Frequently Asked Questions About the ETS® Personal Potential Index (ETS® PPI)

How should the ETS® PPI Evaluation Report be used?

The information on the ETS PPI Evaluation Report should be considered along with a graduate applicant's undergraduate grades, test scores, recommendation letters and other information that is submitted as part of the graduate application. Each report contains information to assist graduate programs in interpreting the report. Learn more about Guidelines for Interpreting ETS PPI Evaluation Reports.

How does the ETS PPI Evaluation Report relate to the letter of recommendation?

The ETS PPI Evaluation Report and the letter of recommendation have important but distinct roles to play in the graduate admissions process. Unlike a letter of recommendation, the ETS PPI Evaluation Report provides standardized and quantifiable information, making it possible to compare candidates within a given year and from year to year — as well as from institution to institution. The ratings on the ETS PPI Evaluation Report are based on evaluators' responses to a common set of structured questions. Moreover, the report incorporates ratings from a number of evaluators, rather than just one.

How are applicants rated in the ETS PPI?

The evaluation consists of 24 questions (four for each of the six dimensions) plus an overall evaluation. Evaluators use a 5-point Likert scale to rate the applicant relative to other students from the same department or program who have gone on to graduate study. The scale points are "Below Average," "Average," "Above Average," "Outstanding (Top 5%)" and "Truly Exceptional (Top 1%)." Evaluators may also provide comments for each of the six dimensions and for the overall rating.

ETS converts the ratings to numerical equivalents and computes means for each evaluator for each dimension, as well as for all evaluators across each dimension and for the "overall evaluation" category. The ETS PPI Evaluation Report provides graphical representations of the data and includes any comments provided by the evaluators.

How are the mean ratings calculated?

The mean rating for each evaluator for a particular dimension averages an evaluator's ratings for all of the statements within that dimension. The mean rating for each dimension averages all of the evaluators' mean ratings for that dimension. The mean rating for "Overall Evaluation" averages all of the evaluators' ratings for the overall evaluation.

What evidence do you have that these attributes are the right ones?

ETS PPI reflects nearly a decade of research by ETS and university researchers on personality theory and measurement of personal attributes, as well as on feedback from hundreds of graduate and business school deans and faculty members. In addition, ETS is committed to ongoing validity research for ETS PPI that explores the relationship between these attributes and success in graduate and professional school.

How does a graduate program know whether the evaluators are who they say they are?

As is the case with letters of recommendation, the possibility of evaluator misrepresentation exists with the ETS PPI. ETS is taking several steps to reduce this likelihood, however. For example, evaluators must e-sign a statement confirming their identity and acknowledging that they have been informed of the potential penalties for misrepresentation. In addition, the ETS PPI Evaluation Report includes contact information for each evaluator, allowing graduate schools to investigate if they have questions or concerns. However, ETS does not verify the identity of evaluators and does not make any assurances regarding evaluators' identities.

As a faculty member, I already write letters of recommendation for my students. Why should I complete an ETS PPI evaluation?

ETS PPI is convenient and easy to use. An evaluator needs to complete only one evaluation for an applicant — regardless of how many applications the student makes. We estimate that it will take the average evaluator less than 15 minutes to complete an evaluation, which consists of 24 statements (four for each of the six dimensions) plus an overall evaluation. If they choose, evaluators may also provide additional comments. In other words, in less than 15 minutes, a faculty member can help students provide a more complete picture of their potential for success in graduate school.

If an evaluator does not speak English, can he or she complete an ETS PPI evaluation for an applicant?

ETS has translated the ETS PPI statements into Mandarin Chinese and Spanish-language versions to assist evaluators who speak these languages in better understanding the statements on which they must rate the applicant. However, any text provided by the evaluator must be in English.

How can I receive ETS PPI Evaluation Reports as part of my admissions process?

All institutions and programs that currently receive GRE® scores are automatically eligible to receive ETS PPI Evaluation Reports. Other programs and institutions can apply for a recipient code online.

In what format are ETS PPI Evaluation Reports delivered?
Institutions can receive the ETS PPI Evaluation Reports in paper format or electronically via Scorelink® Internet Delivery Service.

For more information about how ETS PPI can help your graduate program, contact ETS today.