General consensus among grad school admissions officers is that the GMAT/GRE accounts for 40% of an applicant’s final admissions decision. There are exceptions, of course. Some specialty programs–religious studies, speech therapy, musicology, theology, folklorian literature, to name a few–technically require the GRE but look more for “program fit” than they do the quantitative metrics of a standardized test.
But unless you are applying to one of these specialty programs, your performance on the GRE can make or break your application. (Incidentally, the reason most specialty programs discount the GRE is because the strength of their applicants comes from an existing body of work in the field and also from letters of recommendation written by those already in the field vouching for the applicant’s specialized aptitude.)
That means for the rest of you, which is most of you, the GRE/GMAT counts–big time. The reasons why the GRE is weighted so heavily are threefold:
- Having been used since 1949 as a measure of student’s potential success in graduate school, the GRE (and the GMAT since 1957) have been carefully honed for their predictive accuracy.
- Grad schools can’t account for the various factors that can potentially differentiate a 3.6 GPA from one school to another–level of academic rigor being one–but they can be assured that everyone is taking the same GRE/GMAT since the tests are standardized. This levels the playing field and so GRE/GMAT scores are considered more heavily than is GPA.
- Lastly, results from the GRE/GMAT have been studied each year that it has been administered and it has been scientifically shown to be a more accurate predictor of grad school success than anything else–including GPA.
So there you have it. The complaint we hear most often is why four years of work should count less than a four hour exam. We feel your pain. That’s why we’re here. To help you slaughter these standardized beasts and sail smoothly into your dream program.
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