capacity for critical analysis, and reasoning.

8. Expertise

The GRE tests your understanding, reasoning, and cognitive skills, while the MCAT covers the same factors and subject-related knowledge.

9. Question Difficulty

The computer-based GRE is also adaptive, which means that question difficulty adapts to your performance.

In contrast, the MCAT uses predefined questions that do not affect whether you answer correctly.

10. Admission Considerations.

In most cases, it depends on the program.

Some specialties, such as podiatry and osteopathic medicine, require specific MCAT scores, while many nursing programs and some areas of veterinary medicine and physical therapy accept the GRE for admission.

11. General Difficulty.

The content and length of the MCAT make it a much more difficult exam.

However, comparing the difficulty of the GRE vs. The MCAT is not the best-deciding factor if your goal is to become a doctor or a surgeon.

Most medical schools in North America require MCAT scores for admission, so taking the GRE is probably not an option.

While you can pass both tests, it may not be an effective strategy for preparation, time, finances, and academic gain. However, if you are unsure about pursuing medical school, the GRE allows you to explore a wider range of postgraduate degrees and consider alternative career paths.

12. Availability.

The computer-based GRE is available year-round at many test centers worldwide, making it an extremely convenient and ubiquitous test. As such, you can take the GRE quite often: every 21 days, up to five times over a rolling 365-day period.

The MCAT is administered seven times a year: once a month from October through December and in March, May, June, and August.

13. Structure.

The GRE and SAT differ significantly in terms of organization.

On the GRE, the analytical writing section always comes first. After that, the verbal and quantitative sections are completely random! So you could have two Verbal sections followed by two Quant sections or one Verbal, two Quants, and another Verbal.

Unfortunately, this means that the GRE is rather unpredictable and potentially more difficult, but we’ll explore this idea later.

14. Adaptive Testing.

As a computer-aided test, the GRE uses adaptive testing to change the difficulty of sections for test takers as they progress through the test.

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With the GRE, each verbal and quantitative section “adjusts” to your ability and automatically changes difficulty depending on how many questions you guessed correctly.

For example, if you start with verbal questions of moderate difficulty and score very well in that section, your next verbal section will be slightly more difficult.

15. Grammar

The GRE does not have a section that focuses on writing mechanics. Verbal reasoning tests your reading comprehension and vocabulary knowledge on the GRE, while Analytical Writing tests your ability to construct a persuasive analysis or argument.

So when you’re given a sentence or passage to analyze on the GRE, you’re being tested on your ability to understand what’s written rather than your ability to improve on what’s written.

In contrast, the Writing and Language section of the SAT requires test takers to edit specific passages to improve grammar, clarity, and overall flow.

GRE Vs. MCAT: MCAT Overview

The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) offers the MCAT approximately 30 times yearly.

The exam is specific to the medical field and relies heavily on knowledge of related topics.

In addition to testing reading comprehension, quantitative reasoning, and writing skills like the GRE, the MCAT assesses your proficiency in several subjects.

  • Biochemistry.
  • Biology.
  • Physics.
  • Sociology.
  • Psychology.
  • Math.

It is essential to understand the differences between GRE and MCAT.

Read this article to find out what you can bring to the GRE test- What to Bring to the GRE Test Day? How to Prepare for the GRE.

GRE Vs. MCAT: An MCAT Score.

All the points you receive on the MCAT are added to give you your final score.

Postgraduate institutions prefer higher test scores, so many aspirant medical students strive to achieve the highest scores possible.

Your final MCAT score will be based, once again, on how well you perform on the four sections of the test.

The lowest score you can receive is 472 after the raw test scores for each section are converted and placed on a scale of 118 to 132 points.

Although uncommon, some test takers may achieve a maximum score of 528.

To improve their MCAT exam results, students frequently try to cram as much information as possible into their study schedule.

Your test results may suffer if you try to memorize too much information.

In this exam, there is no deduction for unanswered questions or incorrect responses, so you can still earn high marks even if you skip some or all of the questions.

What is a Suitable MCAT Score?

What constitutes a good MCAT score depends on the institution you’re applying to.

Some medical schools may be willing to accept applicants who score over 500 points because each medical school establishes its own MCAT score requirements. However, some of the best medical schools in the nation only accept applicants with a score between 512 and 515.

Good test results typically exceed the 500-point MCAT average by a small margin. If your MCAT score is greater than 509, you are in the 80th percentile, which means you have a good chance of getting into most medical schools.

A high undergraduate GPA can sometimes allow you to get away with a lower MCAT score.

On the official website of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), you can view your MCAT results about a month after taking it.

Your results will be sent automatically to colleges that use the American College Application Service (AMCAS).

You might have to use a third-party service or send your test results directly to the school if you’re applying to non-AMCAS schools.

How Long till MCAT Results Expire

After you take the exam, your MCAT score is still valid for two to three years, though this can change depending on the institution.

Some highly selective medical schools will not accept applications with MCAT scores over two years, whereas other institutions might be a little more lenient.

To learn more about the MCAT score acceptance criteria at the medical school of your choice, contact them.

Preparing for the MCAT

It can take months to prepare for the MCAT exam, and putting off final preparations until the last minute is simple.

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You may spend up to seven hours in the MCAT testing facility and are not permitted to leave the proctored area until the exam is finished. Therefore, you must get ready for the test day in advance.

Minor setbacks or a lack of preparation can hinder your performance on a test like the MCAT, which can significantly impact many aspects of your future academic and professional career.

Check the time and date of your test in advance to make travel arrangements and to give yourself extra time in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Have a backup plan in place, whether driving, taking public transportation, or carpooling. Check for any delays affecting travel times, such as traffic or road construction.

A packed lunch is permitted at the testing location. For your personal belongings, a locker with a key is available.

The night before the test, Get enough rest and eat a balanced breakfast the next morning. Even though it can be difficult to resist the urge to study all night, getting eight hours of sleep is much more likely to improve your performance.

You will be in your MCAT testing location for almost eight hours and won’t be able to leave once the test starts, so wear comfortable clothing.

What to Bring to the Examination

Wear cozy clothing and layer up to change your attire as the weather changes throughout the day.

In test centers, students must arrive at the test location at least 30 minutes before the exam time.

Bring a valid photo ID so staff members can confirm your identity and seat assignment before directing you through the admissions process.

You can access food, water, and medications during scheduled MCAT test breaks. After registering, adhere to all test center policies.

Do the same during the exam. Leaving your phone and other electronic devices at home or in your car is always best.

Any contact with electronics is prohibited during MCAT testing, and violations can have serious repercussions.

For the exam duration, you must store all equipment, bags, purses, and backpacks in a locker at the testing location.

To access them during breaks without going against testing policies, remove your snacks, beverages, and medications from your belongings and keep them in the front of the locker.

MCAT Accommodations

A visual inspection should be performed on any items you bring into the MCAT Test Room, though some are permitted without prior authorization.

MCAT Accommodation Services can assist you with modifications if you need medical equipment or if a health condition prevents you from testing normally.

On exam day, pay close attention as the test center staff goes over all MCAT rules and procedures. There are several timed sections on the MCAT exam, breaks, test periods, and practice.

The section on the biological and biochemical underpinnings of living systems lasts 95 minutes, with ten minutes of optional break time.

The section on behavior’s psychological, social, and biological foundations will take 95 minutes. You have three minutes to end the test and not report your results (optional).

The MCAT test is a lengthy, challenging exam. You can focus on preparation and performance by referring to the tips in our MCAT checklist. If you require additional details, the Association of American Medical Colleges website is a fantastic source.

Which Test Should you take between GRE and MCAT?

Both tests are essential to furthering your post-graduate studies. MCAT, however, is for those who want to major in medical-related fields, while GRE is all-encompassing and can let you switch fields.

Does every school accept GRE?

Yes. Every school accepts your certificate from the GRE. To be on the safer side, you should read the admission requirements of your school before deciding what exam to sit for.

Does every school accept MCAT?

Medical schools accept MCAT more. You should also read the admission requirements of your school before deciding what exam to sit for.


In this article, we have established the GRE vs. MCAT differences and how each of them contributes uniquely to your graduate education.

If there are more questions you would like to be answered, feel free to leave them in the comment section below.



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