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Do I Have to Take the GRE® for Graduate School?

By J.E. Holloway
Updated May 17, 2024
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Taking the Graduate Record Examination® (GRE®) is required for entrance to many graduate schools in the United States and Canada, but it isn't always necessary to take the GRE® for graduate school. Some graduate programs use specialized tests other than the GRE®. Others are willing to accept any of several alternatives to the GRE® for graduate school admission.

Many graduate school programs use specialized tests to assess candidates for admission. Business schools often require candidates to take the Graduate Management Admission Test® (GMAT®), although some accept the GRE® as an alternative. The Medical College Admission Test® (MCAT®) is used for admission to medical schools, while the Law School Admission Test® (LSAT®) is used by applicants to law school and the Dental Admission Test® (DAT®) is used by students applying to dental school.

Some universities do not require taking the GRE® for graduate school. Even at some universities that generally make use of the GRE®, some departments may not use the test or may encourage but not require it. Some departments may waive the requirement for students with a sufficient grade point average (GPA). Prospective students should check the requirements of their chosen departments when applying.

Outside the United States, the GRE® is less frequently required. Some Canadian universities also recommend, but do not require, that students take the GRE®. An advantage of taking the test, however, is that applicants with GRE® scores in hand may be eligible for funding and scholarships that are not available to applicants who have not taken the test.

Outside North America, the GRE® is rarely required. In the United Kingdom, the GRE® is not required by all university departments. Some universities require the GRE® of applicants from outside the UK when they apply for certain programs but not others. British universities do not require the GRE® for graduate school applicants who are British students. Universities outside the English-speaking world are very unlikely to require applicants to have taken the test.

Students in the United States and Canada should plan on taking the GRE® — or an equivalent graduate admission test — before sending off graduate school applications. Students outside North America are likely to have to take the exam only if they intend to study in the U.S. or Canada. In all cases, prospective applicants should confirm the requirements of their chosen universities and departments before testing to be certain they will meet admissions requirements.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Rundocuri — On May 08, 2014

@raynbow- That is a good point. I think that even students who don't have to take this type of graduate school admission testing should take it anyone. Not only will the test prepare students for grad school, but the grades they get on the testing will help guide them in choosing coursework. A high GRE test score will also look good on a resume.

By Raynbow — On May 07, 2014

Either the GRE test or an equivalent test is challenging, so students should prepare for this type of testing ahead of time. They do have their benefits. By taking a GRE test or another type of graduate school admission test, the student will begin to prepare himself for the tough work ahead in graduate school.

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