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GRE Candidates' Perceptions of the Importance of Graduate Admission Factors GREB GRE

Lehman, James D.; Powers, Donald E.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Graduate Record Examinations Board, Admission Criteria, Black Students, College Choice, College Students, Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), Graduate Study, Racial Differences, Student Attitudes


Many factors influence prospective graduate students' choice of a graduate school, including the chances of gaining admission. This study examines the perceptions of a representative sample of GRE test takers who were asked to indicate their views of the importance of eight widely considered factors in graduate admissions. Candidates' perceptions were compared for each of the factors and for subgroups of candidates determined by sex, ethnicity, age, and intended graduate major field. Overall, candidates perceived undergraduate grades as the single most important factor in graduate admissions. This held true for each of the candidate subgroups considered in the analysis. Recommendations and one's undergraduate field were rated as somewhat less important than undergraduate grades, and GRE Aptitude Test scores even less important. GRE Advanced Test scores were perceived as considerably less important than any other factor. Analyses by subgroup revealed that candidates' perceptions differed markedly according to the graduate field they intended to enter. There were relatively few large differences between the perceptions of men and women or between younger and older students. Black candidates and White candidates, however, exhibited quite different patterns of perceptions, especially in their judgments of the importance of GRE test scores, which Black candidates viewed as being more influential than did White candidates. The implications of the differences between the perceptions of Black candidates and White candidates are discussed, and possible courses of action are suggested.

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