Who Takes the GRE Placement Exam?

by Avery Martin
Prospective graduate students take the GRE.

Prospective graduate students take the GRE.

Schools do not use the Graduate Record Examination score for admission to artist programs, undergraduate programs or conservatories. Instead, the GRE provides general and subject testing to assess a potential candidate's suitability for graduate work. To take the exam, students must register for a test date at a testing facility. No options exist to take the GRE online from home. Students can use their GRE scores for five years after the initial test date.

Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate students wishing to pursue graduate studies immediately after graduation often must take the GRE. Students must plan ahead and register for the test the year before they intend to attend graduate school to ensure their scores will be received before the graduate school application deadline. Many students elect to take the GRE more than once to improve their score. When requesting scores online, students may choose to submit the most recent score, a specific score or all valid scores to their school of choice. Students can also request scores at the test center or by phone, mail or fax.

Demonstrate Competence

The GRE General Test focuses on critical thinking and the analytical skills required for graduate school. Prospective students take the GRE and submit their scores to graduate programs at potential colleges and universities. GRE scores provide a common measure to asses candidates' capabilities beyond grades, extra-curricular activities, professional accomplishments or educational and cultural backgrounds. The general test consists of verbal and quantitative reasoning sections, as well as analytical writing sections designed to measure your ability to gather and interpret information through opinion and analysis.

Demonstrate Subject Knowledge

The GRE Subject Tests focus on testing specific knowledge within eight academic disciplines. Students wanting to study biology, chemistry, computer science, English literature, mathematics, physics, psychology or biochemistry, cell and molecular biology take GRE Subject Tests to demonstrate subject-specific knowledge. The computer science test is being phased out after April 2013, though the scores will still be valid for five years. Some schools require only the GRE General Test, while some departments may require an additional GRE Subject Test. Combined with transcripts, the scores help paint a complete picture of the student in terms of academic performance and acquired knowledge.

Schools Requiring the GRE

Graduate and business schools both accept GRE scores for admission. Admissions and fellowship panels use the GRE scores in addition to undergraduate grades, letters of recommendations, statements of purpose and university- or college-specific requirements to asses a candidate's potential for success in post-graduate work. Schools that don't require GRE scores for placement into a graduate or business program may still accept the scores and use them to help evaluate a student's ability. According to the Educational Testing Service, admissions committees often consider submitted scores whether or not the school requires the scores for admission.

About the Author

Avery Martin holds a Bachelor of Music in opera performance and a Bachelor of Arts in East Asian studies. As a professional writer, she has written for Education.com, Samsung and IBM. Martin contributed English translations for a collection of Japanese poems by Misuzu Kaneko. She has worked as an educator in Japan, and she runs a private voice studio out of her home. She writes about education, music and travel.

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