GRE scores have long been a part of the admissions requirements for graduate students, including those pursuing an online master’s degree in education or teaching. However, students are increasingly finding that even many well-respected Master of Education programs don’t require the standardized test for admission anymore. GRE scores have always been just one small factor in the overall application package that admissions officers consider, and schools that don’t require GRE scores are giving precedence to the factors they consider more relevant to admissions decisions.

What Education Professionals Need to Know About the GRE

The often-used acronym GRE stands for Graduate Record Examination. The educational testing and assessment organization Educational Testing Services, or ETS, administers the GRE and other exams used for career credentialing and, often, for consideration into higher education programs. Typically, GRE refers to the GRE General exam, but ETS also offers six GRE Subject Tests in the disciplines of chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics, psychology and English literature.

Do Most Master's Programs Require a GRE Score?

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The GRE General exam primarily assesses test takers’ abilities in reasoning. The test begins with two timed tasks, one asking students to analyze an issue and the other to analyze an argument, that are designed to evaluate students’ skills in analytical writing. Students also answer questions in the areas of verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning. GRE questions can appear in many different formats, from multiple choice to text completion and data entry.

Both paper and computer-based delivery of the GRE are available, although there are slight differences between the paper and computer-based versions of the exam. Each section of the GRE is scored independently. Scores on the analytical writing section of the GRE range from 0 to 6 and can be awarded in half-point increments. The test’s quantitative reasoning and verbal reasoning sections both are scored in one-point increments on a scale from 130 to 170.

Generally, the average GRE scores are 3.55 for the analytical writing section, 153.07 for the quantitative reasoning section and 150.24 for the verbal reasoning section. Among education majors, average verbal reasoning scores were higher, at 151 points, than quantitative reasoning scores, at 148 points. For a competitive score, students want to achieve a total of 310 to 315 or higher between the quantitative and verbal sections, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Educational Testing Services identifies the GRE as the most widely used exam worldwide for graduate and professional school admission.

GRE Requirements in Online Master’s Education Programs

Whether you did not perform as well on the GRE as you hoped or you simply don’t want to take the exam – which requires application fees, considerable time spent studying and hours of your time on test day – you might wonder if you can get into graduate school without the GRE. Although the exam has historically been required for entrance to many graduate school programs in many different disciplines, it is becoming less popular even among the science disciplines, according to Chemical and Engineering News.

For Master of Education programs, in particular, many online and traditional colleges are phasing out GRE requirements as part of admissions. Schools that have dropped GRE requirements or never required the test for their online Master of Education students include regionally accredited institutions that have earned programmatic recognition from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), proving that even well-recognized, high-quality programs are among those not requiring GRE scores for admission.

Despite the trends, some schools still expect online and campus-based graduate education students to have GRE scores to include in an application. You should make your decision to take or retake the exam based on the requirements of your intended school.

Factors That Affect Admission Potential Into Online Master’s Education Programs

If your first-choice school does not require the GRE for admission into its online master’s in education or teaching program, then admissions officers are basing their acceptance decisions on other criteria. Some programs are swapping one standardized exam for another. At Rutgers University School of Education, for example, students now need to take the PRAXIS Core exam in place of the GRE.

Other online master’s in education programs require no standardized test scores. Often, these schools have concluded that standardized assessments of reasoning skills don’t provide the most valuable insights into how well a student will perform in graduate school and how the student will bring value to the field of education with their degree. Most Master of Education programs are professional programs, rather than research-based programs. Factors like experience, involvement in school settings, letters of recommendation and the goals expressed in educators’ own personal statements or essays may carry more weight in these programs.

Even if the online graduate program you want to enroll in does not require GRE scores, it may still have demanding admissions requirements in other areas, including GPA, teaching experience and service to the education field.

Additional Resources

Is It Easier to Get Into an Online Master’s Program?

Are Online Master’s Programs Easier Than In-Person Programs?

Do You Ever Have to Go to the Physical University If You’re Taking Your Classes Online?

What Are the Skills Needed to Be Successful in an Online Master’s Program?