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26 August 2023

5 minutes read

GRE vs SAT: Key Differences You Need To Know

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Introduction

The GRE and SAT are two important standardized tests that students take for admission to universities in the United States and other countries. Although both are critical, there are notable differences between them.

This article will discuss the GRE vs SAT debate, highlighting the key differences, and assisting you in deciding which test is more suitable for your study abroad plans.

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Is GRE Harder Than SAT?

Difficulty Level

The difficulty of the GRE and SAT cannot be directly compared as they are designed for different purposes and test different skills. However, the GRE is generally considered more challenging due to the advanced math and vocabulary it includes.

It is also taken by students who have already completed their undergraduate studies and therefore have a higher level of knowledge and experience.The GRE expects test-takers to have a strong command of high-level vocabulary, comprehensive reading comprehension skills, and the ability to analyze and evaluate written material.

The quantitative reasoning section of the GRE involves complex word problems and questions on data interpretation, which require a strong understanding of algebra, arithmetic, geometry, and data analysis.On the other hand, the SAT assesses a high school student’s readiness for college and is designed to test skills that are taught in high school.

The math section of the SAT involves algebra, arithmetic, geometry, and some basic trigonometry, but it does not include questions on data interpretation or complex word problems.

The verbal section of the SAT focuses on reading comprehension and vocabulary in context, but it does not require the same level of advanced vocabulary as the GRE.

Type of Questions

In the GRE, the verbal reasoning section includes reading comprehension, text completion, and sentence equivalence questions. The quantitative reasoning section includes quantitative comparisons, multiple-choice questions, and data interpretation questions.

The analytical writing section includes two tasks: analyze an issue and analyze an argument.In the SAT, the evidence-based reading and writing section includes reading comprehension and writing and language questions.

The math section includes multiple-choice questions and grid-ins (questions where you fill in your answer). The optional essay section asks you to analyze a passage and explain how the author builds an argument.

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Purpose of the Test

The purpose of the GRE is to assess a candidate’s suitability for graduate-level study, whereas the SAT is designed to assess a candidate’s readiness for college-level study. Therefore, the GRE includes questions and tasks that require a higher level of critical thinking, analysis, and reasoning skills, which makes it more challenging than the SAT.

Test-Taker Demographics

The GRE is taken by individuals who have already completed an undergraduate degree and are seeking admission to graduate programs. These individuals usually have a higher level of knowledge, skills, and experience compared to high school students.

On the other hand, the SAT is typically taken by high school juniors and seniors who have not yet completed their undergraduate studies. This difference in the test-taker demographics also contributes to the perception that the GRE is harder than the SAT.

Overall, while it is not entirely appropriate to compare the difficulty of the GRE and SAT directly as they serve different purposes and assess different skills, it is generally accepted that the GRE is more challenging due to the advanced math and vocabulary it includes, the higher level of critical thinking and analysis required, and the demographic of the test-takers.

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Preparing for the Tests

GRE Preparation

To prepare for the GRE, it is essential to have a strong vocabulary and a solid understanding of advanced math concepts. Practice is key to performing well on the GRE. Start by taking a diagnostic test to identify your strengths and weaknesses.

Create a study plan that focuses on your weak areas but also reinforces your strengths. Use official GRE prep materials and practice tests to familiarize yourself with the question format and the adaptive nature of the test.

Time management is crucial, so practice answering questions within the allotted time. Moreover, it is important to work on improving your writing skills for the Analytical Writing section. Practice writing essays on various topics and seek feedback to improve your structure, coherence, and language.

SAT Preparation

For the SAT, it is important to have a good grasp of high school level math concepts and strong reading and writing skills. Start your preparation by taking a diagnostic test to identify areas that need improvement.

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Create a study plan that allocates time for practicing each section of the test. Utilize official SAT prep materials and practice tests to get used to the question format and timing.

Additionally, practicing essay writing is important if you choose to take the optional essay section. Develop your reading comprehension skills by reading a variety of texts and practicing answering questions about the main ideas, details, and inferences. For the math section, practice solving problems without a calculator as one part of the SAT math section does not allow the use of a calculator.

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Test Day Tips

GRE Test Day Tips

  • Get a good night’s sleep before the test day.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast.
  • Arrive at the test center early to avoid any last-minute stress.
  • Bring your ID and confirmation email.
  • Stay calm and stay positive.
  • Read the questions carefully and manage your time wisely.
  • Use the scratch paper provided to jot down notes and calculations.
  • If you are taking the computer-based test, take advantage of the preview and review features to navigate through the questions and make sure you have answered all of them.

SAT Test Day Tips

  • Get a good night’s sleep before the test.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast.
  • Arrive at the test center early.
  • Bring your admission ticket, photo ID, pencils, and a calculator.
  • Stay relaxed and confident.
  • Read the questions carefully and pace yourself.
  • Answer the questions you know first and then go back to the more difficult ones.
  • Use the process of elimination to narrow down the answer choices.

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Additional Resources

GRE Resources

  • ETS Official GRE Guide
  • Magoosh GRE Prep
  • Manhattan Prep GRE Utilize the official GRE guide from ETS to familiarize yourself with the format and types of questions on the test. Magoosh and Manhattan Prep offer online courses and practice tests that can help you prepare for the GRE effectively.
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SAT Resources

  • College Board Official SAT Study Guide
  • Khan Academy SAT Prep
  • Princeton Review SAT Prep The official SAT study guide from the College Board includes practice tests and detailed explanations of the answers. Khan Academy offers free online resources and practice exercises for the SAT. The Princeton Review offers online and in-person SAT prep courses.

Final Thoughts

Making an Informed Decision

 It is important to understand the differences between the GRE and SAT and to choose the test that aligns with your academic goals and career aspirations. Thorough preparation is key to success on both tests.

Remember to stay positive, practice regularly, and manage your time effectively during the test. Additionally, consider the requirements of the universities and programs you are applying to. Some universities may have specific score requirements or preferences for one test over the other.

FAQs

Can I take the GRE instead of the SAT for undergraduate admissions?

No, the GRE is for graduate admissions, whereas the SAT is for undergraduate admissions.

Is the GRE math section harder than the SAT math section?

Yes, the GRE math section is generally considered more challenging as it includes more advanced topics and questions.

Can I take the GRE and SAT on the same day?

It is not recommended to take both tests on the same day as it can be very exhausting and may affect your performance on both tests.

How long are the GRE and SAT scores valid?

GRE scores are valid for five years from the date of the test. SAT scores are valid indefinitely, but most colleges prefer scores from tests taken within the last two years.

Can I use a calculator on the GRE and SAT?

Yes, a calculator is allowed for the Quantitative Reasoning section of the GRE and the Math section of the SAT. For the GRE, an on-screen calculator is provided for the computer-based test, and a handheld calculator is provided for the paper-based test. For the SAT, you must bring your own calculator.

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