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Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Scores

A recent general Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required. A subject exam is required but under certain circumstances may be waived. This should be requested in the application. To find out how to take these exams go to http://www.gre.org or contact:

Graduate Record Examinations
Educational Testing Services
P.O. BOX 6000
Princeton, NJ 08541-6000 USA
phone: 609-771-7670

General GRE Examination

The general GRE examination gives you a chance to demonstrate your proficiency in verbal, quantitative, and analytical skills. While high GRE scores are no guarantee of success in a graduate program, they do correlate well with success in graduate coursework. Your scores will be evaluated in the context of your background. For example, someone with more exposure to advanced technical courses with mathematical content will generally have a higher quantitative score than someone with less. Someone for whom English is a foreign language will generally have a lower verbal score than native English speakers.

Because the GRE is a standardized test, it can be a great equalizer for applicants who do not come from well-known schools. For example, consider an applicant with a 4.0 GPA from Smallville College whose letters say she is the best math major they have seen in twenty years. While all that is great, it is hard to gauge the level of the courses at Smallville and hard to decide how much weight to give the letters if no Smallville graduate has entered the AMSC program in the past. A high GRE score would however add great weight to both her academic record and her letters. On the other hand, a low GRE score would be viewed in some measure as a reflection of Smallville College and not weaken her application. Similarly, a high GRE score would greatly strengthen the application of someone who is pursuing a graduate degree after being out in the work force for a few years.

The general GRE examination has three parts: verbal, quantitative, and analytical. In the past scores for each of these parts was reported on a 200-800 scale. For students entering with support last fall the average scores were about: 575 verbal, 775 quantitative, and 725 analytical. For students entering without support last fall the average scores were about: 550 verbal, 750 quantitative, and 675 analytical. As mentioned above, entering students can have one or more GRE scores well below these averages provided there strong components in their application that compensate. The analytical part of the general GRE examination will change significantly starting in October 2002. It will be be a written exam with scores reported on a 0-6 scale with half-point increments. The verbal and quantitative parts will be unchanged.

GRE Subject Examinations

A GRE subject examination is strongly recommended. It is important for you to understand the role of a GRE subject score in an application. The GRE subject examination gives you a chance to demonstrate your mastery of advanced material. Someone with more exposure to advanced courses will generally have a higher score than someone with less. A high score shows that you retained a high level of mastery of the material from those courses. To show you can do this greatly strengthens your appliction. You can use any technical subject to do this, not just the math subject exam. For example, if your undergraduate major was physics, you can take the physics subject exam. It is therefore clear that your GRE subject score will be evaluated in the context of your background.

A student who scores well on a GRE subject examination significantly strengthens their application because it indicates that the student has mastered a field with a minimum of formal training in it!