Students work very hard to create an impressive profile to gain admission into the university of their choice, but sometimes, despite hard work, they may end up with low GRE scores or an average academic score. This often puts them in a quandary as to which universities to apply to? Which universities are GRE centric and which are academic-centric? A common thought that prevails among students is that they must analyze what is stronger in their profile- GRE or GPA and accordingly apply to a university which is either GRE centric or academic-centric. Though this may sound simple, but in reality, the selection procedure is highly unpredictable and irrespective of the score and academics, one cannot be certain of securing admission. Hence, you cannot exclusively categorize any of the universities as “GRE-centric” or “academic-centric” and universities won’t directly tell you either. Universities, however, do have cut-off scores with regards to GRE scores and GPAs. Hence, conducting a preliminary research and looking up the universities’ past year admission records and the scores of previously accepted students will be an indicator of a university’s preference.
As the name suggests, GRE cent cut off universities give significant importance to your GRE and TOEFL scores. These scores act as filtering criteria. This implies that GRE centric universities will not look into your profile if your score is below the cut off score limit set by the university. Most of the Ivy League or top universities are GRE centric.
A tentative list of GRE centric universities in the USA are-
This list is not conclusive but based on analysis of previous admission results, these universities can be considered to be GRE centric. Good test scores will enhance your chances of making it to these US universities, but overlooking other crucial aspects is unwise. You could have an impressive resume and perfect GRE scores and still be rejected because of a flimsy SOP. It is advisable that students do not neglect other aspects of the profile and work towards writing good SOPs and application essays.
Academic centric universities, on the other hand give more weightage to your Academics i.e. CGPA or percentage score, SOP and Letter of Recommendations as compared to your GRE scores while deciding on giving offering you admission. Many top schools are highly academic-centric, i.e. they give more weightage to academic performance as compared to any other parameter. Some universities are research-centric and greatly value research experience and papers more than GRE.
For example, Georgia Tech ECE department accepted students with distinction and GRE scores in the range of 310 for Fall 2016. The University of Dallas at Texas extended admit to a student with 83% aggregate with a low GRE score of 305 for the Fall 2015 semester while a student with 70% academics and GRE score of 318 was rejected for low academics. Another example of an academic-centric University is the Oklahoma State University at Stillwater which rejected Electrical engineering students with brilliant GRE scores but unimpressive academic record. Even USC, Department of Computer Science, is extremely academic-centric.
One must also understand that the university’s admission parameters may vary from department to department within the same university. This means that a university which is academic-centric for a particular course may consider GRE or other parameters for another course while granting admission. For example- A university offering a management course considers work experience over academics and GRE scores as a deciding factor and the same university offering courses in fashion designing, interior designing may give more weightage to the portfolio of the candidate over academics and GRE scores. Likewise, a research-oriented course will give more weightage to research papers and publications. An example of a research-centric university is the Purdue University at West Lafayette.
To conclude, parameters like academics and GRE are used as preliminary elimination considerations. If your application goes through the preliminary round, then the admission committee evaluates your entire profile. A majority of the universities believe in a holistic approach and consider all the aspects of the profile and are on the lookout for deserving candidates with a genuine interest and passion for the program.
Remember that no matter how high your GRE and TOEFL scores may be, given the level of competition today, the other aspects such as academics, extracurricular activities, work experience go a long way in improving your chances of securing admission in top universities.