Can I get into Grad School with No GRE&Reg;?

Nicholas K.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE®) tests verbal, quantitative, and writing skills possessed by prospective graduate students. You can avoid the costs and stresses of the test when you get into a graduate school with no GRE® requirement. Certain graduate schools do not require GRE® test results with applications due to the test's limitations. The lack of a GRE® requirement does not necessarily mean that a school ignores standardized testing, however. Your application to a graduate school with no GRE® requirement must demonstrate your academic skills in lieu of the test.

Demonstrating research skills can help a student get into some grad schools.
Demonstrating research skills can help a student get into some grad schools.

Graduate schools with no GRE® requirements are generally clustered in scientific fields not served well by the test. Computer science departments often ignore GRE® requirements in favor of past grades and academic samples. The GRE® does not feature sections that overlap well with the graduate curriculum for computer science students. Another academic discipline that often overlooks the GRE® is engineering. Universities with engineering graduate programs usually place more emphasis on letters of recommendation, portfolios, and past performance when selecting students.

A growing list of universities is eschewing the GRE as an admissions standard.
A growing list of universities is eschewing the GRE as an admissions standard.

A growing list of universities and colleges is eschewing the GRE® as an admissions standard. The questions and format of the test have changed significantly since 2007; these alterations have raised questions about the legitimacy of GRE® scores before and after the changes. The GRE® has also come under fire as studies have questioned its ability to assess a student's intellectual capacities. Many universities that continue to use the GRE® in the admissions process have decreased its priority level.

A graduate school with no GRE® requirement might still require scores from standardized tests on applications. American students provide ACT® and SAT® scores on all graduate school applications to demonstrate core competencies. Universities in English-speaking countries require completion of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL®) from exchange students. Most national governments have examinations and certifications for post-secondary graduation that can be included in graduate school applications. Most graduate school applications still require results from formal testing organizations prior to admission.

Your chances of getting into a graduate school with no GRE® requirement can increase when you use other means to show your intelligence and knowledge. Graduate schools read carefully through transcripts to determine aptitude in major courses. The application essay allows you to explain why you are interested in graduate study and how you would enrich the program in question. Your letters of recommendation from past professors offer first-hand insight into your commitment to academic success. A graduate school with no GRE® requirement can often learn far more from these application materials than from a test results sheet.

Universities in English-speaking countries require exchange students to take the TOEFL.
Universities in English-speaking countries require exchange students to take the TOEFL.

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Discussion Comments


I went back to complete my college education in my fifties! By "complete," I mean that I earned 114 of the required 120 credits to earn a bachelor's in English! This required that I go back and retake some high school math courses because it had been so long that I had forgotten everything except simple arithmetic.

I earned a 3.98 (darn, I had also forgotten some grammar that meant I got an A- in a copy editing class!), and did so in 2.5 years, during most of which I also ran a business. I then completed an 18-hour grad program in education and earned my teaching license. I would love to continue my education and earn a master's in English, but I just cannot force myself to go take the GRE because, although I got a 4.0 in all my math classes, it just did not "stick," and I know I will still flounder with the math. While my (regionally accredited, brick and mortar) university assures me that they don't care about my math score for admission for an English MA, I am just "tested out" for now. I cannot imagine, after earning 3.98 and 4.0 and becoming a teacher, why a university even cares about my GRE.

My major concentrated in writing, so I have proven excellence in that area. They don't care about the math, so why require it? They will still get the same amount of tuition from me, and that is their real goal. I have shown that I will be successful, and not damage their GPA or graduation rates. I even add some flavor as a "non-traditional" (read 58 year old) student. Why deny me that education? I can't think of a single reason, but I would love to learn why.


If I'd had to pass the GRE to get into graduate school, I never would have made it. The math portion would have sunk me. I took the Miller Analogies Test, and did pretty well, so my school accepted that score.

Nowadays, a lot of schools don't require the GRE or MAT. I think they've figured out if someone is going to get a master's degree, say, in English, that it really doesn't matter whether they're proficient in college algebra or not. They're not going to be taking any math courses in graduate school, or doing a math-related job, so what real difference does it make?

I'm all for students having good core knowledge and being well-rounded, but in my humble opinion, it doesn't make sense that these kids can do algebra, but can't figure interest on a credit card, figure sales tax or do their income taxes. And in all likelihood, they're never going to use algebra.

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