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GRE for MS / MBA in USA ? GRE General vs Subjective tests? PhD Admission Tests?

One of things that first things that students think about when applying to US grad schools is, what standardized test should I take? ETS GRE exam Subjective vs GeneralThis article is all about GRE, their types, etc.  If you know what GRE is about, you do NOT read it. This is for someone who is does not know about GRE. This article is part of the series Steps to study in USA.

What is GRE ? GRE General test vs Subject Test ?

GRE stands for Graduate Record Examination. In layman’s terms,  it is a standardized test that is administered by ETS ( Educational Testing Service ).  There are two types of GRE tests. They are

In layman’s terms, GRE General Test is intended to test your verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing skills. It is geared towards testing if you have enough skills for getting into the graduate school and handle the graduate school course work.  It is exactly an entrance examination to get into graduate school for MS or MBA, which is similar whatever you took to get into Bachelors program.

GRE Subjective Test is geared to test your technical or subject skills in your undergraduate or bachelors major or degree focus.  They have subjective tests for Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, and Literature in English, Mathematics, Physics and Psychology. They are used for admission and fellowships as supplement or mandatory based on the school.

Is GRE General Test accepted for MS only or MBA too?   Both?

One of the tricky things that you have to decide on when you plan to take standardized test for grad school is to decide if the school you are applying to takes GRE general test for the program you are applying to. For the most part, GRE is accepted for all the MS degrees.  In fact for most of the good schools it is mandatory.  On the same lines, GRE is also accepted by many good business schools for MBA admissions, but not every school accept GRE for MBA admission.  For instance schools like  Harvard Business school, Stanford University, etc accept GRE. But, some good schools like University of Chicago,  Northwestern do NOT accept GRE. For the complete list, check : List of Schools that accept GRE General test for MBA Programs.  It is kind of obvious that if a school accepts GRE for MBA, then they accept GRE for MS programs too.  So, they accept both.  You have to be careful when deciding this because if you have a school in your mind and take GRE for MBA and that school is not in the list, then you will be disappointed. So, always check and confirm.

GRE Subjective or General tests for PhD admission ? Funding?

As you know, you can you do PhD without Masters directly after B.Tech or B.S in USA . The questions comes, what tests should I take for PhD admission ? The answer is it depends. For most of the schools, GRE general test for PhD admission is mandatory. For some schools GRE Subjective test is mandatory too, but for some schools it is optional.  For instance Biochemistry program at Rutgers GRE Subject test is Mandatory.  On the other hand, schools like WPI recommends GRE Subject test for their Computer Science PhD Program. So, it depends.  But, if you are applying for PhD without any research experience and if you take GRE subject test and you do well, you have higher chances of getting admission and funding. Think logically, the prime reason is, your subjective test scores reveal your technical knowledge or subjective understanding of your subject area and makes easier for the admission and funding for PhD.

How much does GRE cost ?

GRE General test cost varies between $160 – $205 depending on the nation. In US, it  costs $160 and most other locations it is $190. Check ETS – GRE General test Fee for full info. For GRE Subject test, it is $140 in US and $160 dollars in all other locations.

For complete information on GRE, you must visit : ETS – GRE


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  1. I have completed my Bachelors in Electronics and communication engineering from gujarat technology university ,India …I am lecturer in diploma engineering college I have 3 year experience pls u r suggestions for master in usa which course prefer for me…IN few months I have been green card holder pls suggestions me

    • Rutvi,
      Well, higher education is something that you need to be passionate about, you cannot just pick something because someone said that is good….take time to think about what you are passionate about and choose that…Think of what you want to do in 10 years….do something that will help you get there.

  2. I have completed BTech from Kathmandu university, Nepal. Give me some ideas what to do now that I want to try for US for further study and have scholarship and some universities aslo! plzzz

    • Bilim,
      What do you want to do in 5 to 10 years ? Your education should help you pursue your future aspirations of career. Take time to think or speak to some of your seniors around you to get advice. Scholarship and all things are part of the application process, you need to be clear on what you want to do first.

  3. Now I m studing in Second year in BE (CIVIL)…what I want to do to get scholarship for MS in any best university. Plz give me details abt exams, fellowship etc

  4. I have completed mu master of computer application with 7.40 cgpa in india. I have green card of USA. Now I want to study more. In which field should I apply? MS in CS/ CE or P.hd? Which test I have to give for Ph.d and MS?

    • Namrata Patel,
      It is something that you need to think about and decide. Just picking something randomly from others advise is not the best thing to do. You can pen down your thoughts on where you see yourself in 10 years and see what you want to do…pick up degree that will help you achieve your dream. If are passionate about research or teaching, PhD is something that will help you get there.. Usually you need to take GRE and TOEFL for most of the schools. You can get TOEFL waiver, if you are proficient in English by speaking to admissions…Again, the process and requirements varies by school and I suggest you check any of the universities’ websites for full info.

  5. Sir this is lokesh I completed my M. Sc. Physics With 86% marks(University first rank). Am interested to do P.h.D. in U. S. A.. Could u please tell me the details of exams, exam fee, fellowship, score details etc.

  6. Hi

    Can you please suggest top publications / materials for GRE preparation?

    There are few available on www.ets.org. But which ones do you suggest?



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