When the University of Michigan decided to stop asking applicants to submit scores for the GRE general test, it was an outlier. The standardized exam was a requirement for most PhD programs in the U.S. The Michigan program is now part of a larger group. According to an investigation by Science, the GRE scores are no longer required for most of the programs in the field of science.
Concerns about whether the test puts students from less privileged background at a disadvantage and doubts about how well GRE scores predict graduate school success all helped drive the changes. Whether they will be permanent or not remains to be seen.
Science looked at the application requirements for the 50 top-ranked U.S. universities. Only 3% of prospective students are required to submit GRE test scores. Prospective students should submit scores. A strong GRE score submitted with your application can improve your chances. Almost all of the programs explicitly state that GRE scores won't be accepted or reviewed.
The life sciences were the focus of the movement early on. Every discipline is affected by the shift away from the GRE. Sarah Ledford, an assistant professor in thegeosciences at Georgia State University, maintains a list of earth sciences programs that don't require GRE scores. Geology was the only discipline that required the GRE in all departments.
Ledford attributes a lot of the shift to a change in society. She and other scientists argue that the cost of the test deters students from applying to graduate school because of it's high price. Concerns about whether some students had access to a suitable testing environment was one of the reasons for dropping the test requirement. It was low-hanging fruit for places to give it a try.
Research shows the GRE doesn't predict whether a student will succeed in graduate school According to an assistant professor of social work at Boston University who has studied the use of GRE scores in psychology, the data has to be relevant. The GRE doesn't predict anything beyond grades. She says that the test privileges certain groups.
Some people aren't sold on the transition. Sang Eun Woo is a professor of psychology at Purdue University. Woo doesn't think test scores should be used to rank prospective students, an approach that has been used in the past. She and others think that the GRE can be useful in aholistic review, along with qualitative elements such as recommendation letters, personal statements, and CVs. The test isn't the only thing graduate programs should care about. More information is better than less information and that's what this is about.
The company that runs the GRE says that removing test scores from consideration could hurt students. Many students from underprivileged background don't have the advantage of attending prestigious programs or taking on internship, so using their GRE scores serves as a way to supplement their application, making them more competitive compared to their peers."
Danny Caballero is an associate professor of physics education at Michigan State University who has studied graduate admissions in physics. That is a difficult thing to do. He supports the use of rubrics that ask reviewers to evaluate prospective studentsholistic, based on their academic preparation, research track record, initiative and perseverance, and fit with the program. GRE scores were included in the rubric, but when the program changed to make the GRE optional, they were no longer included. He doesn't have anything to regret. Science does not take standardized tests. He says that science is being curious.
The geological sciences graduate program at Cornell University decided to switch to a rubric-basedholistic review shortly before announcing it would no longer accept GRE scores in 2020. The graduate director says the program has no plans to restore the GRE. He says that it takes no more time to learn the system. The shift could result in more diverse applicants. It's too early to tell because there's so much variability in the demographic of applicants The quality is as strong as ever because we have more applicants and more diverse ones.
The new admission requirements will be difficult to overturn in the long run. This is something that students look for in a school, according to Ledford. They are not interested in taking the test.
When he worked in graduate admissions at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Joshua Hall was an early advocate for dropping the GRE. Hall is a program officer at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. No one has said that they are going to return.
That might not be the case in other disciplines. After waiving the requirement for the GRE in 2020 and 2021, the computer science program at the college is back to requiring it. A similar change was made earlier this year. The requirement was lifted again. The graduate director of the program wrote in an email that the whole thing was in a state of change.