Home Forums Graduate School GRE The usefulness of the GRE in STEM doctoral admissions

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    Hello everyone!

    We just wanted to alert you to a new study that questions the usefulness of the GRE in STEM Ph.D. admissions. Despite the fact that men did better on the GRE quant section (GRE Q) than women, a representative sample from four top universities did not find any difference in STEM Ph.D. completion rates or times. Quite surprisingly, the study (linked above) found a negative relationship between GRE Q scores and completion rates.

    David Payne, the COO of ETS, the company that publishes the ETS stated, “The GRE test does not predict graduate or doctoral completion rates. It was never intended to do this. Rather, the test provides a measure of graduate school readiness by assessing skills that are necessary to handle graduate-level work: verbal and quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing. Investing more money in research that proves the same point over and over is wasteful when there is so much need in the graduate community for research that: identifies what characteristics are correlated with completion; develops more inclusive admissions processes that will help to identify which applicants have the academic skills as well as the personal attributes to be successful; and creates programs that will support students in their chosen programs.”

    ETS itself has stated its opposition to strict cutoff scores and perhaps this is a case where even the lower GRE Q applicants were more than prepared to handle the rigors of the STEM Ph.D. programs they were targeting.

    Best of luck with your applications!


    David Petersam
    AdmissionsConsultants, Inc.


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    So all the applicants were qualified? Is that what ETS is saying? If so, why do they need to take the GRE?

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