GPA vs GRE: Which One Matters More?

Philippe Barr, PhD
7 min readApr 19, 2023

While they might not make for the most exciting of subjects, the GPA vs GRE score debate is essential when it comes to deciding the next steps of your educational journey. Likely, you’ve already heard no shortage of advice about which is more important in securing admission into top universities or graduate programs — but which one really matters more?

Knowing what institutions value can help you determine where to focus your energy, allowing you to make thoughtful decisions on how best to prepare for life after college. In this blog post, we’ll look at why both the GPA and GRE are key components in education applications, and ultimately evaluate which plays a greater role in achieving success!

Understanding The Basics — What Do GPA and GRE Stand For and What Are They Used for in Graduate Admissions Applications

The GPA and GRE are two of the most important elements in graduate admission applications. The GPA can give admission committees a quick insight into an applicant’s academic performance and potential as a successful graduate student.

A higher GPA indicates that the student has excelled academically, showing their dedication to learning and their ability to handle rigorous coursework. It also conveys that an applicant can remain focused on their studies, despite any other commitments they may have. Ultimately, strong grades demonstrate hard work and commitment- two traits that all graduate programs look for in prospective students.

When required, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is another important factor in the graduate admissions process. It serves to provide a standardized measure of academic skill, allowing universities to accurately compare applicants from different backgrounds and educational systems. By providing an objective measure of academic ability, the GRE helps universities evaluate student potential for success in their graduate program.

Additionally, it can help students showcase their strengths and demonstrate that they have what it takes to be successful in a challenging graduate-level curriculum.

GPA vs GRE- Weighing Which One Will Be More Important in The Admissions Process

When it comes to graduate school admissions, both the GPA and the GRE are important considerations for admission committees. Ultimately, each institution may place different levels of importance on these criteria when making admissions decisions.

Generally speaking, universities with more competitive programs will weigh both factors heavily; however, some schools may be more focused on one or the other depending on their unique needs and preferences. Therefore, it is important to research what kind of weight each particular school places on GPA vs GRE scores before applying to maximize your chances of acceptance.

The Importance of Your Graduation Date When Admissions Committees Look at Your GPA and GRE

Your graduation date is an important factor when admissions committees look at your GPA and GRE scores during the graduate school admissions process. Having graduated recently shows that you have completed a rigorous academic program within a certain period of time, demonstrating dedication to your studies and good time management skills.

It also indicates that you are well-prepared for the demanding nature of the graduate school curriculum, as it can be assumed that recent graduates will be more up-to-date on current theories and practices in their field of study than those who have finished college many years before.

Furthermore, graduating close to the application deadline may help demonstrate a strong work ethic and eagerness to pursue advanced education immediately upon leaving undergraduate studies. Ultimately, having a recent graduation date is an indication of your preparedness for graduate studies, so admissions committees may give more weight to your application if it stands out in this regard.

Your graduation date will also influence how admissions committees look at both your GPA and GRE scores. If you graduated recently, they will see them both as current indicators of your academic potential. A strong GPA shows that you have maintained good grades throughout your studies, while a good GRE score demonstrates your aptitude for more advanced learning.

Both criteria provide valuable insight into your ability to succeed in graduate school, so it makes sense that admissions committees would consider them together. Additionally, since universities often have different grading scales and requirements, looking at both GPA and GRE scores can help create an even playing field for applicants from various backgrounds.

By weighing both academic records and test scores, graduate school admissions committees can ensure that each applicant is evaluated fairly based on their own merits.

When Does the GPA Carry More Weight Than the GRE in the Graduate School Admissions Process?

If you graduated recently, there are some cases, however, when your GPA may carry more weight than your GRE score in the admissions process. This is particularly true for students who have earned an exceptionally high undergraduate grade point average (GPA). A strong academic record suggests that a student has a solid foundation of knowledge and can handle rigorous coursework at the graduate level.

Additionally, many graduate schools take into consideration a student’s performance over an extended period of time when reviewing applications, so a consistently high GPA is impressive. On the other hand, GRE scores reflect only one aspect of a student’s skills and abilities, so a high GPA may be preferred over a strong GRE score if it reflects the student’s academic potential more accurately.

Ultimately, graduate schools want to select applicants who are well-prepared for advanced coursework, which is why in some cases GPA may weigh more heavily than the GRE. In other words, if you graduated recently with a strong GPA and did not do well on your GRE test, it might not be the end of the world. Keep in mind, though, that the highest the program is ranked, the more room admissions committees have to be extra selective.

When Does the GRE Carry More Weight Than The GPA in the Graduate School Admissions Process?

If you graduated a long time ago, this is when the GRE score might help you offset a less-than-stellar GPA. This is because the GRE tests current knowledge on a range of topics and skills, whereas the student’s GPA reflects something that happened several years in the past.

A low or high GPA from many years ago may not reflect your current level of knowledge, which is why admissions staff might prefer to see a more recent score on the GRE. The exam can provide an accurate snapshot into your abilities and knowledge, as it tests analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, and verbal skills-all essential for graduate school success.

When considering admission to a graduate school program, the GRE can be more important than GPA in other circumstances as well. For example, if students have a lower GPA but demonstrate strong writing ability on their GRE essay, this could help them gain an edge over other applicants with higher GPAs but weaker writing skills.

Additionally, for programs that focus heavily on research or analytical problem-solving skills, the quantitative reasoning and verbal sections of the GRE may carry more weight than traditional academic performance as measured by GPA.

Finally, if a student has taken challenging courses such as those offered at the honors level or AP classes and earned a lower GPA due to the difficulty of these classes, then their high scores on the GRE could be seen as evidence of their intellectual capability and might be taken into account more than the GPA.

Doing the Math — Balancing GPA vs GRE Scores in the Big Picture

Balancing the importance of a student’s GPA and GRE scores in the big picture is an important consideration for any prospective graduate school applicant. While there is no cookie-cutter answer and this decision will vary from one individual to another, it’s important to note that both are equally valid indicators of academic success and should be taken into account when considering admission to a graduate program.

A high GPA shows evidence of sustained long-term academic performance and dedication to coursework while a strong score on the GRE indicates analytical ability, capacity for learning new material quickly, and a high potential for success in rigorous graduate-level courses. Ultimately, you should aim to create a balance between these two elements by striving to maintain solid grades while preparing diligently for the GRE exam.

Taking a holistic approach to both elements of the admission process and understanding their importance in the bigger picture will help you make an informed decision about graduate school admissions.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, when it comes to achieving success in your educational endeavors, the importance the GPA vs GRE debate should not be underestimated because both matter. Whether one plays a more critical role than the other largely depends on what kind of school you are applying for and the field of study. At the end of the day, the critical aspect is your tenacity and hard work to keep up with high standards of academic achievement. To give yourself an edge over others and increase your chances for success, consider utilizing our graduate application services for greater results. Put yourself in the best position to succeed and start today!

Originally published at on April 19, 2023.



Philippe Barr, PhD

I am Philippe Barr, founder of The Admit Lab, a graduate school admissions consultancy that helps students get admitted into grad school: