How Important are Test Scores to the Admissions Process?

The GRE is a standard test that quantifies the quality of international students on a global benchmark. The GMAT does the same but specifically for business students. Hence, most of the universities consider these tests as measurement tools for basic screening parameters. However, most schools’ score benchmarks differ depending on their requirements. Students should be aware of the requirement for the schools they wish to apply to.

Some schools have minimum test score requirements. In some instances, more weight may be given to other portions of your application such as extra-curricular activities and your undergraduate GPA. In those cases, the scores might not be as important as long as you achieve the minimum. 

Most of the schools in the USA tend to prefer, however, these scores as a base for their decisions. GRE and GMAT scores can be the deciding factor between two students who would otherwise have very similar profiles. 

International students can also target programs where they have a realistic chance of acceptance. In the case of the GRE, graduate program admissions officers often care more about section scores than overall scores. Graduate programs are generally interested in highly specialized applicants, so a low math score, for example, won’t necessarily hurt students’ chances of acceptance to great humanities and social sciences programs. Recently, a student who was accepted to a top history program with a math score in the 40th percentile. His numerous publications and extensive teaching experience relative to his field far outweighed his poor math score. 

These standardized tests are part of the application package and doing well on it will certainly help your odds, but other aspects of the application (college grades, extracurricular activities, recommendations, etc.) carry considerable weight as well. Graduate schools often use GRE and GMAT scores to distinguish between applicants and admits and do not make most of their admits’ judgement solely on these tests. 

Additionally, for the TOEFL/IELTS, there will typically be a minimum score needed for international students. Please check with your prospective school so you can make sure your scores meet that requirement as not meeting the threshold can keep you from being admitted to the program.

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