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What are the Best PA Programs That Don’t Require GRE?
Everything You Need to Know About These Schools

Jordan Coleman
Published by Jordan Coleman
Last Updated On: October 11, 2021

I’ve got a confession. The GRE is comprehensive, difficult, and requires lots of time. (Time that could be better used on, say, practicing PA.)

I’m not the only one who noticed this. Some PA schools did too, so they don’t require the GRE anymore.

But what schools—and are they worth applying to? Let’s find out.

PA Schools That Don’t Require GRE Do Exist

Students discussing beside a black board

More and more PA programs have been ditching the GRE from their requirements list in recent years.

In fact, as many as 153 PA schools currently don’t require the GRE[1].

These schools actually tend to be more competitive than the programs that still require the GRE. But more on that in a moment.

Let’s first go through our list of PA programs that have no GRE requirements.

Students’ List: 20+ PA Schools That Don’t Require GRE

Is there any place where you can continue your physician assistant studies without taking the dreadful “standardized test”? Well, yes you can.

Here’s a list of 20+ such PA schools in the United States. Not one requires you to take the GRE:

Physician Assistant Programs
AT Still University PA program
Augsburg University PA program
Bay Path University PA program
California State University - Monterey Bay
Colorado Mesa University
Concordia University - Ann Arbor
Concordia University of Wisconsin
Drexel University
Duquesne University
Eastern Virginia Medical School
Franklin Pierce University
Mercy College
Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences
Miami-Dade College
New York Institute of Technology
Oregon Health & Science University Physician Assistant Program
Pacific University Physician Assistant Program
Sacred Heart University
Sullivan University
The CUNY School of Medicine
University of Bridgeport
Westfield State University

How Does a PA School Decide If You’re a Good Candidate Without the GRE?

A professor reading all exam papers, students huddled up

What does a PA school use to assess your abilities if you don’t submit your GRE scores?

They’ll use the following factors:

1. Science GPA

Your science grade point average is the average grade you got in medical-related classes (biology, chemistry, physics…).

How to calculate it: Add the grade points from your all medical-related classes. Divide the total number of grade points by the number of classes.

2. CGPA

Your cumulative GPA, or CGPA, is your average grade during your entire academic program (like high school).

How to calculate it: Add the credit hours and grade points for all semesters. Divide the total number of grade points by the credit hours.

3. Healthcare experience

Most schools are interested in your clinical experience only. This tells them you’ve worked under supervision and handled patients.

4. Research, volunteering, and work

Showcase your work or research done in the medical and healthcare field. This could help you compensate for your lack of clinical experience and demonstrate that you do understand the role of a physician assistant.

5. Personal statement

Your personal statement is an essay in which you try to convince schools that you have what it takes to be a physician assistant. You’ll have to submit it through CASPA or during your interview.

List all your wonderful personality traits and explain why you care about your admission.

Which Exams Should You Take to Get into PA School?

Close up image of a male student taking GRE to get into a PA school

It depends. Some PA programs, like the ones above, don’t require GRE or any other entrance exam.

Others will require you to take either:

  • GRE
  • MCAT
  • PA-CAT - a recently-developed, specialized test for physician assistants that PA programs started to administer in spring 2020

For now, no school requires you to take the MCAT or PA-CAT explicitly but offer them as alternatives to the GRE.

Is Applying to PA Schools That Don’t Require the GRE Worth It?

Or, in other words: are PA schools that don’t require the GRE any good?

Short answer: yes. In fact, 47% of the top 260 PA schools in the United States don’t require the GRE or require GRE anymore. [2]

Longer answer: yes, but these PA programs tend to be more competitive.

You’re not the only applicant who will want to dodge the GRE. There’s plenty of others that want to earn their degree, but not have to go through the torture they think the GRE is.

This makes schools that don’t require the GRE harder to get in simply because you’ll have more competitors.

Not taking the GRE also means that you’ll be assessed based on your overall academic performance, relevant work and research done, and other factors that we discussed above.

Should You Take the GRE—even if it isn’t required by any of your programs?

You should take the GRE if you’re in one of the following scenarios:

  • You have a below-average application. The GRE is a standardized test, so you’ll get the same questions as everyone else. A high score could help you stand out from other applicants.
  • Your graduate school recommends the GRE. If it comes down to you and a few similar applicants, the committee may use the GRE as a way to eliminate candidates.

3 Tips to Boost Your Chances of Getting Accepted by the Programs When You’re Not Taking the GRE

A man studying inside a library

Most physician assistant programs are competitive. If you don’t believe me, here’s one piece of data that might convince you:

Out of 27,283 people who applied to PA school (2019/2020), only 8,802 were accepted. That means as many as 69% of all applicants were not accepted.

To ensure your application process goes smoothly (Lord knows you don’t need one more thing to worry about), follow our best tips for PA admissions.

1. Don’t get stuck on clinical experience: there’s more to being a physician assistant

In case you lack clinical experience, list other situations where you had to provide care.

Instances like providing first aid, taking care of a family member or close relation, or getting medical training without employment could all help you get into PA school.

2. Write a persuasive statement

Convince them you have the skills, knowledge, and personality needed for the role. A good rule to stick to here is show, don’t tell. Instead of telling the committee how caring you are, tell a story that demonstrates this.

3. Apply early, here’s why

Let’s jump to why straight on:

“Admissions at most P.A. schools are rolling. “Rolling admissions” means that a school will evaluate, interview, and admit applicants throughout the cycle (...) That means that those who apply earlier in the cycle are typically at an advantage, and sometimes a significant advantage because interview spots can fill up on the earlier side and as those spots become fewer, the remaining spots can be more competitive to get.”

- Dr. Carleen Eaton, founder of Prehealthadvising Admissions Consulting[2]

The Bottom Line

If you’re after a degree in physician assistant studies, don’t risk your chances. These are highly competitive programs.

PA schools that don’t require the GRE but encourage students to submit their GRE scores usually use them to compare similar applications.

In recent years, though, we’ve seen a trend in programs not caring about the GRE at all. Schools are growing disinterested in standardized testing. Instead, they put emphasis on your experience and personality—something you could use to your advantage.

References:

  1. https://www.paschoolfinder.com/cat/gre-not-required/?count=10&orderby=title&order=ASC
  2. https://www.thepalife.com/80-pa-schools-that-dont-require-the-gre/

About the author

Jordan Coleman

Jordan Coleman

Jordan is a teacher who is in love with English literature and quality content. He uses his teaching experience to help both his own students and others around the world to improve their knowledge and self-confidence.

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