Established in 1936, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required by most graduate schools in the U.S. and Canada as part of the admission criteria. However, it was not a preferred option for specialized programs, which have been using their own or other standardized tests to assess candidates.

For example, law schools have been using the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) to admit students. On the other hand, MBA programs leaned towards the GRE’s sister, the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). These requirements have locked out thousands of students from taking specialized programs.

But things are starting to change a little bit. Some specialized programs are now accepting the GRE scores during student admissions.

A Changing Standard

Business schools kickstarted this paradigm shift. Harvard Business School (HBS) started by publishing median GRE scores in its class profiles in 2017. Then in 2019, about 12 percent of students were admitted to the school using the GRE score. In 2020, HBS accepted 20 percent of its students with the GRE.

Today, over 90 percent of US business schools accept both the GRE and GMAT scores. Applicants can now take their preferred test when applying to schools. Still, it’s vital to understand the admission requirements for the school you want to join.

In law schools’ admissions, James E. Rogers College of Law of the University of Arizona was the first law school to accept the GRE scores in February 2016. This was after a 2015 study carried out by the university revealed that the GRE was reliable and valid. Other law schools followed suit, including Havard Law School and Brooklyn Law School in 2018.

As of November 2020, over 60 law schools accept the GRE score for joint J.D. programs, as listed by Educational Testing Service (ETS).

Why Is This Happening?

One of the main reasons for this shift is the GRE’s accessibility. More than 1,000 testing centers throughout the U.S. offer the test every day. Students take the test via a computer, and they can view their scores immediately after completion. In comparison, LSAT is paper-based, offered only four times a year, and the scores take up to four weeks to arrive.

Schools are also aiming to grow their applicant pool. So, accepting the GRE scores is part of the measures they’re taking to achieve that. They want to encourage students from different backgrounds to take specialized programs, creating even more diverse classes. Before, some students may have assumed that they were not capable of applying for these programs.

Another reason is the GRE’s great track record in assessing applicants. The test usually has three parts: verbal, quantitative, and writing. The top 10 percent of the students typically get a score of 690 or higher; most of these students studied for one to three months to prepare for the test.

Which Path Should You Choose?

Some students believe that the GRE has less preparation and studying, so it makes a great option. While this may or may not be accurate, school officials also look at many other components, too. Even if you take the GRE for law school admission, keep in mind that you’ll still need to take the LSAT.

For MBA admissions, schools seem not to have preferences over the GRE and the GMAT. However, most schools seem to be moving towards the GRE. This test has different pros, include:

  • It’s less expensive,
  • Students feel it’s somewhat easier,
  • It is completed online, and
  • Students get scores quicker.

On the other hand, the GRE also a few cons. For example, not all schools are accepting it. Some business schools still prefer GMAT and have even publicly stated that. Your choice will come down to your personal needs and circumstances. For example, consider taking the GRE if all your business schools accept it. It’s also wise to talk to an admissions counselor for guidance and assistance.

For any test, preparation is essential, and Kaplan GRE test prep helps you easily prepare for your GRE. School officials usually advise applicants to take preparation tests several times and compare results to improve their confidence and recognition.

Should You Take the GRE?

The GRE has become a convenient option for students. Even most importantly, more schools are now accepting it, making things easier for students that want to pursue specialized programs, such as law and MBA. If you’re planning to take your GRE, it’s vital to take the time—at least two to six months—to prepare for it.