It is extremely important for test takers to become familiar with the expectations of their chosen program before taking the GRE. Score requirements can vary significantly between disciplines although the majority of programs are most interested in the combined score of the verbal and quantitative sections. The verbal section score becomes a particularly important ?tie-breaker? in math, science, and engineering graduate programs where most students will have very high quantitative scores.
How scores are used
In addition to—or instead of—admissions regulations, some schools use GRE scores to award funding and scholarships to students, so you?ll not only secure a solid education, but you will save money by referencing your program?s average GRE scores (usually published on the school?s Web site). Set up an interview with an admissions officer who can provide you with a good frame of reference before you take the test.
About the GRE Subject Test
Depending on the program you choose, you may be required to complete a GRE Subject Test which tests knowledge in any of eight specific fields: biochemistry, cell, and molecular biology; biology; chemistry; computer science; literature in English; mathematics; physics; and psychology. The subjects tests typically have 70?200 multiple-choice questions that must be answered in 170 minutes. In general, graduate schools weigh subjects scores more heavily than general scores since the information reviewed is particularly vital to that graduate program.
Preparing for the test
Much like the law school admissions test (LSAT) and examination for entry into medical school (MCAT), the GRE comes equipped with a multitude of practice tools. Set your goals a bit higher than the average scores; that way if your scores come up slightly short of your goal, you?ll still be in an excellent position to enter the program of your choice. While the GRE—like its undergrad counterparts, the ACT and SAT—is not considered a test that one can ?study? for, many test takers have shown to produce higher scores by familiarizing themselves with the test?s organization, timing, focuses, and answer-elimination strategies.
By Hannah Roberts