The Wall Street Journal’s education section recently published an article entitled “For Newly Minted M.B.A.s, a Smaller Paycheck Awaits”, about the job market for M.B.A. While the M.B.A remains an extremely popular option for graduate study (the number of degrees awarded grew by 74% from 2000-2001 to 2010-2011), the financial benefits once associated with it are not what they once were. According to the article, “recruiters’ expected median salary for newly hired M.B.A.s was essentially flat between 2008 and 2011, not adjusting for inflation, according to a survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council.”
At this point, you’re probably wondering, “Yes, but this is the GRE blog, not the b-school blog – why the heck do I care??” Well, you should take note for two reasons:
2) Whatever type of graduate program you’re applying to, don’t necessarily assume that it will double your paycheck the day you graduate. That may not even be a concern for you – after all, there are a number of reasons to get a master’s or PhD that have absolutely nothing to do with salary. But do the research on the average salary that your desired degree confers, and on any debt that you’ll accumulate to attain it, so that you have a realistic idea of what your financial situation will be when you graduate.
There are a number of resources that you can visit to learn more about what you can expect from a given graduate degree: Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce recently published a study on average salaries and unemployment rates by different bachelor’s and master’s degrees (don’t let my words of warning above scare you away from reading it – the data shows that the vast majority of master’s programs do result in a nice pay raise!), and you can start researching financial aid at Kaplan’s Grad School Financial Aid Hub. Happy hunting, and use the comments to let us know if you’d like any additional resources!
Join Kaplan’s Director of Graduate Programs, Lee Weiss, to get answers to some of our most frequently asked questions from GRE students like you.
This video discusses GRE FAQs including whether there is partial credit on the test and how to stay focused while taking a 4-hour exam. Only the essay section of the GRE awards, in a sense, partial credit. However, there is not partial credit for any of the Quantitative or Verbal question types. You must select all (and only) the correct answers to get credit.
To stay focused throughout the entire test, you must practice beforehand with timed drills and practice tests. Building mental stamina is key. You can sign up for a free Kaplan practice test to assess your skills.
If you have additional questions, please visit us on Facebook or Twitter. For more info on the New GRE, visit our GRE Test Info Center. If your GRE Test Taking skills need a boost, check out Kaplan’s GRE Advantage course, specifically designed to focus on essential tools for success on the GRE.
Are you confounded by how the GRE is scored? If so, you are not alone. Recently, a student preparing for the GRE asked, “Is the percentile based on how well you do compared to everyone else who took the test on the same day you did? Or, is it just based on how many questions you get right in each section?”
Scoring on the GRE is really complicated. Neither way she described is the way the percentiles are derived. Remember, this is a multi-stage test (thus: MST). In the first set of 20 questions that count toward your score, the questions are at a mix of various difficulty levels in addition to a mix of different topics and types of questions. The mix of difficulty levels of the second set of questions (in the same area, Math or Verbal) depends on how many of the questions you got correct in the first set.
So, if you got very few correct in the first set, you’ll get a mix of lower difficulty questions on the second set (not all super-low; there will be super-low, medium-low, and barely-low); if you get a medium number right, you’ll get a mix of medium difficulty questions, and if you get lots of them right, you’ll get a mix of high difficulty questions. But, even before you start that second set, the range of scores you can get as your final score is already predetermined. Lots of questions right on the first section means your final score will be in the upper range, medium number right puts you in the middle range, few right puts you in the lower range.
Then, depending on how many you get right on that second set and also on the difficulty level of the ones you get right on that second set (difficulty level right doesn’t matter on the first set; only how many you get right is what matters on that first set), your final score on the 130-170 scale is determined. At that point, the score is compared to scores of other people who took the test for all time. Not just on the day you took it, but for every day anyone took it. That’s what sets the percentile. In other words, for instance, 56% of people who took the GRE got a score on the math section that is lower than a score of 151.
I know this is complicated, but I hope it’s clear to you. There are two main takeaways:
- First, you can’t go from the number of questions you get right on the test to figure out what score you got. Someone with lots of questions right on the first section, but few right on the second section might get fewer questions right than someone with few right on the first section and then many right on the second. However, that first person will get a significantly higher score than the second one.
- Second, you really can’t tell how you’re doing while you’re taking the test. The most important thing for you to do is to get as many correct answers as you can, managing your time so that you grab all the questions you’ll do well on first, using the Mark and Review functions to get back to the questions you’re less likely to get right.
Questions about scoring? Ask them here and we’ll answer.
In our latest video addition to our YouTube channel, Lee Weiss, Kaplan’s Director of Graduate Programs, explains how the new GRE Multi-Stage Test, or MST, works. The test adapts at the section level in both the Verbal and Quantitative section. Each GRE section has 20 questions, and based on how many of those questions you answer correctly (and their difficulty level), you will be moved into one of three levels for your second section. The GRE is scored on a 130-170 scale in 1-point increments.
For more info on the New GRE, visit http://bit.ly/ss3Bph. If your GRE Test Taking skills need a boost, check out Kaplan’s GRE Advantage course, specifically designed to focus on essential tools for success on the GRE: http://bit.ly/KgiNir
Options aren’t always a good thing. When I buy shampoo, I spend agonizing minutes looking among the millions of bottles for some kind of normal, regular shampoo. But no. Nothing like that is ever there. All I see are endless rows of arcane admixtures infused with vegetables, tropical fruits, aloes, bear spit, and who knows what else. In principle, it’s great that I could wash my hair with coconuts if I wanted to. But the presence of all these options makes it impossible for me to get what I want, which is Boring Shampoo: The Plain Old Kind.
When you take the GRE, you’ll have the option to cancel your score. This might seem like a great option, but like the GRE calculator, it’s more of a trap than a benefit. The catch is that you have to decide whether to cancel your GRE score before you see it. Once you see your GRE score, you can’t cancel it; and if you cancel it, you’ll never know what it was. In this post, I’d like to tell you a short story and a long story about this score-canceling option.
The short story is: don’t cancel your GRE score. Period.
The long story is that there are many reasons why canceling your GRE score is a terrible idea. For one, the option appears at the end of a 4-hour exam that leaves you emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted — which is exactly when you DON’T want to make critical and irreversible life-altering decisions.
Another problem with the option is that the fundamental logic behind it doesn’t make sense. If the GRE went so terribly that you need to cancel your score…then how did you make it all the way to the end of the test? I like to joke with my GRE students that you should cancel your score if a stampeding hippopotamus crashes through the computer lab. Realistically, though, if a stampeding hippopotamus DID batter down the walls while you were taking the GRE, you’d run away screaming in terror. Or maybe you’d be like me, and heroically wrestle the hippo into submission. Either way, you wouldn’t finish the test. Just about any legitimate reason to cancel your score would stop you from seeing the score-canceling option in the first place.
The main reason many GRE students feel an urge to cancel their score is that the test “felt hard.” Or occasionally: “it felt REALLY hard.” And that’s NOT a good reason to cancel your score, no matter how many “reallys” you tack in front of the word “hard.” I’ll tell you a secret: I teach this thing for a living, and if I took it, I’d think the GRE was hard. That’s not because I’m bad at the GRE (I hope!), but because the GRE is a hard test. It’s long, it covers a wide intellectual area, and it adapts to your test-taking ability and throws you problems at the upper reaches of your skill level.
I’m not even surprised anymore when students send me post-day emails like, “I felt horrible and thought I bombed it…and then I got a higher score than any of my practice tests!” People are not good at judging their own GRE performance, which is why you need to undergo an epic catastrophe — “I fell ill and left half of two sections blank” — in order to justify a score cancellation.
So let’s wrap it up and return to that short story: don’t cancel your score. Period.