TOEFL and GRE Updates
Each U.S. institution requires different minimum scores on standardized tests. There are no minimum “passing” scores on these tests. Your scores, while an important part of your application, are only one of a number of selection criteria, and they will be reviewed together with all the other parts of your application.
It takes up to fifteen business days for scores from computer-based tests to be reported to institutions and up to six weeks for the scores from paper-based tests to be reported to institutions. Since dates to take these tests are not frequent and space is limited, you should not delay registering. Keep in mind that these tests can be retaken.
The TOEFL test examines your English reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills. This test or a similar measure of English proficiency will be required by all U.S. colleges and universities. To help you prepare, please visit the TOEFL channel on YouTube: www.youtube.com/TOEFLtv
Another major source for information about the TOEFL test is www.TOEFLgoAnywhere.org. You can not only get help with preparing but also find test centers, register, and obtain codes for sending your scores to particular schools.
The GRE general test examines your verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing skills. You can learn more and register for GRE at www.takethegre.com.
Always review the admission requirements of the institution and the specific department to which you plan to apply to determine whether the GRE general test is required. In many cases, U.S. institutions can determine your verbal reasoning and English analytical writing skills with your TOEFL scores and therefore do not require the GRE general test or do not give much weight to those parts of the GRE in the admissions process.
You’ll also want to see if the university is requiring GRE subject test scores if you are applying to a field related to one for which a GRE subject test exists. Even if it is not a requirement, if you believe you can score very well you may want to consider taking the subject test for your field, as it would help show you are a strong candidate in the field.
GRE subject tests are available the following fields:
- Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology
- Computer Science
- Literature in English
A growing number of business schools are now accepting GRE general test scores as a substitute for the GMAT, so that is one more point to check with the universities to which you are applying if you are interested in business.
Once you register to take TOEFL, the GRE general test, or a GRE subject test, the Educational Testing Service, which develops these tests, will provide you with online sample tests. These can be very helpful for your preparation.
Graduate admissions committees at U.S. universities are composed of professors from the specific program to which you are applying as well as admissions staff and sometimes students. To review and evaluate your application, they look at a number of factors and choose applicants who are well-suited for the program. Our new podcast, giving more details and tips on the graduate student selection process is now available at
In this podcast you’ll hear from a professor who serves on a university admissions committee talk about the selection process, how the data on each application is evaluated to short-list students, and how they reach their final decisions. Listening to the professor’s point of view will help you understand how each component of your application—from your test scores, grades, letters of and recommendation to your statement of purpose—influences their decision-making.
We hope that you’ll find our podcast helpful. Please do not hesitate to e-mail us with your recommendations and comments.