GRE as a Predictor of Success

The GRE is intended to gauge a student's knowledge and intellectual ability as relevant for preparation to begin graduate study; as such, it is reasonable to expect that a high GRE score would be reasonably predictive of the ability to succeed in graduate school. ETS cites a number of GRE Board Reports and ETS Research Reports defending the validity of the GRE score as a predictive measure of graduate success. One study found that students scoring in the top quartile in the GRE were 3 to 5 times likelier to earn 4.0 graduate grade point averages compared to students in the bottom quartile. Substantial differences related to the GRE score quartile remained even after controlling for undergraduate grade point average quartiles. An analysis of the GRE’s validity in predicting graduate school success found a correlation of 0.30 to 0.45 between GRE score and graduate grade point average. The study also found a correlation of 0.11 to 0.39 between GRE score and graduate school completion rates.

Regardless of the usefulness of the GRE as an evaluative or predictive measurement, it plays an important role in the admissions selection process, and is therefore an important component of a graduate school application. In addition to its role as a selection tool, through the section scores or subject testing it is also possible to utilize the GRE as a diagnostic tool for advising or curricular planning. This function of the GRE may be especially useful for students who take GRE Subject Tests. Of course, it is also possible for students to distinguish themselves by getting a remarkably high score.

Because the GRE is used as an evaluation tool by so many disparate graduate programs, it is difficult to accurately assess its validity as a gauge of accomplishment or indicator of success. It is certainly a better fit for some schools than for others, especially for students who take subject testing. Studying for the GRE may itself be useful, as it encourages you to strengthen your skills and learn useful material. Regardless, because of its importance to the admissions process, a high score on the GRE is one step on the path to successful graduate study.


One of the most powerful uses of a competitive GRE score is the ability to quickly signal your proficiencies to peers and potential employers. Although your scores are only official for five years after the test date, you can refer back to them as frequently and for as long as is useful. For students going to business school, networking is one of the crucial "soft skills" that will help lead to success, by helping to connect you to a variety of diverse, talented, passionate leaders in various fields. If you want to build meaningful connections, it is helpful to bring something quantifiable to the table. If you have taken substantial major coursework, you may also want to consider taking a GRE Subject Test to demonstrate your specific proficiencies. Although credentials are not required for professional success, they can help you get your foot in the door, both for admissions committees and while forming creative or entrepreneurial teams.

Admissions Consulting

In addition to striving for a top GRE or GMAT score, a majority of candidates to business school now utilize admissions consulting to help them find a program that is a good fit for their talents and interests. Admissions consultants review an applicant's profile, help them identify strengths and weaknesses in their own background, and help them form a plan to strengthen their applications and present themselves in a way that schools will find understandable and appealing. Admissions consulting may be a particularly good choice for students who are unsure of their career aspirations, or who are unaware of the variety of graduate training programs available.

One of the great attributes of the GRE is that it is an extremely general test, designed to fairly evaluate students from myriad academic disciplines. It is a test that is designed to elevate well-rounded students who analyze information and digest reading material efficiently and accurately, making them capable of learning and building knowledge at a professional level. After you have obtained a high test score, however, the next step is learning how to leverage your scores, grades, and professional experience into a compelling portfolio that will impress business or graduate schools. Your personal narrative must communicate your identity, your vision for the future, your ability to contribute to academic and professional institutions, and your willingness to collaborate, follow, and lead others as the situation requires.

Admissions committees have busy schedules, so you only have a brief window of communication. Your scores and grades themselves communicate volumes, representing the capstone of years of work and effort. If you are fortunate enough to earn interviews, then you want to have a cohesive vision of your own path towards success, featuring your studying at your school of choice and explaining how that is an important part of your goals. Admissions counselors can help you review your own background, understand your personal strengths and limitations, and get a sense of the competitive market of the graduate school application process. We communicate regularly with competitive international institutions as well as regional programs. With students from all over the world in every academic and professional field, we understand and have access to a plethora of personal and institutional knowledge, which we can leverage to help our students succeed wherever their careers take them.