How important are my GRE scores to be accepted to most Information Science programs?

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About the GRE

The General Record Test is a standardized test used by learning institutions in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other countries for graduate-level admissions. Administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the exam measures verbal reasoning, analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, and critical thinking skills. The specific sections of the test involve geometry, arithmetic, algebra, and data analysis. Data in tables and graphs, frequency distributions, random variables, and Venn diagrams are examples of the data analysis topics.

The ETS site provides details regarding registration, including the fee, test centers, ID requirements (original government-issued document with photo), which school to send your scores to, and how to create an ETS account. Before making plans or stressing about the examination, you need to verify the admission requirements on your list of schools. Many institutions have suspended the GRE requirement because of COVID.

According to the ETS, more test centers are reopening, and you have the option of taking the GRE at home. Interested registrants can check out the available test centers currently open from this link. There is also information about the at-home test that outlines the necessary downloads and computer equipment. As of March 12, 2021, test centers stipulate that you must wear a mask upon arrival and may need to wear it throughout the exam. Local policy and test centers set the rules concerning how long you must wear the mask.

About Information Science

This multi-discipline involves the collection, classification, storage, retrieval, distribution, and analysis of information. Examples of the associated disciplines are psychology, technology, computer science, information theory, mathematics, and economics. There are GRE Subject Tests, one of which is mathematics, which consists of these contents areas:

  • Calculus 50%
  • Algebra 25%
  • Additional Topics 25%: Sequences, geometry, variables, graph theory, statistics, probability, and more

There is the possibility that the mathematics test might be required in addition to the General Test.

The School of Information at the University of Michigan offers a Master of Science in Information Science with no mention of the GRE. Their application process includes the standard transcripts, letters of recommendation (3), personal statement, and resume. Non-native English-speaking students must submit the score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

The School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina (UNC) has an M.S. in Information Science (MSIS). Graduate program admissions state that the GRE is not required and not recommended. However, they admit that students may voluntarily submit the GRE score if they feel the score might substantiate academic capabilities. UNC emphasizes a student’s letters of recommendation, personal statement, work experience, and prior educational achievements.

UNC’s abolishment of the GRE is becoming more prevalent. The pandemic contributed to the suspension and, in some cases, the demise of the GRE requirement. As mentioned, the test center closures were also a factor. However, in a post-pandemic world, it remains doubtful that graduate programs will reinstitute the GRE. Some critics opine that the standardized test discriminates against minorities, and it’s an invalid measure of success for those pursuing a master’s degree.

All 31 graduate programs at Caltech abolished the GRE for the 2021-2022 academic year; Auburn University’s Biological Sciences, Albert Einstein College of Medicine Biomedical Sciences, Brown University, Princeton University, and Florida State are examples of schools that have eliminated the examination.


Individuals who want to pay the fee ($205), prepare, register, and take the test may use the scores for up to five years. For those in this group, it helps to know about the examination scoring. The reported score scale is:

Verbal Reasoning:  130-170, in 1 point increments

Quantitative Reasoning:  same

Analytical Writing:  1-6, in half-point increments

The Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning test scores are section-level adaptive. The computer program chooses the second section as a measure of your performance in the first section. The two measures convert to a raw score or number of questions answered correctly. A score of 150 places you in the 48th percentile on verbal and 38th on the quantitative. A 160 score results in percentiles of 86 and 76, respectively.

Average scores for M.S. students in mathematical science programs, the average verbal is 155 and quantitative averages 158.5. Similar averages are for bioengineering students. This information may help a student decide whether to submit their scores when the GRE is voluntary

The analytical writing essays use a six-point scale marked by at least one trained rater. A computer also assesses writing proficiency for each piece. The final score is from one to six – which attests to your critical thinking and analytical writing skills – not your grammar and style. A score of 4 places you in the 60th percentile, and a 5.0 is in the 93rd percentile.


The GRE scores are not necessary for admission into graduate programs in information sciences and other majors. The standardized exam has lost much of its luster over the years. With that in mind, it’s best to check with admissions for each college or university on your list.

Additional Resources

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What are schools looking for when looking at applications of Information Science students?

Covid has made taking the TOEFL difficult for an international student applying to information science programs. What other options do I have?

What should I study as an undergrad in preparation for a Master’s in Information Science?