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Older Students and the GRE Aptitude Test GREB GRE

Baratz, Joan C.; Clark, Mary Jo; Hartle, Terry W.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Graduate Record Examinations Board, Adults, Age Differences, Aptitude Tests, Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), Graduate Students, Student Characteristics


This report reviews background and test performance data on one large segment of potential graduate school applicants?Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test takers who were 30 years of age or older and test takers who had received their bachelor's degrees more than eight years earlier. When contrasted with younger test takers, the older group included a larger proportion of women and minorities, were less likely to aspire to doctoral degrees, and were much more likely to anticipate graduate study in the field of education. However, a sizable number of the older test takers anticipated graduate major fields in academic areas and other professional fields, and indicated that they planned to work for doctoral degrees. Although the average test scores of older test takers were lower than the average scores of younger test takers, the differences in scores on the verbal ability measure were reduced substantially when the data were examined by anticipated field of graduate study. Older test takers consistently had lower average scores on the quantitative measure. A review of the literature on learning ability and age suggests that methodological problems and changing times probably account for most of the reported age differences in both learning ability and performance.

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