Unlike other standardized admissions tests (such as the SAT , LSAT , and MCAT ), the use and weight of GRE scores vary considerably not only from school to school, but from department to department, and from program to program.  As an example, most business schools and economics programs require very high GRE or GMAT scores for entry, while engineering programs are known to allow more score variation. Programs in liberal arts topics may only consider the applicant's verbal score to be of interest, while mathematics and science programs may only consider quantitative ability. Admission to graduate schools depends on a complex mix of several different factors.  Schools see letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, GPA, GRE score etc. Some schools use the GRE in admissions decisions, but not in funding decisions; others use the GRE for the selection of scholarship and fellowship candidates, but not for admissions. In some cases, the GRE may be a general requirement for graduate admissions imposed by the university, while particular departments may not consider the scores at all.  Graduate schools will typically provide information about how the GRE is considered in admissions and funding decisions, and the average scores of previously admitted students. In some cases programs have hard cut off requirements for the GRE, such as the Yale Economics PhD program which requires a minimum quantitative score of 160 to apply.  The best way to find out how a particular school or program evaluates a GRE score in the admissions process is to contact the person in charge of graduate admissions for the specific program in question.
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Try this sample GRE Issue Essay prompt for practice. Remember that you’ll have 30 minutes to complete it on GRE Test Day. There are various questions you might be asked to answer on the Issue Essay, so it's best to practice a few different prompts.