mcat vs gre

What Are the Difference Between MCAT Vs GRE?

There are some differences between the MCAT vs GRE. Continue reading to discover more about these crucial standardized entry examinations and how they differ.

June 16, 2022

Considering medical school? You then have an option, unlike most pupils. You can choose between the MCAT vs GRE. The GRE and MCAT are two graduate school entrance examinations for medical, dental, and other professional courses.

Choosing the right standardized test for your graduate studies and future employment is a significant step. Knowing the differences between the GRE and the MCAT can assist you in making an educated selection.

You may find it difficult to get accurate information on the internet, therefore we have included the greatest and most up-to-date information about GRE VS MCAT in the following post.

mcat vs gre

What are MCAT and GRE?

The GRE is more generally acknowledged and is used for admission to a wide range of graduate schools, whereas the MCAT is only used for medical school entrance. Certain medical schools, such as those in veterinary medicine, may accept either the GRE or the MCAT from candidates.

What is GRE?

The GRE, or Graduate Record Examinations, is a more general standardized examination that is accepted for a wide range of masters and doctoral programs in the United States and Canada. The Educational Testing Service writes and administers the GRE General Test (ETS). The exam assesses students’ ability to reason verbally, quantitatively, and analytically.

According to statistics, over 700,000 students take the test each year, and while it is computer-based, paper-based assessments are provided in places where computers are unavailable.

What is MCAT?

The MCAT is the “gold standard” for admission to practically all medical schools in Canada and the United States. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) created the MCAT to assess candidates’ understanding of biological and social sciences, as well as analytical thinking, reading comprehension, and problem-solving abilities.

According to research, over 85,000 students take the MCAT each year, and you must take it as part of the application process if you want to enter a medical school in the United States or Canada.

Although the GRE and MCAT cover many of the same topics, there are some significant variances. We’ll go through the essential components and aspects of each test in the next paragraphs.

What are the similarities between MCAT and GRE?

Both tests are standardized. This implies that all test takers get the same set of questions. The same standards are used to assess their responses.

Both are used as entrance tests by committees to choose which candidates should be admitted to graduate school.

Finally, both tests are computer-based. They, like the GMAT, will be given by a computer system and tailored to your ability.

MCAT vs GRE: The overview of the comparison

The following are the key differences between the MCAT and the GRE:

  • The MCAT is for students applying to medical school, but the GRE is more generic and recognized by graduate and professional institutions all around the world.
  • The MCAT has four sections that assess health-related abilities, whereas the GRE has three sections that assess basic math, writing, and reasoning skills.
  • The MCAT is offered 25 times a year, mostly in the United States and Canada, but the GRE is offered continuously and has a wider worldwide reach.
  • Students can choose to put in only their top GRE results, but prospective universities can see every MCAT score ever obtained.

Below is a side-by-side comparison table to help you understand how each test is structured:

MCAT and GRE: Differences  
Administered byAAMC (American Association of Medical College)ETS (Educational Testing Service)
Test datesOffered around 30 times during the year (January-September)Offered year-round
PurposeMedical college admission testGraduate schools admission test
Subject areas1.      Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems1.      Quantitative Reasoning
2.      Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems2.      Verbal Reasoning
3.      Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior3.      Analytical Writing
4.      Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills)
Length7 hours and 30 minutes3 hours and 45 minutes
The validity of the scores3 years5 years
How many times you can retake the exam3 times a year, 7 times in a lifetime3 per year

In the next parts, we will discuss each exam in-depth to help you distinguish these two exams with every aspect more easily.

What are the differences between MCAT and GRE?

#1 MCAT vs GRE: What contents do they cover?


The MCAT is a test that assesses prospective candidates on the abilities and knowledge needed for success in medical school. The test content is created and updated jointly by medical educators, practicing physicians, and other medical students.

The test is broken into four parts in general. Each part is regarded as a precondition as well as a predictor of a student’s future performance. Let’s take a deeper look at each component one by one.

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

Students will complete questions in this area to demonstrate their understanding of biological and biochemical topics. They’ll also have to demonstrate how they approach scientific inquiry and scientific thinking.

Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems has 59 questions on the MCAT, including passage-based and discrete questions. This course will take 95 minutes to complete, and students will have access to the periodic table throughout.

  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

Students will demonstrate their understanding of basic chemical and physical basis ideas in this part. This necessitates them to answer questions that assess their knowledge of the functions of human organs, tissues, and organ systems.

Section 2 has 59 passage-based and discrete questions, much like Section 1. Students will have 95 minutes to finish it and will be allowed to use the periodic table for guidance.

  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

This section contains health-related tasks that are more concerned with human and social concerns than with scientific issues. There are also 59 passage-based and isolated questions in Section 3. It will take students 95 minutes to finish.

  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

This part follows the format of many verbal reasoning tests. It’s intended to assess a student’s critical thinking and reading comprehension abilities, particularly in relation to medical information.

Each section will be between 500 and 600 words long but will be somewhat difficult. There will be a total of 53 test questions.


The GRE General Test will be taken by the majority of entering graduate students. This is a fundamental, all-encompassing test that covers a wide range of topics. GRE Subject Tests are also available.

There are three sorts of questions on the GRE General Test. Here’s a deeper look at each segment and what students may expect.

  • Verbal Reasoning

The GRE General Test’s Verbal Reasoning section assesses a student’s ability to make inferences and interpret meaning from a range of text types. The questions will be divided into two halves. Reading texts and completing the questions that follow will make up one portion. In the other portion, students must read texts and accurately understand them.

Each part will have 20 questions and a time limit of 30 minutes.

  • Analytical Writing

The Analytical Writing section of the GRE General Test demands students to use the written word to explain and articulate themselves. There are two components to this test. Students will have 30 minutes in Section 1 to study a topic of general interest. Students will have 30 minutes in Section 2 to examine an argument.

mcat vs gre

  • Quantitative Reasoning

Students will demonstrate their ability to grasp and evaluate diverse forms of quantitative data in the Quantitative Reasoning section of the GRE General Test.

For this section, students will use an on-screen calculator. The questions are separated into two sections. Students have 35 minutes to complete each of the 20 questions in each session.

  • GRE Subject Tests

In addition to the GRE General Test, students can take GRE Subject Tests through the ETS. Though this test isn’t normally necessary for graduate school admission, it might help students stand out in a particular field of study.

These tests are paper-based and only available at specific testing locations. Subject tests for the GRE are available in the following areas:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Literature in English
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Mathematics

The Biology and English Literature Subject Tests will be phased out after April 2021.

#2 MCAT vs GRE: What are the timeframes for both exams?

MCAT: Testing timelines

The MCAT is often taken in the calendar year before the year in which the student intends to enroll in medical school.

Between late January and early September, the AAMC administers the test around 25 times. There are hundreds of testing sites around the United States and Canada, as well as a few international locations.

Testing limits

The AAMC has set testing limitations to limit how many times a student can take the MCAT in a calendar year. The following limitations are in effect:

  • In a calendar year: 3 times
  • Over a two-year period: 4 times
  • Lifetime: 7 times

Medical schools will have access to a student’s whole academic record, emphasizing the need for early preparation.

Length of test

The MCAT exam is scheduled to last 6 hours and 30 minutes, excluding breaks and setup time. The duration of the show is around 7 hours and 33 minutes.

GRE: Testing timelines

The GRE General Test can be taken on a computer at any time during the year. It’s offered at more than 1,000 Prometric testing facilities in more than 160 countries across the world. Testing is done on a regular basis at practically every site. The GRE General Test is only offered three times each month in various parts of China and Korea.

There is an at-home option for students who reside in a distant area where the computer-based test is not necessary. This exam is similar to the one administered at a testing facility and is administered under the supervision of a human proctor.

Testing limits

Every 21 days, students can repeat the GRE General Test. This can happen up to five times in a calendar year. GRE Subject Tests, on the other hand, are only given three times a year, in:

  • April
  • September
  • October

If students are obliged to take the GRE on paper, only October, November, and February are available.

Length of test

The GRE General Test takes around three hours and 45 minutes to complete. However, small breaks will be included, perhaps lengthening the overall sitting duration.

Each GRE Subject Test takes two hours and 50 minutes to complete.

#3 MCAT vs GRE: What are their scoring systems?

MCAT: Scoring 

The MCAT exam yields five different results. Each of the four areas described above has a score, as well as a thorough overall score.

On a scale of 118 to 132, each of the four sections is evaluated. The AAMC then adds these scores together to give a total score. This might be anything from 472 and 528. Around 30 days following the exam, students should expect to get their results.

GRE: Scoring

Three different scores are available on the GRE General Exam. On a scale of 130 to 170, with 1-point increments, the Verbal Reasoning part is graded. The Analytical Writing component is graded on a half-point scale from 0 to 6. The Quantitative Reasoning part is graded in 1-point increments in a range of 130 to 170.

On a scale of 200 to 900, with 10-point increments, each GRE Subject Test is graded. Admissions officers can examine every score a student achieves when they take the MCAT. However, the ETS created a ScoreSelect option that lets students provide only the scores they want.

Students will receive four score reports for free with each test, which they may send to any academic institution that accepts them. They can provide scores from that day’s test or from scores they’ve received in the previous five years.

#4 MCAT vs GRE: How do they cost?


The MCAT costs $320 if students schedule their exams in advance. If students wait until eight days before the exam to register, the price increases to $375. Depending on their location, some test takers may be charged an extra $115 registration cost.

GRE Fees

The GRE General Test costs vary depending on where you take it. It costs $205 in most parts of the world. The following exceptions, however, apply:

  • China: $231.30
  • Australia: $230
  • India: $213
  • Turkey: $255
  • Nigeria: $226

GRE Subject Tests cost $150 globally.

mcat vs gre

Which should you take: MCAT or GRE?

The MCAT is typically considered the more challenging of the two examinations, compared to the GRE. It’s a lot lengthier and more content-focused than the GRE, which is more concerned about broad ability in specific areas.

Many pre-med students estimate that studying for the MCAT takes 300-350 hours. However, the GRE may be more challenging for you if you lack writing or critical reading skills, are a non-native English speaker or have a restricted vocabulary.

Whether you should take the GRE or the MCAT depends on where you want to go to school and what you want to do with your life. The GRE is more generally acknowledged and is used for admission to a wide range of graduate schools, whereas the MCAT is only used for medical school entrance.

If you’re not sure if you want to go to medical school yet, it could be worth it to take the GRE first and put off studying for the MCAT. GRE results are valid for five years, however MCAT scores are only valid for three years.

As a result, you might take the GRE first and then decide whether or not to take the MCAT. If you eventually want to go into a healthcare-related area, such as public health, rather than go straight to medical school, this might be an excellent option.

Another thing to think about is your future career. Certain medical schools, such as those in veterinary medicine, may accept either the GRE or the MCAT from candidates. If you struggle with critical reading or writing, the GRE may be a better option, as it is both less expensive and shorter.

How to prepare for MCAT and GRE

Both examinations will need you to improve your reading comprehension abilities, but the subject they cover is vastly different.

Biology, Organic Chemistry, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology,  Maths, Biochemistry, and Sociology, will all be tested on the MCAT. Although you won’t be required to remember all you studied in those classes, the MCAT will expect you to know and apply ideas and information from all of those subject areas. The AAMC advises that a pre-med student spends between 300 and 350 hours studying for the MCAT across several months.

You’ll need to examine core ideas and grasp strategic approaches to each type of question on the GRE while studying. The average person studies for the GRE for one to three months.

Spend some time determining your score goals before you begin studying for any exam. Above all, base your score targets on the criteria of your desired graduate schools. Take some time to investigate the scoring criteria for your programs of interest. Create a study plan and calendar once you’ve decided on the schools to which you’ll apply and set your score targets.


Which is easier, the MCAT or the GRE?

The GRE is frequently regarded to be more straightforward than the MCAT. This is due to the fact that it does not require expert knowledge in a certain subject and instead covers a wide range of less challenging issues. Other examinations, such as the LSAT and GMAT, are more demanding than the GRE.

Is the GRE required for medical schools?

Answer: Medical schools do not usually need entering candidates to take the GRE. Most medical school applicants must take the MCAT to be considered for admission.

Is the GRE more difficult to pass than the SAT or ACT?

Yes, you can. The GRE is considered by most test takers to be more challenging than other standardized examinations such as the SAT or ACT. This is true despite the fact that the GRE’s math section is widely thought to be simpler than either of those two examinations.

What is a poor GRE or MCAT score?

Answer: A “poor” GRE or MCAT score is one that falls below the program’s entrance requirements. However, the poorest 10% of GRE test takers score less than 139 in the verbal portion and less than 141 in the quantitative component. The worst 10% of MCAT test takers have a score of 488 to 491.

What are good MCAT and GRE scores?

A decent MCAT score for all four parts is 508 points[3].

Because the GRE is divided into three sections, you’ll receive three unique scores. Here are some examples of good GRE scores:

  • 4.0 in the writing section
  • 155 in the spoken department
  • 156 in the quantitative section


You should be able to determine which admission exam is necessary for your next steps now that we’ve gone through the MCAT and GRE debate in greater depth. The major difference between the MCAT vs GRE examinations is the main goal.

The school you want to attend and the job path you want to follow determine which exam you should take. Take the MCAT if you’re solely applying to medical school. It demonstrates to the software that you possess appropriate knowledge and abilities.

The GRE can accomplish the same goal, but it is more generic. The analytical writing and speaking parts are two sections that aren’t very applicable to medical school.

We hope this post was helpful in answering your question.

Don’t forget to take our free MCAT practice test at Medtutor to get familiarized with the format as well as the questions of the actual exam to strengthen your knowledge and skills, as a result, enhancing your chance to pass the MCAT exam with a high score on your first attempt. Good luck to you!