The Pre-PA Advisor Series
Welcome to the PA Advisors Series - a special series of posts where PA school applicants like yourself ask the tough questions and admissions directors from top-ranking PA schools provide the answers. This post is also included as part five of our five-part series "The 5 steps to PA school."
Posts in the series
Today We Will Discuss the GRE and Your PA School Application
Here are some of the questions answered in this post:
- What is a competitive GRE score?
- Is there a minimum GRE score?
- Do GRE scores expire?
- What if I have a great GPA but a low GRE score?
- Should retake the GRE?
- When should I take the GRE?
- If I take the GRE more than once, will my highest scores be used?
- Can a high GRE score overcome a not so high GPA?
According to the latest PAEA program survey and report, the average verbal reasoning score was 152.2 (SD = 5.32), and the average quantitative reasoning score was 152.0 (SD = 3.68). The average analytical writing score was 3.9 (SD = 0.28). If you like numbers, here are even more stats on what makes a competitive PA school candidate.
PA School Applicant Quick Tip:
Keywords: You can click on any of the following keywords to be taken directly to that topic. I have highlighted important points and included a summary of key recommendations at the end of this post.
Competitive GRE score, minimum GRE score, retaking the GRE, GPA vs healthcare experience, expiration date, GRE and low GPA, high GPA and low GRE, when to take the GRE, importance of GRE, multiple GRE scores, GRE vs personal statement, MCAT in place of GRE
PRE-PA QUESTION: Although your school does not require the GRE will my scores help me in the application process to offset a lower GPA?
Admissions response: We do not require or consider the GRE. Many do end up taking the GRE because other PA programs require it so we see it on the CASPA application, but it does not help or hurt you for our admissions review. - A.T. Still University
PRE-PA QUESTION: What is a competitive score for the GRE?
Our middle 50% of our incoming class had GRE General Test scores: - Duke University
- Verbal: 155-161
- Quantitative: 153-158
- Analytical Writing: 4.0 – 4.5
PRE-PA QUESTION: Is there a minimum GRE score?
We do not have a minimum GRE score requirement. We super score your sub-scores to create your highest overall GRE score. - Butler University
We look at the % rank of Q and V scores. Ideally, candidates will be in the 50th% of higher. There is additional consideration for those in the 75th % or higher. - Carroll University
We do not have a minimum required GRE score. - Case Western University
We do not have a minimum score listed but do look at all admission criteria holistically. - Marist College
The admissions committee looks for GRE scores in the 50th percentile or above for all categories. - Yale University
PRE-PA QUESTION: How heavily is the GRE weighted in comparison to GPA and PCE?
Admissions response: The GRE is less heavily looked at than the GPA and PCE. However, a really low or really high GRE score can certainly hinder or help significantly. - Duke University
PRE-PA QUESTION: Could you speak on desired test score/GPA combinations, please?
Admissions response: The GRE is required. It is less important than the GPA. Though an extremely high or low score can make/break an application - Duke University
PRE-PA QUESTION: Are GRE scores 4-5 yrs. old acceptable?
Admissions response: The GRE must have been taken within four years of the admissions year (Note: ETS keeps scores for five years, so please be aware of your test date) - Duke University
PRE-PA QUESTION: How big of an impact is the GRE on the application? Would you recommend retaking it if only one portion is slightly under the 50th percentile?
Admissions response: I wouldn't worry about retaking the GRE if you're just slightly under the 50th percentile - Duke University
PRE-PA QUESTION: What if your GPA is very high and the GRE is very low? What aspect of my application should I focus on the most?
Admissions response: A good GPA is excellent and will balance a poorer GRE but too low and you are a risk - you must pass pance after school completion and we wrestle with that too - Duke University
PRE-PA QUESTION: Is there any way the GRE score can overcome a low GPA?
Admissions response: Yes. GRE and GPA are taken together as an initial screening of candidates. So, a GRE can help make up for a lower GPA (within reason) - Butler University
PRE-PA QUESTION: Are all parts of the GRE considered when looking at applications: quantitative, verbal, and writing?
Admissions response: We specifically use a composite score of the quantitative and verbal but the written must be completed as well! - Butler University
PRE-PA QUESTION: When is the latest you would recommend taking the GRE to still apply for this summer?
Admissions response: It typically takes 2-3 weeks to get GRE scores. So we would safely say the last week of June and possibly the beginning of July.
PRE-PA QUESTION: Do you have any advice on preparing for the GRE? Any good resources?
Admissions response: I studied for the GRE over the summer with a GRE review book that I borrowed from a friend. The best study tips for the GRE are to work on your weaknesses the most, time yourself and answer as many practice questions as you can! We also recommend Magoosh GRE Prep - Butler University
PRE-PA QUESTION: How heavily does your school weigh GRE? Research experience?
Admissions response: The initial academic evaluation is GPA and GRE. The research experience would be looked at as secondary. - Butler University
PRE-PA QUESTION: For a candidate with a high GPA, experienced health professionals, and below the 50% percentile GRE, does the candidate stand any chance of being admitted?
Admissions response: If all GRE's are below the 50th percentile it may be difficult. We would recommend retaking the GRE's in that case. - Yale University
PRE-PA QUESTION: I will be applying to Yale's PA program this year. My GPA for science and overall is 3.9, however, my GRE scores were about the 50% range. Will my GRE scores be weighed heavily?
Admissions response: We look at the applicant holistically and not just GRE scores. 50th percentile scores are great scores. - Yale
PRE-PA QUESTION: I see that competitive applicants should have overall GRE scores above the 50 percentile. So do you look for above 50 percent in each section or the average of the 3 sections?
Admissions response: We look at each section. - Yale University
PRE-PA QUESTION: If we have taken the GRE more than once, do you take the highest individual section score from each test?
Admissions response: Yes, we take the highest score. We don't pick and choose from each section, we take the highest score from the overall exam. - Yale University
PRE-PA QUESTION: If someone does not do as well on the GRE will they still get looked at if they have overall good grades? How much are they weighed in comparison to the personal essay and healthcare experience?
Admissions response: We complete a holistic review. We do not have a minimum GRE requirement though I would encourage you to review our class profile/GRE range to make sure your scores are in the competitive range. - Marist College
PRE-PA QUESTION: I have seen that some PA schools accept the MCAT or the GRE. Could I submit MCAT scores instead of the GRE?
Admissions response: We will accept MCAT scores and we have no minimum MCAT score. Most students submit the GRE but overall the admission decision is made based on review of all admission criteria. - Marist College
We do require GRE and do not substitute MCAT for it - Carroll University
PRE-PA QUESTION: I will be an applicant for this year's cycle. How heavily is the GRE weighted in the application process, and is there a specific score you are looking for?
Admissions response: In the landscape of what we look at, it's fairly low down there though we do reassess its usefulness on an annual basis. - Case Western University
PRE-PA QUESTION: At what GRE writing score do you reject individuals?
Admissions response: We do not reject anyone based on GRE scores, at this point we simply require that you take it. At this point, it is not a major portion of our candidate assessment. - Case Western University
PRE-PA QUESTION: I scored above the 60th percentile in verbal and writing but got a 148 in QR. I am thinking about retaking it but I want to see if it is necessary and If I do retake the GRE and I do improve in the QR but see a drop in one of the other two sections would this reflect poorly on me or do you consider the highest scores between multiple tests?
Admissions response: For our purposes do not recommend spending your time retaking the GRE since the rest of your application is weighed so much more heavily. - Case Western University
PRE-PA QUESTION: I have a master's degree in Biomedical Engineering, will a master's degree from Ohio State allow me to waive taking the GRE?
Admissions response: You still need to take the GRE. We require GRE but we do not post a "cut off" for GRE. We do a holistic approach to our review of an applicant file. We look at all aspects of the file, we do not list a specific number for GRE (minimum score) because we look at the entire application and we look at a range of GRE overall scores and individual component scores - Case Western University
I'm sorry. I took the GRE in 2014, would this be "expired" or is this within your time frame of accepted GRE dates?
Admissions response: GREs within 5 years of application year are still acceptable. - Case Western University
Key Point and Highlights:
- GRE scores are not the biggest piece in the puzzle though truly low scores can hurt
- Although many schools don't have minimum scores, candidates you should aim for 50th% or higher
- I wouldn't worry about the GRE if you're just slightly under the 50th%
- It typically takes 2-3 weeks to get GRE scores so plan accordingly
- 115 of 256 (45% of both accredited and non-accredited) PA programs DO NOT require the GRE, but 55% do
- Taking the GRE is an extra step, so studying hard and doing well may open up some doors
- GRE resources are vast, but the consensus is that online resources such as Magoosh.com and the Kaplan GRE Prep Plus Book are a good place to start
- If you retake the GRE schools take the highest score from the overall exam
- Most schools don't accept the MCAT in place of the GRE but some do. So check with the school directly
- Many schools require the GRE but do not post a "cut off" for the GRE. It is often approached holistically as part of the overall review of an applicant's file
- GREs taken within 5 years of your application year are still acceptable for most schools. Some schools do have earlier, or no expiration dates, so check.
Although this is not an exhaustive list you will see that there are many possible answers to each of these questions, and it depends on the PA program and its requirements. For a list of schools that do (and do not) require the GRE check out the perfect PA school program picker to sort by GRE and many CASPA application variables.
Best of luck and make sure to leave any questions you may have in the comments section.
Stephen Pasquini PA-C
The PA Advisor Series
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- Prerequisite Coursework: How to Design the Perfect Pre-PA School Curriculum
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