Exams Know-how

Shorter GRE Vs GMAT Focus Edition: Differences

Yocket Editorial Team

Are you looking to pursue an MBA program but unsure whether to take the GMAT or the GRE? You’re not alone. Many prospective MBA candidates face this dilemma when considering which test to take for admission to business school. With the GMAT and GRE both now shortened, the confusion grows. The GRE vs. GMAT debate has long been a significant consideration for MBA applicants, and recent updates to both exams have introduced new factors to consider. Even those who had previously decided which test to take might now be re-evaluating their choice.

This blog will thoroughly compare the new, shorter GRE and the GMAT Focus Edition. We’ll examine many aspects such as test duration, number of questions, timing per question, and overall difficulty. This comprehensive analysis will help you make an informed decision about which test suits you best.

You must remember that scoring on the GRE or GMAT does not end your journey. You apply to the university that matches your GMAT score, do the loan and visa applications, apply for scholarships and many more. If you feel overwhelmed with all this information, worry not, Yocket is there to help you. With end-to-end assistance and personalized guidance, we will help you secure admissions to the top institutes. Connect with Yocket Premium today to learn more about it!

Table of Contents

Difference Between GMAT Focus Edition and Shorter GRE Exam Structure

Understanding the structure of the Shorter GRE and the GMAT Focus Edition is essential when deciding between the two tests. Key differences include their sections, the order in which they appear, their adaptive nature, and the options to skip, flag, and edit questions. Let us understand each of the features in detail:

Section Type

The Shorter GRE features three main sections: Analytical Writing, Quantitative Reasoning, and Verbal Reasoning. In contrast, the GMAT Focus Edition comprises the Data Insights, Quantitative Reasoning, and Verbal Reasoning sections.

While both tests include three core sections, the Shorter GRE divides them into five parts with varying lengths. Conversely, the GMAT Focus Edition maintains a straightforward approach with three equal-length sections.

For Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning, the two tests are quite similar. However, the Shorter GRE splits these sections into two shorter parts each. Therefore, the GRE has two shorter Quantitative Reasoning sections and two shorter Verbal Reasoning sections.

Interestingly, the total time spent on the Quantitative and Verbal sections is nearly the same for both tests. The primary difference is their structure: do you prefer shorter, more focused sections or longer, continuous ones? This is a matter of personal preference. The longer GRE typically alternates between Quantitative and Verbal sections, and the shorter version will likely follow the same pattern, though format changes are always possible.

Additionally, the new GRE includes an Analytical Writing section with one fewer task, which the GMAT Focus Edition does not have. Instead, the GMAT Focus Edition introduces the Data Insights section.

Shorter GRE: Analytical Writing, Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning

GMAT Focus Edition: Data Insights, Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning

The GRE divides its three sections into five shorter sections of different lengths, whereas the GMAT Focus has three slightly longer sections, each with the same duration.

Order of the Sections

GMAT Focus Edition

Shorter GRE

The GMAT Focus Edition allows you to decide the order in which you want to tackle the three sections, giving you control over your test-taking strategy.

The new shorter GRE has a fixed starting point with the Analytical Writing section. After that, the Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and any unidentified/unscored sections can appear in any order.

Shorter GRE: Computer chooses.

GMAT Focus Edition: You choose.

The GMAT Focus allows you to choose the order in which you complete the test sections. In contrast, the GRE always starts with Analytical Writing, followed by Quantitative and Verbal sections in a random, alternating sequence.

Suggested: GMAT Focus Edition Syllabus 2024

Computer Adaptivity

GMAT Focus Edition

Shorter GRE

The GMAT Focus Edition uses a question-adaptive system. This means your performance on previous questions in that section determines the difficulty of each question. Correct answers lead to tougher questions, while incorrect answers bring easier ones.

If you do well in earlier sections, the first question in a new section may be more challenging than the initial questions of the test.

The shorter GRE, on the other hand, is section-adaptive for the Verbal and Quantitative sections. Humans grade the Analytical Writing section after the test and don't follow this adaptivity model.

In a section-adaptive test, the difficulty within a section remains consistent regardless of your answers. Instead, your performance in the first Quantitative section determines the difficulty level of the second Quantitative section. Similarly, your performance in the first Verbal section affects the difficulty of the second Verbal section.

Importantly, the adaptivity is contained within each section. Your performance in Verbal doesn't affect the difficulty of the Quantitative section, and vice versa. Each section's adaptivity operates independently.

Shorter GRE: section-adaptive

GMAT Focus Edition: question-adaptive

The GMAT Focus Edition adapts at the question level, with some influence between sections. The GRE, however, adapts at the section level, with no interaction between different section types.

Skip, Flag, and Edit

Due to their different adaptive mechanisms, the GRE and GMAT have distinct rules for navigating and changing answers within a section.

Shorter GRE

The GRE, being section-adaptive, allows you to skip within a section. You can answer questions in any order, flag questions for later review, and change your answers as often as you like within the allotted time.

Nothing in a GRE section is final until the time runs out, allowing you to revisit and revise your answers as needed.

GMAT Focus Edition

On the other hand, the GMAT Focus Edition is question-adaptive, meaning your navigation within a section is more restricted. You must answer each question before moving on to the next, with no option to skip, leave questions blank, or answer them out of order.

However, the GMAT Focus does allow you to edit answers to up to 3 questions per section. While you must initially select an answer to proceed, you’re not completely "locked in." You can flag questions for review, enabling you to return and revise your answers if time permits.

Shorter GRE: Skip, flag, unlimited editing

GMAT Focus Edition: No skipping, flagging, edit up to 3 answers per section.

The GRE lets you skip questions and revise your answers as often as you want within a section. In contrast, the GMAT Focus does not allow skipping around. You can only edit up to 3 answers per section.

Suggested: GMAT Focus Edition - Score Chart and Percentiles

Comparison Between Exam Timings

When deciding between the shorter GRE and the GMAT Focus Edition, it's important to consider the time you’ll spend on each test. Let's take a closer look at their durations:

GMAT Focus Edition

The total duration of GMAT Focus Edition is 2 hours 15 minutes. Each section lasts 45 minutes. Here’s the breakdown for the GMAT Focus Edition:

  • Quantitative Reasoning: 45 minutes

  • Verbal Reasoning: 45 minutes

  • Data Insights: 45 minutes

Shorter GRE

The total duration of a Shorter GRE is 1 hour 58 minutes. Here's the breakdown for the GRE:

  • Analytical Writing: 30 minutes

  • Quant Section 1: 21 minutes

  • Quant Section 2: 26 minutes

  • Total Quantitative Time: 47 minutes

  • Verbal Section 1: 18 minutes

  • Verbal Section 2: 23 minutes

  • Total Verbal Time: 41 minutes

The total time spent on Quant and Verbal questions is similar for both exams. The notable distinction lies in completing a 45-minute Data Insights section on the GMAT Focus Edition compared to a 30-minute Analytical Writing section on the GRE. The GMAT Focus Edition is 17 minutes longer than the shorter GRE. However, this difference in test duration shouldn't be the primary factor influencing your choice.

Comparison Between Exam Content

Let's first compare the sections that both the shorter GRE and GMAT Focus Edition share: Quantitative and Verbal. Afterward, we’ll delve into the sections unique to each test: Analytical Writing for the GRE and Data Insights for the GMAT Focus.

Quantitative Section

GRE Math vs. GMAT Focus Edition Math

  • Shorter GRE: Features various question formats, includes Geometry, and allows the use of a calculator.

  • GMAT Focus Edition: Consists entirely of multiple-choice questions, excludes Geometry, and does not allow a calculator.

Both tests cover high school-level math and do not include advanced topics like calculus or trigonometry. The math content is similar, encompassing arithmetic (e.g., number properties, percents, ratios, rates, exponents, roots) and algebra topics (e.g., linear and quadratic equations, inequalities, factoring). However, the GMAT Focus does not include Geometry present on the GRE.

Additionally, GRE Quantitative sections feature Data Interpretation questions that require skills similar to those needed for the GMAT Focus Data Insights section, such as graph and chart analysis.

GRE Quant Questions tend to be more straightforward, while GMAT Quant questions often involve a "twist," making them potentially more challenging. For example, GMAT questions on mean and median might involve sets with mostly unknown values but can still be solved based on given information.

Calculator Use

  • GRE: Provides an onscreen calculator for the Quant section.

  • GMAT Focus: No calculator allowed in the Quant section (only for Data Insights).

Question Formats

  • GMAT Focus: All questions are multiple-choice.

  • GRE: Includes four formats—Multiple-Choice Single-Answer, Multiple-Choice Multiple-Answer, Quantitative Comparison, and Numeric Entry.

Verbal Reasoning Section

GRE Verbal vs. GMAT Focus Edition Verbal

  • Shorter GRE: Includes vocabulary-based questions.

  • GMAT Focus Edition: Excludes vocabulary-based questions and focuses on reading comprehension and critical reasoning.

The GRE includes vocab-based questions (Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence), which require mastering a broad vocabulary. The GMAT Focus Verbal section focuses solely on Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning questions. This section tests your ability to understand and interpret passages and analyze arguments.

Unique Sections

GRE Analytical Writing

The Analytical Writing section, also known as the essay section, appears first on the GRE. The shorter GRE includes one "Analyze the Issue" task, requiring you to respond to a given opinion with a well-structured essay. This section emphasizes your ability to craft a logical and coherent argument.

GMAT Data Insights

The GMAT Focus includes a Data Insights section, which is critical as it contributes equally to your total score. This section analyzes graphs, charts, and tables and includes Data Sufficiency questions. These questions test quantitative and verbal skills, requiring sophisticated critical thinking and information processing.

Shorter GRE vs GMAT Focus Edition: Which is Difficult?

Determining whether the shorter GRE or the GMAT Focus Edition is more difficult depends on individual strengths, weaknesses, and preferences for test structure.

Your skills and comfort with each test's format will largely dictate which one feels more challenging. Certain sections of the GRE might be tougher than the corresponding sections of the GMAT Focus, or vice versa. Ultimately, the difficulty of each test is subjective, and you'll need to choose the one that aligns better with your abilities and test-taking style.


Shorter GRE vs. GMAT Focus Edition: Quick Reference for Difference Between Them

Refer to the table below for a quick comparison between the new, shorter GRE and the GMAT Focus Edition.


Shorter GRE

GMAT Focus Edition

Test Availability

Starts Sept. 22, 2023

Starts Nov. 7, 2023 

Test Center and Online?



Registration Fee 

USD 220 (INR 18,320) at the test center or home

USD 275 (INR 22,900) at the test center

USD 300 (INR 24,980) at home

Total Test Time

1 hr. 58 min. (no break)

2 hr. 15 min. (+ 10 min. break)

Question Total

54 + 1 essay


Number of Sections



Section Order

Computer chooses

You choose

Section Types

Analytical Writing

Quantitative Reasoning

Verbal Reasoning

Data Insights

Quantitative Reasoning

Verbal Reasoning

Question Formats

multiple-choice, multiple-answer, input answer

multiple-choice only

Questions per Section

Writing: 1

Quant: 27 total(12 + 15)

Verbal: 27 total(12 + 15)

Data Insights: 20

Quant: 21

Verbal: 23

Time per Section

Writing: 30 min.

Quant 1: 21 min.

Quant 2: 26 min.(Total: 47 min.)

Verbal 1: 18 min.

Verbal 2: 23 min (Total: 41 min.)

Data Insights: 45 min.

Quant: 45 min.

Verbal: 45 min.

Avg. Time per Question

Quant 1: 1:45

Quant 2: 1:43

Verbal 1: 1:30

Verbal 2: 1:33

Data Insights: 2:15

Quant: 2:09

Verbal: 1:57


by section

by question

Calculator Use

Quant section

Data Insights section only

Section Review Screen

access anytime

at the end of the section

Bookmark Questions?



Skip Questions?



Edit Previous Answers?


3 per section

Retake Waiting Period

21 days

16 days

(waived if switching between online and test center)


Now you know the difference between the Shorter GRE and GMAT Focus Edition. The choice of which exam to take depends on your preference. For pursuing MBA abroad both GMAT and GRE scores are acceptable. If you’re not sure of your commitment to business school, taking the GRE will let you keep your options open as it is more widely accepted than the GMAT for all non-business programs. Choose wisely which exam you want to take and prepare well.

Remember GMAT scores or GRE scores are just one aspect of university admission requirements. If you want to find a university that matches your GRE/GMAT scores, connect with Yocket Premium. We have helped 10,000+ students secure admission at the top universities abroad. You can too fulfill your dream with our assistance. To know more, reach out to us at the earliest!

FAQ's on Shorter GRE vs GMAT Focus Edition

What are the key differences between the shorter GRE and the GMAT Focus Edition?

Can I choose the order of sections in the shorter GRE and GMAT Focus Edition?

Are calculators allowed during the Quantitative sections of the shorter GRE and GMAT Focus Edition?

How does the adaptivity of the shorter GRE compare to the GMAT Focus Edition?

Which test, the shorter GRE or GMAT Focus Edition, has a longer total duration?

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