If your school accepts GRE Score Select, should you use it?

Grad School Admissions


With the appearance of the new GRE Score Select option (which you can read about on the GRE website, here), a whole new world of opportunities has opened up for students:

  • Do you submit all of your scores to schools?
  • Do you submit just your most recent scores to schools?
  • Do you submit whatever administration's scores you want to schools?

The possibilities are endless!

Unfortunately, the doubts and confusion surrounding the implications of the GRE Score Select option appear to be endless, too. I've heard many questions spanning the topic of the GRE Score Select option as it applies to applications. A few of them are:

  • If a score doesn't specify whether it accepts Score Select, can I still use it?
  • If a school asks me to submit all of my GRE scores, and use Score Select to only send them certain ones, am I lying to schools?
  • If a school accepts Score Select and I only send them the scores I want them to see, am I gaming the system?

There seems to be a surprising amount of existential and ethical dilemmas surrounding this particular bit of the grad school application process, so I thought I would give my two cents on it. Hopefully, it'll help clear up some of the confusion and fear that applicants looking at Score Select have.

Let me start by saying this: I don't believe that the GRE Score Select option is unethical in and of itself. It's very similar to the College Board's SAT Score Choice program, which many universities and colleges around the country have readily espoused. Both programs essentially let students put their best foot forward--and isn't that what applicants seek to do anyway? It's why they spend weeks doing schoolwork to get that high GPA and hours working on application essays and other applicant paraphernelia. They're making sure that they show the best version of themselves they can--and that's what both of these score selection programs do. There's nothing wrong with that.

However (and you knew there was a however coming, didn't you?), the problems will arise in how students use these score selection programs.

For example, if a school asks you to submit all of your GRE scores, and you only send them a few through the Score Select option, then yes--you're being unethical, and you're lying to schools. Score Select isn't being unethical; you are.

But if a school stipulates that you are at liberty to use the Score Select option when reporting your scores, and you use it--then everything is fine. You're keeping within the school's wishes. No one is being unethical or secretive. You're just using what you've been given permission to use to put your best foot forward.

If a school doesn't stipulate one way or another, you could swing either way--and neither would be wrong. However, I would probably call the school and ask regarding their policies for a program such as GRE Score Select; it's better to get the information straight from the source and comply with policies than assume one thing and have it be something else entirely.

So, is using Score Select okay? Absolutely. As long as you comply with what each school is asking, it's 100% fine to use.  

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