SAT Vs GRE Which Is Better: Answered!

Choosing between the SAT and GRE can be confusing. The SAT is for college, while the GRE is for grad school. This brief introduction will help untangle the differences, making it easier to decide which test is better suited to your goals. Continue reading to learn the purposes, formats, and other factors to learn between the SAT vs GRE which is better.

What Is SAT

The SAT, or Scholastic Assessment Test, is a standardized test widely used for college admissions in the United States. It assesses a student’s readiness for college and is typically taken by high school students. The SAT measures skills in math, evidence-based reading, and writing.

What Is GRE

The GRE, or Graduate Record Examination, is a standardized test commonly required for admission to graduate and business school programs worldwide. It assesses verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing skills. 

SAT Vs GRE Which Is Better

To decide between SAT vs GRE which is better depends on your educational goals. The SAT is typically for undergraduate admissions, assessing readiness for college, while the GRE is for graduate-level admissions, gauging readiness for advanced studies. If you’re applying to undergraduate programs, the SAT is the appropriate choice. For graduate programs, the GRE is more suitable.


Considering the financial aspect is crucial. The GRE is notably more expensive than the SAT. At $205, the GRE’s cost includes sending scores to up to four graduate programs. On the other hand, the SAT costs $46 or $60 (with the essay), making it more budget-friendly. It’s essential to factor in the cost when planning your test-taking strategy, especially if you plan to take the test multiple times.


The SAT and GRE have different approaches when it comes to essays. For the SAT, there’s an optional essay where you analyze an argument. It tests your ability to understand and critique someone else’s writing. On the GRE, you’ll face two essays – one analyzing an issue and another analyzing an argument. These essays assess your critical thinking and analytical writing skills, giving grad schools insight into your ability to express ideas effectively.


Both exams pay attention to grammar, but the SAT focuses on writing and language skills in a broader context. It tests your ability to revise and edit written passages, checking your grasp of grammar rules and how well you can improve a piece of writing. The GRE, on the other hand, evaluates your grammar within the context of your essays, emphasizing how effectively you can communicate your ideas through well-structured and grammatically correct writing.

Computer vs. Paper

An essential difference is the format of the test. The SAT is generally taken on paper, with a few exceptions for the digital version. In contrast, the GRE has transitioned to a computer-based format. This means typing essays on the computer for the GRE, while the SAT essays are handwritten. If you’re more comfortable typing and navigating a computer interface, the GRE might be a better fit for you.


The SAT focuses on testing your math, evidence-based reading, and writing skills, aiming to assess your readiness for college. It’s widely used for undergraduate admissions. On the other hand, the GRE is designed for graduate-level studies, evaluating your ability to handle more advanced concepts in verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. Choosing between them depends on your educational path – SAT for undergraduate and GRE for graduate studies.


The scoring systems for the SAT and GRE differ. The SAT scores each section out of 800 points, with a maximum total score of 1600. It doesn’t deduct points for incorrect answers, encouraging you to take educated guesses. The GRE, however, has a more complex scoring system. The verbal and quantitative sections are scored on a scale of 130 to 170, and the analytical writing section is scored on a scale of 0 to 6. Understanding these scoring mechanisms is crucial for developing effective test-taking strategies.


The SAT places more emphasis on sentence completion questions, testing your ability to understand and use words in context. On the GRE, vocabulary is tested through sentence equivalence and text completion questions, evaluating your grasp of words within the structure of sentences. Building a strong vocabulary is beneficial for both tests, but the specific nuances may guide your preparation focus.

Calculator vs. No Calculator

In the SAT math section, you can use a calculator for one part and not for the other. This tests your ability to solve problems using different approaches. On the GRE, the quantitative section doesn’t allow the use of a calculator. This challenges you to rely on your mathematical reasoning and problem-solving skills without external aids. Understanding your comfort level with mental math and problem-solving strategies will influence your choice between the two tests.


The availability of these exams can impact your decision. The SAT is more commonly administered and is offered several times a year. This frequent availability provides flexibility for high school students planning to take the test during their junior and senior years. The GRE, being designed for graduate school admissions, is offered throughout the year, but less frequently than the SAT. Consider the timing of your application process and choose a test that aligns with your schedule.

On-Screen Calculator vs. Physical Calculator

The SAT allows the use of an on-screen calculator for part of the math section, providing a digital tool for problem-solving. In contrast, the GRE prohibits the use of any calculator in its quantitative section, emphasizing mental math and problem-solving without external aids. Your comfort with on-screen calculations and mental math skills may influence your preference between the two tests.


Both exams consist of multiple sections, but the content and structure vary. The SAT includes sections for reading, writing and language, and math, with an optional essay. The GRE comprises verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing sections. Recognizing your strengths and weaknesses in these areas can guide your choice, ensuring that the test aligns with your academic aptitudes.

Adaptive Testing

The GRE utilizes adaptive testing in the verbal and quantitative sections. This means the difficulty of the second set of questions depends on your performance in the first. If you perform well initially, you get more challenging questions. The SAT doesn’t follow this adaptive format. Understanding your comfort level with adaptive testing and how it may impact your performance is crucial in making an informed decision.

Is The GRE harder than the SAT?

The GRE is harder than the SAT due to its advanced content, longer test duration (3 hours and 45 minutes), and adaptive testing format. The GRE assesses complex academic skills suitable for graduate-level admissions, making its quantitative section, analytical writing tasks, and overall test structure more demanding. While individual experiences may vary, the GRE’s emphasis on higher-level concepts and extended testing time often contributes to its perception as a more difficult examination.

Does Harvard consider GRE?

Yes, Harvard does consider the GRE for admission to its programs. For instance, applicants to Harvard Business School (HBS) are required to take either the GMAT or GRE as a prerequisite for admission. 

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