Should GRE be Mandatory for Admissions?

Should GRE be Mandatory for Admissions?

I have due reverence for Dr. Atta Rehman. I understand he wanted to contribute something to the higher education in Pakistan. However, it is often felt that the policies that his created “think tanks” in HEC had designed were premature or rather rash.



Let me put this the other way round: they somehow completely eclipsed the legitimate “time factor”. The aims were over-night results that were rather misleading. They imported foreign tools from the developed countries and imposed them on the poor locals calling it “development”, as if “the tools” were more like wagging magic wands for miracles.



For instance, the criterion of indigenous GRE score for entry into Mphil, PhD programs in oriental languages such as Persian, Urdu, and Arabic, etc. needed (and still needs) immediate consideration. GRE includes English verbal and analytical and Math questions, which most of the candidates find hard and irrelevant.



Supporters may argue that American universities have made GRE score mandatory for getting into a graduate school. Since the U.S universities are our benchmarks, so we got to blindly follow them; so to “develop” the “standard” of education in Pakistan. Let it not be delusional, Pakistan is Pakistan. Our universities are not U.S universities and our students are Pakistani students. We got to think within our own context. They might counter argue that graduate research requires “analytical thinking ability’ and “English skills”; fine, we accept
that: it makes some sense for “Science disciplines” but in oriental language programs at this stage, it is rather too rash.



Another point worth considering is : Is GRE score “the secrete” of “development”? How many universities in Europe require GRE for entry into graduate programs? I don’t understand why HEC is in such a hurry to “develop” the “standard” of education in Pakistan by ignoring the span of time it actually takes to for any substantial development to take place.

HEC think tanks! We know you got money but you surely can’t correct the system at once. HEC must invest in researchers: to fund them for research such as travel grants, stipends, internet access and research material etc.


I have seen the dilapidated condition of Persian department at Peshawar University. This year they could hardly take six students in M.A Persian program, the reason being Persian seems less enterprising for students these days. Similarly, a very limited number of MPhil and PhD candidates apply to Mphil/PhD programs. The Mphil/PhD students are required to write their final dissertation in Persian language.


Let’s speak for justice sake, if you impose Math and English loaded GRE test for getting into PhD Persian program, how many candidates will apply to an already stumbling program which has been ignored. Is HEC for encouraging the research or wiping it out?


Zaheer Iqbal

A language graduate and contributor for The News/Geo blogs

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  • Mazhar

    Agree, if U.S. universities are following it, does not mean that we should follow it blindly considering the fundamental education system we have as compared to U.S. The basic education at primary and secondary level plays key role in order to perform well in GRE test, because the abilities that are developed at basic level in a student is tested in it. So, we should focus more on our primary and secondary systems.

  • Muhammad Noman Saeed

    Absolutely right.
    In addition i am not in favor to put NTS for admission in MS program etc.
    or we should accept that our Undergraduate is so worst that we need such testing which moving around English, Analytical, Qualitative, Maths etc ..

  • DM

    I would appreciate your consideration for the non-science disciplines’ standards.

    The objection on Math content is liable to attention but brother, English … is a must. When you write reserach papers for international reputed journals, you need to have an excellent knowledge of English; this cannot be avoided.

  • Muhammad Imran

    In my view i think English is important to be implemented. But Math is total irrelevant for such subjects.

    But then again English is implemented in its wrong form. I mean to say that The tests contain words that we haven’t even heard from even a European person. The English that is implemented into it should be put to basic level i.e a level which is needed for communication with international people. If a person can pass a basic level English test then he should be allowed a green chit. Because having studied in Schools, College, university and having seen newspapers, Television and so many other things a student must and should be able to understand, speak and write basic level of English. If not then one must doubt his abilities(ignorance or incompetence) for higher studies.

    As for Maths its entirely irrelevant for such subjects.

  • M.Saeed

    This is a complete non-sense blog!

    You cannot make rules for all subjects based upon just Urdu or Persian. Let there be no GRE criteria for those interested in pursuing higher education in those languages but, for heaven’s sake, let other fields of education be made universally compatible and acceptable at all avenues. The world is now a global village and one has to follow its needs of contemporary means and measures.

  • zahoor

    Dear Writer, I am totally agree with the idea of GRE for Mphil if you decode the name of Mphil, It is Master of philosophy. One should pass the GRE to get into the Mphil degree, and there is no difference between Pakistani and US universities and soon your universities will be among world top ranked universities.

  • saad tariq

    good one

  • Shakir

    This article is totally out of sense. GRE is a generic test that only assess basics skills in English, Math and analytic reasoning. Mathematics is more of a common sense rather than formulas etc. English is a global language these days and without it education is incomplete specially now the world being a global village. Analytic reasoning is more to assess the intellectual caliber of a candidate whether has the skills to make sound judgments based upon rationale. I have given GRE and I believe it must be mandatory for all discipline be it languages or whatever. Without getting through GRE I would doubt the caliber of a candidate even if he/she is doing PhD in languages.

  • Farhan

    Please read the research behind GRE by ETS. GRE is all logical and not about English and Math. Its about thinking logically. And research proves that higher score in GRE correlate with higher chances of successfully completing the degree. Universities invest a lot of time and money into a prospective researcher and do not want to bet on the wrong horse. No test can be perfect but higher GRE score shows that person has better critical thinking abilities

  • Anonymous

    agree with the blogger to some extent. The point is: we copy and paste things without context…We as a nation are looking for best practices around the world and then implement it in our country without even thinking of tailoring those practices to our needs…

  • Mujahid Abbas

    Pakistan does not need more graduates, masters and phd. With the kind of problems this country faces we need better public schools and madrassas. HEC has a history of forcing American system on Pakistani university without consultations and without regard to the dismal state of Pakistani public schooling. Things like GPA, 4 years bachelors degrees, MS, tenure track system, semester systems etc are all American ideas. We should not fool ourselves. Pakistani universities suck. our public schools can only produce donkeys — Now there will be ONE smartass who would start naming the handful of success stories that have come out of government schools and the serious discussion will go down the drain!


    “Let it not be delusional, Pakistan is Pakistan. Our universities are not
    U.S universities and our students are Pakistani students.”

    This is pretty self-demeaning. What is so great about US liberal arts universities that is not so great about Pakistani ones.


    Among the foreign students on US campuses — Pakistani students are considered best in spoken and written English. They pass TOEFL with flying colors.

    • S Nasrullah

      Mr NASAH: I totally and entirely Agree with your statement. My own frequent interactions with the Pakistani students in Harvard and MIT reinforce the perception.

      • Farooq Hashmi

        What a happy surprise! Mr.S.Nasrullah and Dr.NASAH have deviated from their traditional way of wrangling and are at one with each other in the present case.I see eye to eye with them that Pakistani students ,vying for admission into the top-notch schools USA and G.Britain, outmatch the other international students,both in spoken and written English. However, strongly prejudiced the other international students maybe, the fact remains unchanged that Pakistani students are more assimilative of the modern English words and more dictionary-oriented. hence, they go through TOEFL easily.

  • The problem lies with those whoo loot Pakistan. In the world today the not so rich countries spend little on experiments or research. The reason is clear and simple. Take Japan,China, Korea, Malaysia, Brazil, South Africa, even India, all of them did not have to invent anything to progress but took advantage of what had been developped by US,UK,Germany and other developped countries. HEC etc and especially those robbers of Pakistans wealth have not had the will to do ought. Had they had even one bit of honesty, they would have taken the good things from elsewhere and installed them in Pakistan in accordance with what we needed and modify they way these would be most benefitial to us. Dr. Rehman s hands heve been tied by those in power else he has certainly worked wonders whenever and where ever he could.
    How can you blame Dr. Rehman?
    May be you also need to blame the parents and other population who allow such travest to carry on right within themselves. Enough said.

  • Shahid ANjum

    I agree with Farhan, GRE is assessment of person who have the quality of understand the things and express his/her point of view. What so ever the discipline in MS/PhD,, One have to reach and analyse the material. If a person is unaware with basis English/Mathematics, which was studies in early school time, can he do some thing in MS/PhD?