While prospective undergraduates take the SATs, future graduate students endure the GRE. This standardized test has been in circulation for decades, providing hopeful master’s students the key to acceptance, deferral or rejection to their dream programs. Although this four-hour evaluation of communication, reading comprehension and quantitative skills was one of the main requirements for graduate schools, its prevalence in academia is gradually declining. While some grad schools have pulled the GRE from their list of requirements for admission in recent years, we’ve seen a greater number of programs withdraw the necessity this year than ever before.
Why grad schools are nixing the standardized test requirement
While many students enjoy a sigh of relief that they may not have to endure the grueling studying and test-taking activity involved in excelling at this test, graduate schools aren’t taking the student preference of going test-free into consideration. Instead, many programs have decided to eliminate this from their list of requirements because they do not see a noteworthy correlation between GRE scores and students’ ability to succeed in graduate school.
PrepScholar, a resource for students studying for the GRE, compiled a list of master’s and Ph.D. programs that no longer require the GRE. Many programs have joined what many professionals in academia call GRExit, in subjects varying from Business Administration and Education to Engineering. Joshua Hall, director of graduate admissions at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, also compiled a list of life science programs that dropped the GRE requirement.
Once some schools began to drop the GRE requirement, others with similar programs began to follow suit. Many universities that made the decision to cut this necessity from their application did so because they feared that students would be deterred from considering their program when there were other universities of a similar standing that did not require them to take this pricey exam. Other programs considered the history of the GRE, in which certain demographics outperformed others on a large scale; for instance, those of high socioeconomic standing can afford tutors and prep courses to prepare for the GRE, while low-income prospective students do not have the resources to gain this assistance. This opportunity gap, which is prevalent in many areas of the higher education system, produces a major argument against the requirement of this standardized test.
Pushback from GRE supporters
Even though GRExit is gathering momentum, there are plenty of graduate admissions officers that support the continued use of the GRE in evaluating graduate candidates. When it comes to defending the validity of this examination, convenience is the primary focus. For admissions officers who are viewing thousands of applications for a limited number of seats, taking a look at GRE scores is a much faster way to filter out certain candidates rather than combing through every single candidate’s transcripts, reference letters, statements of purpose and other application components.
Though many programs are still looking into the benefits of removing the GRE from their admissions requirements, it is evident that the GRE will not disappear overnight. Prospective students should not limit their graduate school search to programs that do not require this standardized test. However, those whose GRE scores are below average might take particular interest in programs that do not regard these marks.