What Is the Difference between GRE, TOEFL, IELTS, and GMAT?

For a non-native English speaker looking to study abroad, the first and foremost task is to crack any one of the GRE, GMAT, TOEFL and IELTS exams.

Every year, tens of thousands of students travel abroad to study. The reasons to study abroad are many, ranging from better career opportunities to a desire to explore other cultures.

The GMAT (or GRE) is frequently needed for all candidates, whereas on-native English speakers only need TOEFL and IELTS.

Students frequently get confused between them, which eventually affects their preparation. There are some significant differences between each that not many people know.

Given below is a detailed distinction between each of these exams.


Many English-language schools require non-native English speakers to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), demonstrating your English language abilities to universities you’re applying to.

Accepted by over 9,000 colleges across 130 countries, it is more academically focused.

There are two types of TOEFL tests – the paper-based test (PBT) and the internet-based test (IBT).

2. GRE

Short for Graduate Record Examination, this is a standardised test needed for admission to 10,000+ postgraduate institutions (Master’s and PhD programmes) abroad.

Conducted by the ETS, the GRE lasts for 3 hours 45 minutes. The exam tests the candidate’s verbal, analytical, written and qualitative capabilities.

The exam takes place in both paper-based and online modes. Most questions in the exam are based on topics covered at the high school level.

Your GRE scores are valid for a period of 5 years, being used by universities in the USA and Canada to determine if an applicant is eligible for admission or not.


The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is the most widely used English language test globally.

IELTS is a test that assesses a person’s ability to communicate in English across all four language skills — listening, reading, writing, and speaking — for people who want to study or work in an environment where English is the primary language of communication.

More than 800 examination centres and locations in more than 130 countries are used to conduct the exam.

If you want to move or work in another country, you need to clear the IELTS General Training exam.

Alternatively, IELTS Academic is the best option for studying abroad for academic/research purposes.

Over 1.5 million tests are conducted annually, allowing candidates from across the world to explore both academic and job-related opportunities in English-speaking countries. 


The Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, plays a crucial role in the B-schools admission process abroad. Taken by more than 200,000 candidates annually,the  GMAT is a gateway for admission to over 7,000 programmes across 2,300+ B-schools globally.

GMAT is a standardised, multiple-choice and computer-based exam usually required for admission to graduate business education programmes (MBA) across the world.

Candidates have 3 hours and 07 minutes to attempt the exam.

GMAT is mainly used for admission to master’s degrees in management and is not commonly accepted for master’s programmes in science or other postgraduate studies.


So this article was all about the different study abroad examinations. We dived deep into the similarities and distinctions between each, giving you a detailed overview of how to prepare for them.

If you’re looking to pursue the IELTS, TOEFL or GRE, we hope that this information helps you plan better.

We also hope that it gives you an idea about which one would be the most suitable option for you.

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