Why You Should Consider Taking the GRE for Graduate School

Choosing the right test for your master’s program application can significantly impact your application. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a versatile and practical choice for many aspiring students. Here’s why considering the GRE could be a strategic move for your academic and professional future.

In short

What is the GRE Test?

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardized test frequently required by graduate school programs. 

The GRE contrasts with the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) in that the GMAT examinees are almost exclusively business school aspirants. Graduate schools across the world accept the GRE to gauge applicants’ preparedness for challenging programs.

Beyond the business schools, the GRE’s applicability extends to various graduate disciplines. Specifically, master’s degrees such as Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Science (M.S.), and Master of Education (M.Ed.) are common paths for GRE test-takers.

It should also be noted that standardized tests like the GMAT and GRE are increasingly optional for graduate school admissions. Smaller and leading institutions embrace this trend. Examples are SMU Cox School of Business and UNC Kenan-Flagler, which now consider alternatives like high GPAs instead. 

So, should you still apply for a GRE, and what are the benefits?

How the GRE Works

When applying for a general graduate program, you will likely be required to take the GRE General Test. However, if you want to pursue a specialized program, there are also GRE Subject Tests in Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology.

The GRE is a triathlon of mental agility, quantifying an examinee’s capability in Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing.

Verbal Reasoning assesses one’s ability to navigate and infer from incomplete information. This includes interpreting nuances, discerning between literal and figurative language, and pinpointing major arguments versus minor details. 

Quantitative Reasoning is where mathematical understanding is the sole challenge. Yet, the GRE allows a calculator as a lifeline, mitigating arithmetic stress and enhancing precision. This allowance shifts the focus towards strategic problem-solving and away from the pressures of mental calculation. However, it should complement a solid understanding of mathematics rather than serving as a substitute.

Finally, in Analytical Writing, test-takers must coherently defend their ideas through written prose, crafting arguments with clarity and strength.

The GRE allows participants to take the exam at a test center or online. This choice makes the GRE accessible in varying circumstances without sacrificing the exam’s rigorous standards. 

Online test-takers must ensure a robust internet connection and a distraction-free environment to mimic the controlled conditions of a test center.

A compelling feature of the GRE is the “ScoreSelect” option, which empowers test-takers to choose which scores to report to their selected institutions. This level of control can bolster applicants’ profiles by showcasing their best performance.

Maneuvering the GRE Scoring Labyrinth

GRE scores remain valid for five years, yet institutions must receive these scores well before application deadlines. 

The scoring scale presents a granular view of one’s abilities, with Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning ranging from 130 to 170 and Analytical Writing from 0 to 6 in half-point increments. 

Unanswered questions get the mark of “NS” (No Score), a stark reminder of opportunities missed.

The GRE as a Strategic Lever for Graduate Aspirations

In conclusion, the GRE offers flexibility and accessibility, which can make it an appealing choice for prospective graduate students. Its wide acceptance across diverse programs, the convenience of using a calculator, and the option to take the test in-person or online are just a few of the reasons to consider the GRE.

Whether you’re aiming for a career in academia, research, or a specific professional field, the GRE can serve as a stepping stone toward achieving your goals. With careful preparation and a clear understanding of its advantages, the GRE can be valuable in your graduate school application process.

If you’re considering graduate school, it’s best to begin your GRE prep early!

Reach out to a student ambassador if you’d like to hear about their experience taking the GRE.

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