Tests Required for PhD Abroad – GRE, GMAT, IELTS & TOEFL

by Ph.D. Admissions Team of Road to Abroad

Tests Required for PhD Abroad

Tests Required for PhD Abroad: Many PhD programs abroad ask PhD applicants to submit different test scores. These can be divided in to two categories: (1) Tests to determine academic preparedness [GRE & GMAT], and (2) Tests to check English language abilities [IELTS & TOEFL]. These tests help the graduate schools confirm that you have sufficient subject-related knowledge, critical thinking and logical reasoning aptitude and necessary proficiency in the English language to complete your doctorate. In this blog, we have discussed these tests in details from the perspective of PhD applications.

GRE for PhD

The GRE® General Test and GRE® Subject Tests were designed to achieve a specific intended purpose that adds value to the admissions decision-making process. GRE scores are most commonly required for PhD programs in the USA and Canada, but owing to COVID-19 pandemic many universities are offering GRE waivers. Australia and European countries like UK and Germany usually do not ask to submit GRE scores. This requirement also varies from university to university and subject to subject. However, it is always best to check the requirements on the PhD program page before deciding to appear for the GRE test.

GRE General Test (3 hour 45 minutes)

The GRE General Test measures skills that graduate and professional schools, including business and law, have identified as necessary for academic success: verbal reasoning (score scale: 130-170), quantitative reasoning (score scale: 130-170), critical thinking and analytical writing (score scale: 0-6). Institutions receive separate scores for each of the test’s three sections, which allows graduate programs to place greater weight on some skills than others, if desired. Scores identify which potential students are likely to struggle academically in a particular skill, which can help programs prepare to offer extra support to help those students be successful.

GRE Subject Tests

The GRE Subject Tests measure achievement in a particular field of study and help departments evaluate applicants’ readiness for graduate school. Some GRE Subject Tests also yield sub-scores that provide additional information about strengths and weaknesses, which can be useful for guidance and placement purposes. Some of the available subjects are Chemistry, Maths, Physics, and Psychology.

What GRE score do I need for a PhD?

Graduate Schools usually do not specify a particular score or a cut-off score for GRE test. Some programs will tell you to score as high as possible, whereas others will share the average GRE score of the previous batch so that applicants know what score they should aim for.

Also Read: Things to Consider While Planning a PhD Abroad

GMAT for PhD

The Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, is an important part of the business school application process. The GMAT is a multiple-choice, computer-based and computer-adaptive standardized exam that is often required for admission to graduate business programs (MBA & PhD) globally. The GMAT is a business school entrance exam that lasts nearly 3 1/2 hours, and includes the following four components:

  • An analytical writing assessment (30 minutes / 1 question), which measures critical thinking and communication skills.
  • An integrated reasoning section (30 minutes / 12 questions), which shows how well students can analyze data and interpret information displayed in varied formats.
  • A quantitative reasoning section (62 minutes / 31 questions), which determines whether students have strong mathematical abilities and numerical literacy.
  • A verbal reasoning section (65 minutes / 32 questions), which evaluates reading comprehension skills, editing abilities and whether someone can make sense of written arguments.

GMAT scores are most commonly required for PhD programs in the USA and Canada, but owing to COVID-19 pandemic many universities are offering GMAT waivers. Australia and European countries like UK and Germany usually do not ask to submit GMAT scores. This requirement also varies from university to university and subject to subject. However, it is always best to check the requirements on the PhD program page before deciding to appear for the GMAT test.

What GMAT score do I need for a PhD?

Graduate Schools usually do not specify a particular score or a cut-off score for GMAT test. Some programs will tell you to score as high as possible, whereas others will share the average GMAT score of the previous batch so that applicants know what score they should aim for. The majority of candidates score between 400 and 600. If you want to apply for a PhD in Business at a top business school, you’ll probably find that the average GMAT score will be over 700. You can use the following data to see the relationship between scaled scores and the test-takers achieving them:

  • Top 10% of all test takers – 710
  • Top 25% of all test takers – 650
  • Top 50% of all test takers – 580
  • Below 50th percentile of all test takers – 570

Also Read: Eligibility Criteria for PhD Abroad

English Language Tests for PhD

If English is not your native-language, then it is likely that you will need to provide English language test scores to the graduate school. The two most widely accepted tests are IELTS and TOEFL. Please note that if you completed Masters or Bachelors in one of the following English-speaking countries, you may be exempted from providing English language test scores:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Ireland
  • New Zealand
  • UK
  • USA

This list is not comprehensive as many universities accept degrees from other nations like Caribbean countries, Singapore, etc for this exemption.

IELTS & TOEFL

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is designed to help you work, study or migrate to a country where English is the native language. Your ability to listen, read, write and speak in English will be assessed during the test. IELTS is graded on a scale of 1-9.  For applying to PhD programs, you should appear for IELTS Academic and NOT General Training. If you need help in preparing for IELTS test, check out our online IELTS preparation portal.

Similar to the IELTS test, there are four sections in the TOEFL test which assess your listening, reading, writing and speaking skills. The most popular form of TOEFL is TOEFL iBT (internet based test) even though a paper-delivered option is also available. In both cases, you will have to book the test and go an authorised test centre to complete the test.

What IELTS and TOEFL score do I need for a PhD?

You have to take one of the two tests. TOEFL is more popular in US whereas for all other countries students usually choose IELTS. Having said that, IELTS is also accepted at US universities and there will be no problem if your choose to give IELTS test for US PhD Programs. As far as minimum score is required, it varies from university to university and program to program. So, it is always a good idea to check the requirements of the program you are planning to apply to.

The minimum IELTS score for a PhD is usually 6.5, with at least 6.0 in each section of the exam. However, many programs may require a minimum score of 7.0 or 7.5. The minimum TOEFL iBT score for PhD programs is normally 90, but it can be as high as 100-105 for some programs.

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Asha Nagpal

Hi Sir, what is the minimum score I need in IELTS for PhD positions in USA?

Vansh kashyap
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Vansh kashyap

Hi Sir, I want to apply in Canada. Should I take IELTS or TOEFL? And do I need GRE or GMAT

Ahmed ahmed
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Ahmed ahmed

Can I apply in USA without GMAT or GRE?

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