How to Waive the GRE Exam

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The GRE general test measures critical thinking, analytical writing, verbal and quantitative reasoning skills acquired over a long period of time that are not related to any specific field of study. General test scores are used by graduate admissions departments to supplement undergraduate records and other qualifications for graduate study. The scores provide common measures to compare qualifications of applicants and aid in the evaluation of grades and recommendations. While a few accredited graduate programs do not require a GRE, most do. In certain cases, it is possible to waive the GRE exam, but that decision is made on an individual basis, and certain steps must be taken to petition your particular school to waive the exam for your application.

  • Your transcripts
  • Your CV/Resume
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Contact information for your school's admissions office
  • Contact information for your department's head

1 Prepare all your application materials

Prepare all your application materials, including all your transcripts, your resume, and all your letters of recommendation from your undergraduate institution.

2 Call or email the admissions department

Call or email the admissions department at the university that you are applying to and enquire about the GRE requirements.

3 If the University requires the GRE exam

If the University requires the GRE exam, ask them to send you a petition form to waive the exam.

4 Fill out the petition form

Fill out the petition form and send it back to the admissions office along with the rest of your application materials.

5 Does not offer an option

If the admissions office does not offer an option to waive the exam, and you are still interested in applying, call or email the head of the department to which you are applying.

6 Explain your reasons

Explain your reasons for wishing to waive the GRE exam and present all your other qualifications, including your undergraduate grades and your professional experience.

7 Request a petition form

Request a petition form to waive the exam from the department.

8 Send one copy

Send one copy of the petition form along with your application to the admissions office, and another copy back to the department.

9 In most cases

In most cases, if your petition is denied, your application will not be rejected. Instead, you will likely hear back from the admissions office asking you to take the exam and send back the scores.

  • While a graduate program may agree to review your application without a GRE score, doing so may put you at a disadvantage, since you will be compared to other students who have taken the exam.
  • Universities with a strong focus on research are more likely to deny a petition to waive the GRE, as are universities with nationally high rankings. Special exceptions are often made for International students. If you completed your undergraduate studies at a foreign university, be sure to mention that fact when talking to the admissions office and the department head.

Based in New York City, Irina Paley has been writing education-related articles since 1999. Her articles have appeared in "AACE" and "Comparative Education." Paley received a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering from Columbia University in 2002, and a Master of Arts degree in instructional technology from Teacher's College in 2005. She is currently working toward a PhD in cognitive psychology.