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What’s the Biggest Graduate School Admissions Application Killer? A Low GRE(R) Score, According to Kaplan’s 2014 Survey of Admissions Officers

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Kaplan Test Prep’s 2014 survey of over 150 top graduate schools across the United States busts a myth that exists among some prospective students that the GRE doesn’t matter “that much” in the admissions process. In fact, the opposite is true. According to the Kaplan survey, 41% of graduate schools say that a low GRE score is the biggest “application killer,” far outdistancing a low undergraduate GPA at 27%. Poor letters of recommendation is the biggest roadblock selected by 18% of graduate schools, while 8% say poorly written personal essays are. Only 6% say a lack of relevant work experience is the biggest application killer.

“What we sometimes hear from our students is that, while they know scoring well on the GRE is an important part of the admissions process, it’s not nearly as critical as other pieces of the application such as undergraduate transcripts, so our survey results may come as a big surprise to many,” said Brian Carlidge, executive director of pre-business and pre-graduate programs. “While graduate schools look at all pieces of the application, how you score on the GRE is make-or-break for many of them. Admissions officers may not even consider other pieces of the application like your undergraduate GPA, letters of recommendation or personal essays, no matter how impressive they are, unless your GRE score meets their requirements.”

According to the Council of Graduate Schools, in the most recently recorded year (2013), 459,000 students enrolled in graduate school for the first time, a 1% increase over the previous year. Total enrollment in graduate school was about 1.7 million students in fall 2013.

Kaplan will release additional results from its 2014 survey of graduate schools this winter. To make sure students receive the most accurate and up-to-date information on the admissions process, Kaplan Test Prep has been surveying admissions officers since 2004.

* For the 2014 survey, 152 admissions officers from the nation’s 200 top graduate school programs in education, engineering, psychology and public administration – as compiled by U.S. News & World Report – were polled by telephone between July and August 2014.

GRE(R) is a registered trademark of the Educational Testing Service, which neither sponsors nor endorses this product.

About Kaplan Test Prep

Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com) is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 90 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services. Additionally, Kaplan operates new economy skills training (NEST) bootcamps designed to provide immersive training in skills that are in high demand in today’s job market and prepare participants for hire.

Note to editors: Kaplan is a subsidiary of The Graham Holdings Company (NYSE:GHC)

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