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Should I take the GRE Subject Test?


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As a bit of background, I'm a Junior seeking to apply to PhD programs in molecular biology/genetics this December. Many of the top-tier "dream" schools I've been looking at say that they "don't require the GRE Subject Test, but strongly recommend it." Yet I've known people who got into their programs without having taken a Subject Test.

I took the regular GRE last summer and somehow managed a 1500. It was only after that that I first heard about GRE Subject tests. I've been doing undergrad research throughout my college career - and if luck serves me, I'll have 1-2 pubs and some good rec letters at the end of my time here.

Relative to that, just how heavily do you think upper-tier schools (say, Berkeley or Rockefeller) weigh the GRE Subject Tests?

Thanks for any input you have!

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You sound like you're in good shape to me. Since you don't need to focus on the general GRE anymore, why not work on the Subject GRE? If you can do well, it will make you more impressive, but I don't think it's essential. So, if you don't feel ready when it comes time to decide whether or not to take it -- skip it.

Edited by emmm
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I'm not in your field, so someone else in your field could give more specific advice. But from what I've seen generally, when a school (especially a top tier school) says that they don't require the subject GRE, but recommend it, then you don't need to take the test if you have an otherwise strong profile. And you seem to have a strong profile, especially with your potential publication(s). Would they be in a famous journal or conference? Often times, the subject GRE is used by schools to determine an applicant's ability in the field if they have some weakness or uncertainty in their application - such as a low GPA or if they are from an unknown school. I'm assuming that those concerns wouldn't apply to you - is that a fair assumption?

Another thing to take into consideration, is that you may end up applying to a school that does require the subject GRE, since it's always a good strategy to apply to a couple lesser ranked schools that would be a good fit for you. So it might be good to take the subject test to have the scores handy in case you do end up needing them. Plus, if you do take the test, and do well on it, then that would only help your application to the top tier schools. Good luck on your journey!

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My publications won't be in anything top-tier, but they won't be anything to sneeze at either.. that's if I get them finished in time! (Fingers crossed!) :)

Thanks for the input, I'll definitely think about your suggestions! I think I may also repost this in the Biology subforum for more opinions from my field.

Edited by bionerd
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