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SAT VS GMAT: Find Out The Key Differences!

sat vs gmat

The GMAT and the SAT are two of the most popular and challenging exams taken by students seeking admission to foreign universities for higher education purposes. The Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT) is a test for students applying for graduate programs in Business and Management. At the same time, the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) is a generalised test for pursuing Undergraduate courses abroad. 

However, what is the difference between the SAT and GMAT, and which exam, GMAT or SAT, is ideal for your study abroad goals? Let us find out! In this article, we will explore the key differences between the GMAT and SAT in terms of format, focus, scoring, difficulty level, and other factors to provide insight into how to approach these exams strategically based on your unique goals. 

Purposes Of GMAT & SAT

The fundamental difference between GMAT and SAT lies in the purpose of these exams. The SAT is a general aptitude test designed for entry into Undergraduate programs across foreign universities, specifically those in the USA

  • It evaluates students’ readiness for undergraduate-level courses across various fields of study.
  • On the other hand, the GMAT has a very specific function – it is accepted solely for admissions to graduate business programs (MBA, Masters in Management etc.). 
  • GMAT scores are typically used to compare candidates’ business and management aptitudes. 

Hence, the GMAT has a narrower focus on evaluating skills specifically suitable for graduate-level business education, such as quantitative reasoning, data interpretation, and logical and critical thinking, as compared to the broader scope of the SAT.

GMAT Vs. SAT – Key Highlights

Source: https://way2mba.in/gmat-score-calculator-convert-gre/ 

Before getting into the detailed difference between SAT vs. GMAT, let us quickly take a glance at some of the highlights of these two tests –

Target/PurposeThose applying to study in business school for MBA and other programsHigh school students applying for undergraduate admissions
Conducting BodyGMAC (Graduate Management Admission Council)College Board
Accepted By7,700+ programs at 2,400+ business schools globally4,000+ universities and colleges in the USA and 85 global countries
Exam PatternQuantitative Reasoning – 21 questions/45 minutesVerbal Reasoning – 23 questions/45 minutesData Insights – 20 questions/45 minutes Reading and Writing – 54 questions/64 minutesMaths – 44 questions/70 minutes 
Test Duration2 hours and 15 minutes with an optional 10-minute break3 hours (additional 15 minutes with breaks). It takes 3 hours and 50 minutes with the optional essay
Test TypeComputer adaptive with each question chosen based on the aspirant’s abilityThe first module in every section has a mixture of easy, hard, and medium questions. The second module may be less/more difficult based on the performance of the first module.
ValidityFive yearsTechnically, there is no expiry date
Number of AttemptsFive attempts in a rolling 12-month duration and eight in a lifetimeAs many times as the candidate wants
FeeUS$300 for online and $275 for test centreUS$60 for registration and $43 as regional fee

GMAT Math Vs. SAT Math

While both tests cover mathematical concepts taught until 12th grade, GMAT Maths is widely considered more difficult than SAT Maths. SAT Maths involves straightforward word problems testing algebra, geometry and basic statistical concepts. However, the GMAT uses unconventional ‘twists’ to test advanced mathematical reasoning through problem-solving and data-sufficiency questions requiring multi-step logic. Though GMAT Maths topics are no more complex than SAT, greater analytical ability is necessary to solve problems.

The Mathematics concepts on the GMAT paper are not more advanced than those on the SAT exam. However, the difficulty level of Math questions on the GMAT is significantly higher than that on the SAT.

Data Interpretation On Both Tests

SAT contains elementary data analysis questions included within its Maths section. On the other hand, the GMAT separately examines Data Interpretation skills through its dedicated Integrated Reasoning section. 

These contain tables, graphs, and multi-source elements that need careful evaluation and analysis. GMAT data interpretation questions are more challenging due to the higher complexity and deeper insights required.

GMAT Verbal Vs. SAT Reading And Writing

Both the GMAT and SAT exams have a Reading and Writing section to test students’ comprehension and analytical thinking abilities. However, both differ in terms of the approach to questions. 

  • The GMAT Verbal section exclusively focuses on advanced critical reasoning skills, with questions analysing arguments and detecting flawed logic in written passages. 
  • For example, candidates must dissect argument structures to identify misrepresentations of evidence.
  • In contrast, the SAT includes more basic vocabulary and grammar questions within its reading tests. 
  • Specifically, it may feature questions on punctuation rules or transition word usage within texts.
  • However, both exams assess skills such as determining author intent and making inferences, except in degrees of complexity. 
  • The GMAT Verbal section requires more nuanced, sophisticated, logical thinking.

SAT Vs. GMAT Difficulty

Multiple factors contribute to the GMAT being a more significant test of understanding. GMAT Maths/verbal items uniformly assess advanced logic. It features shorter time limits, amplifying the pressure. Moreover, its adaptive, individually tailored design escalates difficulty based on performance. The following is a brief analysis of the SAT vs. GMAT difficulty levels based on time pressure and adaptivity –

Time Pressure

While both exams are timed, the GMAT is structured to be more stress-inducing. Due to its progressive online format, it allows fewer minutes per question and does not allow skipping/returning to sections. Tight scheduling promotes quick decision-making under duress.


The SAT maintains a fixed level of difficulty throughout for all test-takers. Conversely, the computer-based GMAT adapts instantaneously – generating more straightforward subsequent questions after errors but ramping up challenges following correct responses. This dynamic, individualised approach raises the bar continuously.

GMAT vs. SAT Score Comparison

Research indicates that SAT and GMAT scores greatly correlate since both measure overlapping abilities. However, due to the increased rigour of the GMAT, average GMAT scores tend to be lower than corresponding SAT marks. 

A 1400 SAT scorer may achieve ∼650 on the GMAT with similar preparation. Yet, candidates scoring 800 (perfect GMAT marks) routinely surpass 1500+ on the SAT. Intensive GMAT preparation can significantly boost results above SAT levels.

Is The GMAT More Important Than The SAT?

Business schools weigh GMAT scores more heavily relative to undergraduate GPAs than undergraduate colleges view SATs against high school records. MBA programs consider test scores a more robust indicator of current competence levels for candidates applying several years after graduation.

Is The GMAT The Hardest Test?

While the GMAT is undoubtedly a very challenging standardised exam, it would not be entirely accurate to claim it is unequivocally the hardest test. Other assessments like the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and exams for licensed professions such as engineering are often cited as being equally or more difficult than the GMAT. 

The GMAT maintains a very high level of rigour suitable for evaluating MBA applicants, but there are tests assessing other domains that may surpass it in terms of the calibre of thinking required, volume of material covered or stringent passing standards. Overall, the GMAT is demanding but perhaps not the single most difficult standardised assessment overall.

GMAT Vs. SAT – In Summary

Therefore, while the SAT and GMAT assess comparable foundational skills, the GMAT presents a steeper challenge due to its hyper-focus on high-level analytical and quantitative assessment for graduate business programs. 

This, coupled with its requirements for continuous adaptation, time-pressured format and demand for rapid responses, experts largely concur that the difference between SAT and GMAT difficulty levels makes the GMAT the more rigorous of the two tests.


Is it possible to score 700 or above on GMAT?

Yes, it is possible to score 700 or above on the GMAT. A score of 700 is considered a perfect score and is well within reach for test-takers who adequately prepare. Proper preparation, including full-length practice tests, subject-specific drilling and test-taking strategies, can help. 

Is GMAT Maths similar to SAT?

While the GMAT and SAT Math cover similar high school-level topics like algebra, geometry, etc., the nature of questions on the two exams differs substantially. SAT Math tests straightforward computational skills, whereas GMAT Math evaluates advanced logical and analytical reasoning abilities. 

Can SAT score predict GMAT?

There is strong correlation between SAT and GMAT scores as both tests assess overlapping skills. However, research shows GMAT scores are usually lower than corresponding SAT scores due to its higher rigour. 

What is a good baseline GMAT score?

Generally, a solid baseline begins at 600 and demonstrates better prospects the higher it is above this mark, with 650+ being very good and 700+ excellent. Factors like work experience essays also influence admissions viability.

When can one attempt the GMAT and SAT?

Both the GMAT and SAT can be taken multiple times in a year, allowing unlimited attempts at optimising scores. The computer-based GMAT is offered nearly daily year-round through advanced registration. In contrast, the SAT is administered exclusively as an online test on specific Saturdays between January to June each year. 

1 thought on “Top PGDM Courses In Canada: Universities, Specialisations & Eligibility”

  1. I have done Bachelor’s in Culinary Arts from India and completed my graduation in the year 2022 .I am 22 years old. After graduation, I have done 1 year paid internship from USA .Now, I would like to take occupational experience and learn culinary skills and also do masters in Culinary arts.How can I find the college n best course / country where I can persue studying further

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sat vs gmat

SAT VS GMAT: Find Out The Key Differences!

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