Exams Know-how

GMAT vs IELTS: Know About Difference Between IELTS vs GMAT

Kashyap Matani

If you are from a non-English speaking country willing to pursue a management program at the top business schools abroad, it is mandatory to have a decent GMAT and IELTS score. They are the most common and widely accepted exams. But both GMAT and IELTS are different and play a vital role in your admission process. 

The GMAT is a management entrance exam that checks your reasoning, analytical, quantitative and verbal skills whereas the IELTS is a language-based exam which checks your language ability skills. Many times students can get perplexed when it comes to knowing the exact difference between IELTS and GMAT. This blog will give you information about GMAT vs IELTS in different scenarios.

  Table of Contents:

  1. Overview of IELTS and GMAT Exams
  2. GMAT vs IELTS: Key Differences
  3. IELTS vs GMAT: Differences in Sections, Numbers and Types of Questions 
  4. IELTS vs GMAT: Eligibility Criteria
  5. IELTS vs GMAT: Syllabus and Marking Scheme 
  6. IELTS vs GMAT: Fee Structure 
  7. IELTS vs GMAT: Competition and Level of Difficulty 
  8. IELTS vs GMAT: Which One to Consider?

Overview of IELTS and GMAT Exams

Before we head towards the GMAT or IELTS, which is better, let us have a quick look at what GMAT and IELTS are.

What is GMAT?

Graduate Management Admission Test or GMAT is an entrance exam that is required for admission to graduate programs at top B-schools abroad. The GMAT exam is conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).

The GMAT scores are a mandatory requirement for getting into the Top B-Schools and the affiliated management universities worldwide. The exam is conducted in two ways: GMAT in person and GMAT Online.

What is IELTS?

The International English Language Testing Examination or IELTS is a language proficiency test accepted by thousands of abroad colleges in the world. The examination is structured in a way that can effectively assess the students' English language ability.

This entrance test was first developed and administered by some organisations i.e. British Council, IDP Education and Cambridge Assessment English in 1989. The IELTS scores are also accepted by almost every university abroad worldwide.

Suggested: Colleges Accepting GMAT

Now that you know about the two exams, let's have a quick glance over the IELTS and GMAT key differences:

GMAT vs IELTS: Key Differences

The key difference between GMAT and IELTS is that the latter is a graduate management admission exam that helps you to get into MBA or EMBA related programs across the world. Whereas IELTS is a language test which is accepted by every abroad institution worldwide.

The following IELTS and GMAT difference chart will give you a quick look at some crucial aspects related to both the exam along with highlighting the key difference between GMAT vs IELTS:




Total Students Appeared in 2021

30 Lakhs

Around 2 lakhs


48 times

Five times 

Scoring Range






Total Time

2 hours and 55 minutes

3 hours, 7 minutes

Total no. of questions

  • 85 questions

80 questions 

Exam Fee

200 USD

275 USD


Two years

5 years 

Suggested: GMAT Accepting Countries

IELTS vs GMAT: Differences in Sections, Numbers and Types of Questions 

If you are looking, is the IELTS and GMAT syllabus the same? Below we have discussed the IELTS and GMAT in terms of their sections i.e. questions types, time limit etc. Let's discuss it now:


  • Each section of the IELTS test has a time limit and it varies based on its sections.
  • The IELTS paper is divided into four sections i.e. listening, reading, writing, and speaking sections. 
  • There are two different types of IELTS tests which are Academic and General Training tests.
  • The listening and speaking section is somewhat the same while the reading and writing sections vary.

Let us see the exam pattern of the IELTS test:


Total Questions


40 questions (60 minutes)


40 questions (30 minutes)




Question (11-14 minutes)


2 Question (60 minutes)

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  • The GMAT paper is divided into four sections i.e. analytical writing, verbal reasoning, integrated reasoning and quantitative reasoning.
  • The integrated reasoning and verbal reasoning section are computer-adaptive i.e. questions can't be skipped, the page cannot be returned and once the answer is marked you cannot change it.
  • The quantitative reasoning and verbal reasoning sections contain multiple-choice questions.
  • Analytical reasoning has an easy-based question.

The exam pattern is given below:


Total Questions

Integrated Reasoning 

12 questions (30 minutes)

Quantitative Reasoning 

31 questions (62 minutes)

Verbal Reasoning 

36 questions (65 minutes)

Analytical Writing 

1 question (30 minutes)

Suggested: Online Coaching for GMAT

IELTS vs GMAT: Eligibility Criteria

A common difference between IELTS and GMAT is their eligibility criteria. Let's discuss the eligibility criteria for each of these two tests:


The eligibility criteria for the application for the IELTS exam are given below.

  • You are eligible for the test if you have completed your 16 years of age. 
  • As this is a language proficiency test, no specific educational criteria are set by the British Council.
  • Moreover, if you have completed 12th from a recognised institution you are eligible for the IELTS test.


To be eligible for the GMAT application form, you are required to meet the following criteria:

  • You must have completed your 18 years of age to appear in the GMAT exam.
  • There are no specific upper age limit criteria for the test.
  • Since it is a graduate management test, you are required to have a bachelor's degree from a recognised university.
  • If you are between 13 to 17 years of age, you are needed to have written consent from your parents to sit in the exam. 

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IELTS vs GMAT: Syllabus and Marking Scheme 

The next aspect we are going to explore is the difference between IELTS and GMAT syllabus. Let us now understand how the GMAT vs IELTS syllabus differs from each other:

IELTS Section Wise Exam Pattern 



Score Range


Three passages i.e. descriptive, analytical, factual or discursive based

1 - 9 (for each section a band score and an overall band score that is the average of all the four sections).


Four different recorded monologue and conversation


Part 1: Q&A

Part 2: Detail Speaking on a familiar topics.

Part 3: Structural Discurssion


A writing task (minimum of 150 words) and Essay (250 words)

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GMAT Section Wise Exam Pattern 



Score Range 

Integrated Reasoning

The Graphics Interpretation, Two-part Analysis, Table Analysis, and Multi-source Reasoning.

1-8 with 1-point increments

Quantitative Reasoning

Data Sufficiency, Problem Solving

6-51 with 1-point increments.

Verbal Reasoning

Reading Comprehension (60%), Sentence Correction (20%), Critical Reasoning (20%).

6-51 with 1-point increments.

Analytical Writing Assessment

Analysis of an Argument, and Issue Essay

0-6 with 0.5 points increment.

Suggested: GMAT Accepting Colleges in USA

After discussing the IELTS GMAT syllabus, let's have a look at the costs of both tests:

IELTS vs GMAT: Fee Structure 

Coming to the fee structure of both the IELTS and GMAT tests. The IELTS application fees may vary based on region. To apply for this test, you have to spend around 199 USD ~ 15,500 INR for registration. 

GMAT on the other hand, its application fees differ from one country to another. This may include

  • 250 USD for India
  • 275 USD for USA
  • 285 USD for other European countries

Apart from the application fees, you have to pay costs for the rescheduling, time change, slot changing, venue, and cancellation of the exam.

Suggested: How to Reschedule or Cancel GMAT?

IELTS vs GMAT: Competition and Level of Difficulty

When we discuss GMAT or IELTS, which is better? The IELTS test is perceived to be an easier for English speaking students, but it doesn't ensure you that you can ace the test. Dedicated practice and preparation is needed to qualify for the IELTS test. The GMAT on the other is comparatively difficult as it requires you to have great logical reasoning and critical thinking skills.

Whereas, the number of students appearing in the IELTS exam is around 30 lakhs out of which 18% are Indian applicants. However, the total number of students who take the GMAT exam is approximately 3 lakhs every year from across the world.

Hence, we can say that the GMAT is more competitive in the IELTS and GMAT comparison, difficulty level.

Suggested: GMAT Accepting Colleges in Canada

IELTS vs GMAT: Which One to Consider?

Now the final question arises is which one to consider GMAT vs IELTS? Let us find the answer below:

  • Attempting GMAT test will enable you to get admission to graduate management programs in top business schools which may ensure you have a great future. A good GMAT score also gives you exposure to various top business schools and a cutthroat competition worldwide.
  • IELTS on the other hand is more of a language-based test that is required if you are from a non-English speaking country. This is also cost-efficient compared to GMAT. A good IELTS score also offers you an opportunity to apply for other graduate programs.
  • Coming to the GMAT and IELTS syllabus part, the quantitative part of the GMAT exam is highly difficult for students who don't have good reasoning and critical thinking skills. Whereas the overall IELTS test is somewhat on the easier side.

Suggested: GMAT Accepting Colleges in UK

If you are looking to study an MBA or EMBA program at top B-schools abroad then submitting the GMAT score is preferred. And if you are from a non-English background, it is mandatory for you to submit the IELTS test scores. Hence, both IELTS and GMAT are equally beneficial to reach the university of your dreams. For further assistance, get in touch with our Yocket Professionals.


Frequently Asked Questions About GMAT vs IELTS

Which is better for an MBA GMAT or IELTS?

Can GMAT replace IELTS?

How many times can I apply for GMAT and IELTS in a year?

What is the validity of GMAT and IELTS scores?

Is GMAT enough for MBA in Canada?

What is the best IELTS and GMAT score for Top B-Schools Abroad?

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