Rice Graduate Admissions: A Spotlight Interview

We wish all grad students were this cute.

We have talked to several grad school faculty members to ask their opinions about the GRE, including the new changes, the rationale for looking at the scores, and the need for taking the GRE subject tests.

Few schools have a specific cut-off score for the GRE.  Some weigh the GRE more if the GPA from the Bachelor’s degree is lower.  Several departments in colleges do require the Subject test; however, even for some, this is just a formality; for others, a respectable score is mandated.  Some require the GRE Subject test just for the PhD program; others need to see the results before admission to a Masters program is guaranteed.

The following is a brief interview with Huey Huang, a professor of physics at Rice University, concerning the relationship between the GRE and their admissions process.

How does Rice figure in the GRE score?

Graduate admission is done individually in each department. There is no general policy regarding GRE. In Physics & Astronomy, we require general and subject (physics) test scores of each applicant. It is not so much because we trust the worthiness of GRE tests. It is because there is no other subjective comparison between applicants from different colleges, not to mention from different countries.

Is there a set cut-off score?

We do not use any strict numerical cut-off. But applicants with low scores need to have other positive off-set factors, such as good grades and good letters of recommendation.

How many times to take the test do you have before repeat testing is a hindrance to admissions?

In general we don’t pay attention to how many times students took the test.

Is there a ratio between the score and the success rate in the graduate school program?

This is a hard question to answer. Usually students with good scores perform better in the classrooms. However, graduate education emphasizes research. The correlation between GRE and research ability is less clear. If you define the success rate to the rate of obtaining pHD, most of failures are due to other reasons than poor GRE.

What happens if a student scores highly on the quantitative section, but he flounders on the verbal or writing parts?

Since we are a science department, we do weight slight more on quantitative.

Do you know of someone in another department — English or Social Studies — who could answer similar questions?

The easiest way to do this is to go online to each department. Nowadays almost all school all departments use online applications. For example, go to rice.edu/physics department/degree programs/graduate degree/graduate study admission, you will find the information about GRE requirement as well as the average scores of admitted students.
If you want more information, email the contact person. I think you will get your answers most of time, not just from Rice.

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