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The Role of GRE General and Subject Test Scores in Graduate Program Admission GREB GRE

Oltman, Philip K.; Hartnett, Rodney T.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Graduate Record Examinations Board, Admission Criteria, Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), Graduate Study, Selective Admission, Test Use


To learn more about graduate program selectivity, admission test requirements, and the role the Graduate Record Examinations play in the admission process, a two-phase study was carried out. First, the GRE General Test and/or Subject Test requirements of a broad range of graduate programs were summarized by examining data in two issues of the Graduate Programs and Admissions Manual. Analyses of these data indicated how many and what kinds of graduate programs do and do not require or recommend GRE test scores. Second, a mail survey of graduate programs was carried out in order to determine their perceptions of the role test scores play in the admission process and to obtain specific information about how they use test score information. The same questionnaire (with appropriate branching instructions) was used to learn why certain programs do not require or recommend GRE scores. The following conclusions were reached: 1. While variations exist across disciplines, approximately 64 percent of all graduate programs require or recommend submission of GRE scores; 2. GRE test score requirements have not changed appreciably over the last decade; 3. There is little relationship between program selectivity and use of GRE scores; 4. The primary use of GRE scores appears to be to compensate for otherwise weak applicant credentials; 5. The primary reason given for not using GRE scores is that the departments feel that other data provide an adequate basis for admission decisions; 6. Graduate departments assign the most importance to undergraduate grades in making admission decisions, followed by letters of recommendation and by GRE scores, with other criteria rated progressively less important.

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