Ask Test Masters – GRE Subject Tests

Ask-Test-MastersSachin is a student interested in studying Computer Science at the graduate level. He recently wrote to us for advice on whether or not he should take a GRE Subject Test. Sachin asks:

I’m preparing for the GRE, but my academic marks are not so good. This might be a problem that can arise at the time of admission. Also, tell me about the GRE subject test. Is it beneficial or not?

Dear Sachin,

It sounds like you are asking if a GRE or GRE Subject Test score can make up for bad grades. The short answer is it depends. Keep in mind that most (but not all) graduate programs have a minimum Grade Point Average requirement; without meeting your University of Choice’s minimum GPA requirement, it is unlikely that high test scores will help. If, on the other hand, a student does meet the minimum grade requirements of their preferred graduate school or program, then your GRE scores can possibly make a very significant difference. Coursework is the most important factor admission officers will consider when deciding whether to admit a candidate or not, since that is the context in which graduate professors will interact with students. Note that different schools calculate minimum GPA in different ways; some schools may only consider the last 60 hours of coursework on your transcript, other schools may only consider your Major GPA. If in doubt, call the school; whatever your GPA is, a high GRE score can’t hurt.

If you do have a low GPA or academic marks, you can learn more about how to get into graduate school here and here.

As for subject tests, having a good score on a GRE Subject Test can have a significant impact on any graduate school application. Many universities or programs will require you to submit a specific GRE Subject Test score to be even considered for admission; this is especially true at the Ph. D. level. Other universities may not require you to submit a specific GRE Subject Test, but will instead ask you to submit a Subject Test of your choice. In both of these circumstances the benefits of taking a GRE Subject Test are obvious- you won’t be admitted, or even considered for admission, without one.

Even if your university of choice does not require you to submit a GRE Subject Test score to be considered for admission, taking a GRE Subject Test can be very beneficial for any graduate school application. A good subject test score demonstrates that you are qualified and competent in the field you are applying for; it also shows that you are willing to put in extra work to succeed (something that any admission officer would like to see). A good score on a GRE Subject Test will help you stand out among other competitive candidates.

All in all, a GRE Subject Test might not be necessary, but it is certainly a good idea!

Hope this helps!


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