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
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.
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|
|Eastern Virginia Medical School|
|Franklin Pierce University|
|Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences|
|New York Institute of Technology|
|Oregon Health & Science University Physician Assistant Program|
|Pacific University Physician Assistant Program|
|Sacred Heart 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?
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.
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?
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:
- 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. 
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
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
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.