GradSchoolShopper Advice on the Use of the GRE

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) has made the following advice on the "Fair And Appropriate Use of GRE Scores."

GradSchoolShopper supports the ETS position on the use of GRE scores. Furthermore, we urge prospective graduate students and those making grad school admissions decisions to take care in following the advice of ETS not only for the general GRE but also for the Physics Subject Test.

In addition, GradSchoolShopper encourages prospective graduate students to consider the following:

  • Do not use GRE data reported in GradSchoolShopper as the sole criterion in deciding whether you should apply to a particular grad program. If you like a program but are concerned about your scores, we urge you to contact the program and discuss your situation. Graduate school admission is typically based on a combination of factors, including GPA in physics and math, overall GPA, letters of recommendation, relevant experience such as summer research, and the Physics GRE. Therefore, you should not take yourself out of the running based on GRE score alone.
  • If you feel that your undergraduate program did not offer the full suite of courses to prepare you for the Physics GRE, the following is very important: 1) self-study in areas in which you feel deficient, 2) proper test preparation for the Physics GRE, 3) conversations with prospective grad programs about your particular situation.
  • Plan ahead, follow the advice above, and focus on developing yourself as a well-rounded and viable candidate. This should include not only your grades, but also such things as getting summer experience in a lab, finding a good mentor, and preparing properly for the GRE (if it is required for the grad programs you are interested in).

Note to those involved in graduate school admissions:

GradSchoolShopper urges those involved in graduate admissions to follow the ETS guidelines as referenced above, and to take into consideration the whole student in making admissions decisions. Most importantly, the GRE should never be used as initial criterion for making the first cut of students in the admissions process.