As a graduating senior I have begun the process of preparing for graduate school. This includes a writing sample, personal statement, statement of purpose and last but certainly not least, the General Record Exam popularly known as the GRE.
I consider myself to be a bright and intelligent woman. However, the GRE test prep has proven to be difficult. There is an expectation to know math from 7th-10th grade along with vocabulary that most people do not use on a regular basis. The composition of the GRE is a written essay, a verbal multiple choice section and a multiple choice section of math. I am expected to know things that I do not use in my everyday life to help determine if I am good enough for the graduate programs I am applying too.
What is graduate school measuring with the GRE scores? Does the GRE give advantages to some groups over others? If students are never introduced to the vocabulary that is on the GRE how are they expected to learn what seems like the entire Webster’s Dictionary for the test? If students spend their time and money taking courses in college then why is a test required that is only measuring 7th-10th grade level understanding? If students have to take extensive writing courses why are they tested on writing? Not to mention some students had to take the SAT or the ACT to get into undergraduate school so why are we being tested again?
According to the National Science Foundation, the University of Florida, and Texas A&M University shows the GRE under predicts the success of minority students in addition to the success of women 25 and older which according to the study is over half of female test takers.
An ETS report, The Role of GRE General and Subject Test Scores In Graduate Program Admission states that 27% percent of schools that require the GRE reported that they use a cutoff. Fifty percent of graduate departments requiring GREs reported using General Test scores to determine fellowship award.
Finally, a study by the Minority Graduate Education Project found that pre-admissions measure of academic skills or the GRE had no correlation to the success of the students that are admitted into graduate school.
Even with all of this information, after I finish this blog, I will return to my test help practice books hoping that I get a high enough score to get into my PhD programs of choice and hopefully with enough funding so that Sallie Mae and I (student loan debt) can end our relationship.
by ASHLEI MCPHERSON
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