“Beyond The GRE” Campaign And “GREXIT” Web List Seek To Downplay Tests In Graduate School Admissions

for further information:
Sandra L. Petersen, PhD  413 545-1808           
or Bob Schaeffer (FairTest)  239 395-6773


for immediate release, Thursday, November 1, 2018



Scores from the Graduate Records Examinations (GRE) are not good predictors of success in many graduate school programs, according to leaders of an effort to reduce reliance on test results launched today. A “Beyond the GRE” website (http://beyondthegre.org/) and “GREXIT” list of programs that do not require the test (http://beyondthegre.org/grexit/) will give students information they can use to choose graduate programs. It will also provide faculty admissions committees with strategies for evaluating applicants without regard to standardized exam results.

Recently published research led by Dr. Sandra Petersen of the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that GRE scores do not predict which students will complete science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) doctoral programs (http://beyondthegre.org/study/). In fact, GRE scores were negatively correlated with PhD completion for men. 

Petersen said, “Not only is the test not predictive of the most important index of success in graduate school, relying heavily on the GRE to select students can hamper efforts to promote diversity in many professions.” The “Beyond the GRE” website cites many studies to support these claims (http://beyondthegre.org/gre-scores-are-not-good-predictors-of-success-in-stem-doctoral-programs/).

Dr. Petersen added, “Students from underrepresented groups generally score less well than other students on the GRE.  Even if students with lower scores are admitted, the very fact that they know their scores can undermine their confidence and interfere with their performance.  Similarly, knowing the GRE scores of applicants they accept may affect the expectations and assessments faculty members have of those students.” 

Dr. Petersen continued, “In view of the GRE’s great cost to institutions, students and their families – both financial and personal -- why do we keep using a test that has not been found to be predictive of the endpoint we are trying to achieve? In fact, more and more institutions have decided to end their GRE mandates. Many others are working to come up with new systems for identifying talent. Our new website is designed to provide useful resources for developing such strategies. We hope it encourages more graduate programs to re-evaluate their testing requirements.” 

Robert Schaeffer, Public Education Director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) added, “Just as ACT/SAT optional plans have surged across undergraduate admissions, we expect ‘GREXIT’ policies to achieve strong momentum at the graduate school level.”  A FairTest list now includes more than 1,020 colleges and universities with test-optional policies (http://www.fairtest.org/university/optional).

The “Beyond the GRE” campaign is backed by a network of organizations, academicians, administrators and educational researchers working together to develop doctoral admissions procedures that are more effective and inclusive than those that rely on GRE scores (http://beyondthegre.org/about-us/).

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