Mastering the GRE

GRE for Social Work Masters Blog Header
GRE for Social Work Masters Blog Header

Mastering the GRE

Once you've made the decision to pursue a career in social services, earning an advanced degree can help you further your career aspirations. While a bachelor's degree prepares you for the role of a generalist, a Master of Social Work degree is designed to prepare you for specialist and advanced roles. Whether you're nearing completion of your bachelor's degree or have been working in the field for a few years, earning your MSW is a commitment that you should not take lightly.

The first step in earning your online MSW at FSU is to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). The GRE is a standardized test that measures skills developed over the course of your academic career, but not related to a specific field of study. It is administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS), which is a nonprofit private educational testing and measurement organization.

Why FSU requires the GRE

Studies have found that the combination of grades plus test scores is a more effective predictor of a student's readiness than either one alone. Considering GRE scores allows the admissions committee to make an apples to apples comparison of students who earned their degrees at different universities, or who have been in the workforce for a while.

An admissions office only has so much to go on: a transcript, a GRE score, and letters of recommendation. While we do not have a minimum required score for the GRE, please give your best effort, as your score is considered in the review of your file.

What happens when you take the GRE

The general test includes assessments in verbal, math, critical thinking and writing skills. The ETS website describes the three areas as follows:

Verbal Reasoning — Measures your ability to analyze and evaluate written material and synthesize information obtained from it, analyze relationships among component parts of sentences and recognize relationships among words and concepts.

Quantitative Reasoning — Measures problem-solving ability using basic concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis.

Analytical Writing — Measures critical thinking and analytical writing skills; it is comprised of two essays – one examining and issue and one about an argument. It measures your ability to communicate complex ideas in a concise and effective way, evaluate claims and evidence, and support ideas using logical reasoning.

Resources to help you prepare for the GRE

While the GRE measures non-career specific abilities learned over time, there are ways to prepare to take the test. Be advised, some of the preparation courses can be a sizeable investment. Kaplan, Princeton Review, TestMasters, and other organizations - along with private tutors - offer courses, but can cost more than $1,000.

ETS offers a variety of free and low-cost tools to help you prepare for the GRE® General Test. You can also do an online search to see if there are any organizations in your area offering low-cost programs to help prepare students for the GRE.

You may want to take a sample test first to determine if you want to take on the expense of a GRE prep course. You can find practice tests on the ETS website.

Putting your best foot forward

The online MSW program admission committee considers all of the required areas of the admission process. It is essential to provide them with the best possible picture of yourself as a student and a professional. If you are a current student and know you want to earn your online MSW, focus on achieving the highest grades possible during your junior and senior years, as your grades from the final two years of your bachelor’s program are weighted. A personal statement is also imperative and extremely important not only to the admissions committee but also in presenting who you are as an individual as well as a student.