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Likely Impact of the GRE Writing Assessment on Graduate Admissions Decisions

Powers, Donald E.; Fowles, Mary E.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
GREB-97-06R, RR-00-16
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Graduate Admissions Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) Graduate Record Examinations Board Graduate Students GRE Writing Assessment Writing Tests


This "judgmental policy capturing" study investigated how the new Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) Writing Assessment might influence graduate admissions decisions. Of interest was the likely impact of GRE Writing Assessment scores on graduate admissions decisions, as well as the probable effects of sending actual examinee essays to graduate institutions along with test scores and whether the presence of construct-irrelevant flaws in these essays might negatively influence admissions decisions. To answer these questions, 23 graduate faculty--who represent nine graduate psychology and 14 graduate history departments and who have at least some experience with the admissions process--reviewed simulated admissions folders and made admissions decisions for a set of fictitious applicants. The study examined the relationship between these admissions decisions and a number of variables, including GRE Writing Assessment scores, the availability of examinee essays in admissions folders, GRE General Test scores, undergraduate grades, and the quality of the applicant's recommendation and personal statement. The study results suggest that GRE writing scores will probably have some impact on graduate admission decisions, but that overall, the availability of examinee essays will have substantially less, if any, influence. The study did not detect any significant tendency for graduate faculty to attend unduly to extraneous flaws in examinees' essays. A substantial majority of the participants felt that receiving applicants' GRE essays would either probably or definitely be useful.

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