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GRE Gets Low Grade

VU International News and Reviews No. 123 November 03 2018

November 2018

In a study in the Open Access platform PLOSone, Sandra Petersen from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and colleagues report on their analysis of the predictive value of the GRE in STEM doctoral programmes at four major state flagship universities. GRE gets a poor grade – in predicting drop out/retention as well as in time to degree.

They found that GRE Verbal (GRE V) and GRE Quantitative (GRE Q) scores were similar for women who completed STEM PhD degrees and those who left programs. Remarkably, GRE scores were significantly higher for men who went than counterparts who completed STEM PhD degrees. Men in the lower quartiles of GRE V or Q scores finished degrees more often than those in the highest quartile.

Also, the message that the GRE has less predictive value that some may think is convincing and important; two observations are in order:

  • ETS never stops underlining that the GRE should be used as one on several indicators in any admission process, and
  • the analysis – when looked at in detail – allows conclusions about (lacking) predictive value of the GRE in the relatively narrow bandwidth of those students who were admitted in the first place. It sheds no light on the (possibly much higher) predictive value of the GRE between above and below 500 as a score.
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