An Indepth analysis on
GRE Waiver – Should you write the GRE?
COVID-19 has forever changed the lives of billions across the planet, giving birth to various paradigm shifts in the collective human psyche, systems that have been in place for decades, and our own lifestyles. Coupled with the advent of the internet and smartphones, the pandemic has led to rapid digitalization in many corners of the globe. We order our groceries and clothes online, and sometimes, even order products online that feed our aspirations.
The aspiration to study abroad and explore a new country are familiar dreams for many students. During the pandemic, the emergence of online classes and online interviews ensured that the ambitions of thousands of students did not come to a complete standstill. While these changes were beneficial to many, others who were less privileged had to adapt at frighteningly steep rates. Professors, students, and university admins alike were forced to make changes to prevent the transmission of the virus and ensure everyone’s safety.
One of the biggest changes introduced in this regard was the decision to offer waivers for standardized test scores, such as the GRE and the GMAT, in terms of applying to higher education programs at universities abroad. At the surface level, this decision seemed to be a welcome one. After all, the journey of preparing for a standardized test, enrolling in an expensive coaching institute, taking the test, and finally receiving one’s scores which might or might not be satisfactory, can be highly stressful. In a pandemic-riddled world, this journey could be even more taxing. In that sense, the option of waiving off these score requirements would be a blessing for many students.
However, if we dig deeper, we find that this issue has several underlying issues which would have far-reaching consequences for many students’ dreams. Are standardized tests really important?
Are standardized tests important?
Typically, universities assess the applications of candidates by looking at multiple aspects of their profile, namely:
- Academic Performance
- Work Experience and Projects
- Statement of Purpose and Letter(s) of Recommendation
- Standardized Test Scores.
At this juncture, let us assume that a student wishes to apply for Program X. Program X requires a certain number of years of work experience in the concerned field, a certain GPA, and a certain GRE score. Meeting all or most of these requirements will ensure that the candidate will be able to keep up with the rigor of the coursework, learn effectively, and prove to be, in crude terms, a good investment of the university’s time and resources.
Now, let us say this student applies for the program, meeting the work experience criteria but not the academic criteria. They have their SOPs and LORs ready and have exceeded the minimum GRE score requirement by 2 points. What are the odds that this student will be chosen over an applicant with an almost identical profile but who have not taken the GRE? Those are odds that are overwhelmingly in favor of the student.
If we think about it, our academic background, work experience, projects, and LORs, are all extremely subjective. The underlying timeline of one’s life, the socio-economic factors that have influenced their being, and the spirit of the individual themselves cannot be accurately compared with another person’s profile in order to determine who should be chosen for a chance at pursuing their dreams. This is why standardized tests are important, for they offer an objective viewpoint of one’s profile. They provide a holistic angle to profile evaluation and offer supplementary data points that illuminate every candidate’s capabilities to determine whether or not they can succeed in a program.
The following table should give some clarity on feasible GRE Verbal and Quant scores for various streams:
Mean AWA Score
Humanities and Arts
To reiterate: GRE scores are utilized by universities as a measure of raw ability. They help universities identify candidates who are academically prepared for graduate-level studies. Since GRE scores are valid for 5 years, it is also possible to defer admits to more viable timeframes. To know more about what a ‘good GRE Score’ looks like and the minimum score requirements of a few top universities, head to this link.
Who can receive the waiver?
A waiver isn’t a free pass for everyone looking to apply for a certain program at a university. They are simply paths to using alternate means of profile evaluation, where other proofs of analytical, verbal, and academic ability come to the fore. The reasoning of the universities (apart from the obvious safety concerns due to the pandemic) is that standardized test scores are simply not needed during such a traumatic time and that other indicators of academic abilities and achievement can be utilized for candidate selection. Let us quickly look at some of the most common criteria universities use to select deserving candidates.
- Exceptional Academic Performance.
- An Essay stating reasons for claiming the waiver.
- Prior Professional Certifications within the subject areas of the program.
- A certain number of years of Work Experience in a challenging role
Aside from the essay criterion, all the other factors describe the profiles of exceptional candidates. Just the weight of such an excellent profile with academic achievements, professional certifications, and considerable work experience would be enough to impress admission committees. But that begs the question—what about students with relatively average profiles? What can they do to stand out?
Well, they can use standardized test scores to their advantage. Before an admission board, one’s academic mistakes and achievements, professional performance and errors, and all projects and certifications come into sharp focus. In this situation, good GRE scores can lend an edge to a student’s application. Why should a candidate lessen their chances of standing out before an admission committee by applying for a GRE waiver? Unless they are severely immunocompromised or have an exceptional academic and professional record since high school, candidates should avoid the temptation to apply for these waivers.
This year, hundreds of student applications have been rejected solely due to the absence of GRE Scores. The programs these students applied for offered GRE Waivers, but empirical data shows that those with similar profiles but good test scores were more likely to be accepted into the program.
The crux is that for the average candidate, NOT writing the GRE is a surefire way to get rejected.
As experts in the EdTech field with over a decade of experience in the GRE and other standardized tests, we assure you that a good score will inevitably boost your profile and make it stand out. It is a filter that university selectors use to assess thousands of students’ quantitative and verbal abilities. A filter that will make your profile shine in different ways and will provide new perspectives to your application in the eyes of the selectors.
At Galvanize Global Education, we offer quality test prep at affordable prices. As an EdTech company, we also have tons of free resources available for students in need. Check us out here, and galvanize your journey abroad, the right way.
Here’s a video testimonial from one of our students, who describes her rollercoaster of a journey applying for programs without GRE Scores. Her input may prove relatable to you.
We wish you all the best in your endeavors and urge you to stay safe and study hard!
We wish you all the very best in your endeavors, and urge you to stay safe, and study hard!