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I heard from some sources that some applications are discarded before the professors in the committee even looked at it, based on GPA. How true is this? How do they equalize GPAs from different colleges across the world? Isn't this practice flawed?

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    The question of "How true is this?" is addressed by this answer. The question of how they consider differences in GPA between universities is addressed in How do graduate schools evaluate GPA? and How are GPAs from different universities evaluated for admissions to MS programs in the USA? – ff524 May 30 '16 at 4:34
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    As usual, the answer depends on country, institution etc. My university, for instance, requires a minimum GPA and this list gives the minimum GPA required by country of origin of the applicant (the requirements are actually not too severe: e.g., 2.3 for the US). If that requirement is not met, I'm sure that the application won't even reach the selection committee. – Massimo Ortolano May 30 '16 at 9:45
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    There are two possibilities here, and it's impossible to tell which is the actual case. (1) the people discarding the applications have a good idea of what typical grades are like at a lot of schools, and discard applications with low GPAs for their schools; anything they don't know how to deal with they leave in. (2) the people discarding the applications have a completely bureaucratic set of rules that throws out a lot of good students. – Peter Shor May 30 '16 at 19:13