Does a GRE still matter for grad school?

The short answer is, it depends.

For years acing the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) was key to admission to U.S. science graduate programs. The GRE is a standardized test consisting of multiple-choice and written questions that test quantitative, verbal, and writing skills. It last nearly 4 hours and according to some test takers quite literally feels like “running a marathon”.

Not surprisingly, dependence on the GRE, like many other standardized tests, is starting to wane for a couple of reasons. First, the correlation between doing well on the GRE and succeeding in graduate school is up for debate. Second, and let’s be honest here, universities and colleges need students, removing a test that washes out 30-40% of applicants is good for business. Finally, the rise of ‘assessment based education’, like WGU’s master degree programs, has put pressure on the practices of traditional institutions.

Having said that some disciplines remain staunchly committed to the GRE. If you have plans for an advance degree in chemistry, computer science, geology, physics, or psychology from a top 50 program, then you probably ought to bone up on your GRE skills. On the other hand program in the life sciences (think biology, ecology, etc.) continue to loosen the requirement for a GRE. Even schools that ‘require a GRE’ may look at research, job experience and letter of recommendations as viable substitutes.