GRE General Test or the GRE Subject Test?
Today I saw a question from one student in Pakistan “I want to know that only GRE (general test) is responsible for admission in any US university??? I mean to say why GRE (subject test) is not taken?? One can be better judged on GRE (subject test) instead of GRE (general test)…..”
First of all let me clarify that the GRE general test is required by almost all graduate programs in the US. On the contrary the GRE subject test is required by certain programs especially research based Masters and PhD. You must check with your prospective schools if they need the subject test.
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GRE General Test
The GRE general test is an aptitude test that only measures your basic reasoning and analytical skills – two skills that are ESSENTIAL to thrive and succeed in any subject area; be it medical, engineering or business studies. Of course we all have done a lot of math in our school days and every single one of us has studied basic mathematics up till the matriculation level. (O-levels, Matric in Pakistan) The GRE general exam simply uses that basic knowledge by throwing us a bunch of trick and trap questions under extremely timed conditions.
I would agree to a certain extent that the verbal portion is a tough ask for many of us in Pakistan but then for most programs we just need an average verbal score to get through. Moreover quantitative fields emphasize on your GRE quant scores, whereas the social science and language fields focus on your verbal score more.
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Also there is a massive meta-analysis by Kuncel et al (2001) that proves that there is a high correlation between various aspects of the GRE and performance in the graduate school. This study has also proved a correlation between GRE scores with GPA and GRE score with faculty ratings of the student.
Standardized tests like GRE measure your baseline ability. Essentially it’s the baseline test that most graduate schools require. Programs in the U.S. require GRE because it provides a standard way to compare candidates to each other;
In layman words it tells the admission committee that how does a guy with a GPA of 3.5 can be compared to someone with a GPA of 3.5 at Iqra University.
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GRE Subject Tests
The GRE subject test is a competence measurement test. It highlights your strengths in a specific subject area such as Biology, Physics or Math. But not all programs need subject test scores since they only want candidates with a baseline performance which is measured by the GRE general exam.
Correlations of GRE subject test with research and publication citation counts are higher than those with the general test. This is not surprising since research and publications require only subject specific knowledge which is only checked using the subject test scores.
Thus, the GRE combines both standardization and competence measurement.