Why you should shortlist universities BEFORE GRE

The number of students going abroad for higher studies shows no signs of slowing down since the last decade.

According to a UNESCO report, in the academic year 2012, the number of Indians pursuing their higher studies abroad was 189,472. From then on the journey has been nothing short of miraculous.

The numbers speak for themselves, and it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that one out of five international students pursuing higher studies abroad is an Indian!

Every year students and working professionals flock to North America and European Universities with dreams in their eyes and hope in their hearts of making it big.

Spoiled by choices, there are many students who end with a university or a course that is not a perfect fit for him/her and later on regret it. This is where smart university shortlisting comes in!

University shortlisting is a very important procedure as it decides which university you’ll get into hence shaping up your future prospects and opportunities.

Generally, higher education aspirants begin the university shortlisting process only after they are done with GRE.
But what if I tell you that you can and probably should shortlist universities before taking your GRE and it actually is beneficial to your admission process?

Before we get into the importance of an early shortlisting process, you must definitely familiarise yourself with the three categories that we sort universities into.

Broadly speaking there are 3 categories:


These universities are those that are very much within your reach. This means that your GRE score is sufficient and you have a more than a definite chance of getting admissions into these universities. If you want a tension-free admission process, you must aim for this category. 


These are the universities for which you might have to stretch out of your comfort zone.
The required GRE score and other requisites might be a little outside your range but you still have a good chance of getting into the university. However, you must write a very convincing SOP and have sufficient LORs for you to get into this category.


As the name suggests, these universities require you to have a GRE score that is well beyond the score you have obtained. Generally, it is accepted that if your profile satisfies 50-70% of the minimum requirements, it is an ‘ambitious’ admit. But don’t lose heart! You can get into an ambitious university if you have a good academic profile to back up your GRE score. Also, your SOP must convince the admission officers that you are a right fit for them.

It is always wise to apply to universities from all three categories as you never know what clicks. 

[Read: From 6 backlogs to an Ivy League Admit – Shantanu Kumar’s GRE Journey]

Why waste the time you have between now and your GRE date? 

Let me explain with an example.

Example Profile

Profile Safe Moderate Ambitious
  • GPA: 6.9
  • Topper’s GPA: 8.5
  • GRE Score: 315
  • TOEFL Score: 103
  • No Research Experience
  • Worked for 3 years at TCS.
  • University of North Carolina
  • University of South Florida
  • The University of Texas, Arlington
  • The University of Texas, Dallas
  • The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Texas A & M University

 Arizona State University

The University of Iowa

Carnegie Mellon University

Why shortlist before GRE?

Now that the idea and the definition of 3 categories into which a university can be shortlisted into, has been clarified we’ll move into the advantages of shortlisting prior to your GRE.
Are you ready? You might want to take notes.

You can send your GRE scores for free!

Yes, you read that right. You can send your GRE scores for free right after your test to ANY four universities of your choice. This process is covered under the fees you’ve paid to ETS to take the GRE. 

You can have a proper target GRE score in mind and prepare accordingly

You might already have a target GRE score in mind, that might be based upon your diagnostic test score and how much you can (need) to improve.

But if you complete your shortlisting process before taking your GRE, you will be aware of the GRE score required to get into the university of your choice.

A clear end goal will help you in preparing accordingly.

Choosing universities to send the GRE scores too wouldn’t be random

Finishing the shortlisting process earlier helps you can select universities you want to get into based on factual data rather than hearsay.

AdmitEDGE Pro Tip: The overall university ranking is not everything, you should rather concentrate on the ranking of the particular department or stream that you wish to pursue. Remember, the course you seek should determine the university you want to get into, not the ranking itself.

Knowing university codes beforehand

When you send the application to an application by post, you need to mention the university code along with a lot of other important details. Now, during the hassle of application and admission process, there are chances that you may mess up the university codes!

So, if you complete the shortlisting process beforehand you will have a better knowledge about the codes and rather have them at your disposal anytime you need to use them.

Save time later on by doing quality background research

University shortlisting takes such a tremendous amount of time because you are required to do an extensive background research about the university you’re aiming for.

Completing a bulk of the selection process well before your GRE allows you enough time to finalize your target universities. Prevent the hair splitting sessions that are a commonplace during the application process!

Leaves enough time to focus on more important things

Having completed the majority of the grunt work, all that is left to do is analyze the data. You now have enough time on your hands to focus on more important aspects of your profile. You should use this time to write a persuasive SOP.

[Read: 9 Tips to Draft a Winning SOP]

Why waste the time you have between now and your GRE date? 

Enough time to improve your profile based on university requirements

Whether you’re in college or you’re a working professional, shortlisting universities beforehand helps you improve your profile.

Remember the ambitious universities we discussed earlier? They can be within reach!

You can work exclusively to spruce up your admission profile for your target universities, strengthening your chances of an admit.

What should you consider while shortlisting universities?

Apart from the QS ranking, you must consider:

  1. Ranking of the department you want admission in
  2. Quality of student and the alumni pool
  3. Jobs and career opportunities after completion of MS
  4. Faculty expertise and quality
  5. R&D opportunity and infrastructure
  6. Tuition Fees along with boarding and lodging and
  7. Research/Teaching Assistantships (or any other form of financial aid) offered

What you should know to evaluate your profile for admission! Download the free eBook for Fall ’17.

Why waste the time you have between now and your GRE date? 

Make the best of it and shortlist universities way ahead of time!

Comment and let us know what you think of this article!

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5 Responses

  1. vijalakshmi says:

    Thankyou for the informations

    • Shruti Ganesh says:

      Hi Vijaylakshmi,

      Thank you for giving us your feedback! I’m glad you found it useful. 🙂

      Best Wishes with your MS Dreams!

  2. vijayalakshmi says:

    this is very useful for me

  3. Suhas says:

    can you help in suggesting the universities in can apply for Computers in Spring 2017

    GRE : 293
    TOEFL: 92
    BE : 66

  4. pardeep says:


    My brother is planning to attend Mechanical Engineering at UT, Arlington for MS. Please guide me about the job/placement scenario.

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