One of the main themes throughout our admissions myths series (which is now 45 posts strong and counting) has been that applicants should not assume that admissions officers are trying to trick them. Many applicants worry that admissions officers say one thing but really mean another. As a result, many candidates assume that their interviews are worthless—that they essentially “don’t count”—unless they are conducted by someone from the admissions office, or that they need to know a highly placed alumnus/alumna from their target school to be admitted or that they need to pander to a school’s stereotypes to get in. These days, an emerging myth, which assumes that admissions officers are up to their old (and candidates’ entirely imagined) tricks, asserts that the GMAT is taken far more seriously than the GRE, and thus that the GRE is of dubious value to applicants.
We think that we can destroy this myth with a few simple rhetorical/logical questions: Why would an admissions office encourage you to take a test that it would not take seriously? Why would an admissions committee disenfranchise applicants who take the GRE, when one of the main purposes of permitting the GRE is to expand the applicant pool? Why would admissions officers waste precious time devising such a devious scheme in the first place?
“The exam itself is less important than your performance on that exam relative to your peers,” says Dan Gonzalez, managing director at Manhattan GRE. “Think less about which exam schools want you to take and more about which exam will give you the best shot at showing off your skills. The GMAT and the GRE are quite different—take some time to learn about these differences before making your decision.”
So if you are considering taking the GRE—because you want to keep your options open for grad school or just because you think the test plays to your strengths—then you should first check to see if your target schools accept the test. Next, if they do, you should study hard and… take the GRE!