Effects of Graduate Coursework on the GRE Quantitative Score for Recent and Nonrecent College Graduates

Author(s):
Hale, Gordon A.; Rock, Donald A.; Longford, Nicholas T.
Publication Year:
1991
Report Number:
RR-91-15
GREB-84-26P
Source:
Document Type:
Subject/Key Words:
Quantitative ability test preparation

Abstract

Previous research has shown that the mean quantitative score on the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) General Test or GRE quantitative score, declines with age of the examinee, while the mean GRE verbal score remains relatively constant. It is assumed that the age-related decline in quantitative score is due, at least in part, to an increase in time away from formal academic work. A hypothesis that follows from this observation is that taking formal quantitative coursework, such as that provided in graduate school, should cause nonrecent graduates' mean GRE quantitative score to rebound to a level that is closer to that of recent graduates. To test this hypothesis, recent and nonrecent college graduates who were currently enrolled in graduate programs in the social sciences, for whom preadmission GRE scores were available, and who had some quantitative coursework in those programs, were identified. Recent graduates were those who had graduated one year or less before taking the GRE, and nonrecent graduates were those who had graduated (or last received postgraduate schooling) seven years or more before taking the GRE. All students were administered an abbreviated General Test. The results failed to support the hypothesis; the difference between 264 recent and 66 nonrecent graduates' quantitative performance on the second (abbreviated) GRE test was just as pronounced, relative to scale, as was the difference on the first (preadmission) GRE test. Possible reasons for these results are discussed.

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