A wave of graduate programs drops the GRE application requirement
Now we have Katie Lincoln a staff writer at science. She's been trying to quantify the perception, that graduate programs have begun the great Greg's, sit or the GRE exodus. Hi, katie. Hi. Okay. Just a background question here. Did you take the GRE? I did take the Jerry way back in two thousand and five. I took the GRE end went through the process of studying for this standardized test to get into grad school me, too. Took the general or was it? The biology one. I just took the general test me, too. If you know, people in the sciences, these days, oh, you've probably heard at least anecdotally that grad schools aren't really asking for the GRE as much anymore. But that's kind of been a, you know, something, a school will announce or people start talking about about. How did you go about finding out that this was more than, you know, a case here or there, how that was more than anecdote? Yes, there's been this chatter on Twitter in particular, that the so-called Brexit movement has been gaining steam in number of programs have been announcing that they've dropped the GRE, but I was really curious to quantify how many programs have actually dropped it. And how that differs between scientific disciplines. And so what I did is I sampled peachy programs at fifty of the top ranked research, universities in the US, and looked at whether they required, the General Jerry tests in eight different disciplines, so molecular biology, neuroscience ecology. Chemistry computer science psychology physics, and geology. And when you say top ranked where those rankings come from bay came from the times, higher education ranking system. Okay. When you looked at all these schools at all these different disciplines, did you were you able to say? Yeah. Something's happening here. The GRE is starting to go away in a big way. Yes. So is interesting going into this. I knew that there had been a shift in recent years, but I didn't realize how dramatic it had been and what I found is that if I had collected these data just a few years ago, the vast majority of peachy programs would have required that year general test, but the changes been really dramatic in the life sciences, in particular. So in two thousand eighteen forty four percent of molecular biology. Peachy program stopped requiring joss force end just the year before one hundred percent of programs. At least. In my sample require the jury that is a big change. And, and you saw some decrease across the board. Yes. So Euroscience in college about a third of programs, did not require General Jerry scores in two thousand eighteen and a lot of them are actually going to move to not require the jury to nine. So these numbers are on the rise for sure. In two thousand nineteen. Yeah. Were there any of these categories that we're not doing this? When I looked at chemistry computer science psychology physics, geology more than ninety percent of programs required the Jiri, but in a number of those disciplines, there does seem to be a movement as well. So so chemistry, they're supposed to drop the GRE geology, actually hundred percent of programs in two thousand eighteen that I survey require the jury, but there are a couple of programs already this year, that have announced that they're gonna drop the Jerry. And so there seems. To movement in those areas as well. It just seems to be a little bit slower or not as dramatic as what I found in the life sciences, while, I'm not gonna make a Brexit, joke because I don't really understand what is happening there. But what, what do we know about why these institutions are stopping requiring Jerry? Do you talk to people, and ask them what, what was the main driver of this? Yes, they're number of different reasons. One, one reason, is that a number of studies have come out in the last few years questioning whether GRE scores are predictive of success in grad school. So admissions officers look at the jury scores and a lot of people think that they are indicative of someone's in the intelligence their ability to succeed. But when you actually look at the data in a number of programs studies found that they aren't predictive of things like the number of for southern publications Umbro, fellowships, students, receive their time in grad school, whether they graduate, some of them have. Found that the jury scores are predictive of for semester grades but for for research base PHD programs. I think a lot of people view that as not a particularly important thing to predict. Yup. Another reason is that especially in the current climate of wanting to increase diversity in science. There's concern that the use of the GRE actually disadvantages underrepresented groups. So women and underrepresented racial ethnic minorities tend to score lower on the jury end. It's kind of expensive tests for a lot of people that puts people from lower socio economic backgrounds at a disadvantage. So the test costs to engine five dollars, it costs extra money. If you want to retake it to up your scores in. That's a fairly common thing on for grad school applicants to take the test multiple times to get a better score. It also costs money to travel to take the test, and it costs extra money to suppress. Jiri score so you can take off multiple times. And then suppress the scores that you don't want schools to see for an undergraduate student, who's may be working one or two side jobs to pay for their education. It can be a financial burden to pay for this test, but it also can be a time burden so they have to spend a lot of time studying in some cases, people who have the means to do. So actually pay upwards of thousand dollars or more for GRE prep. Course and so it really advantages people who have the time in the money to study in pay for this test. The sounds like there's a few categories of reasons that the universities are thinking about dropping the GRE as requirement, but let's talk about the testing company that runs this test. What do they say to the fact that the studies are saying, you know, this isn't correlating with things that departments, particularly care about in might be a barrier? What, what is there? Argument for continuing use of this test from their perspective. The juries are another piece of data and they're a rare, part of that -plication is actually standardized across applicants. They also say that, you know, the other parts of application, reference letters, educational background. They're also subject to bias. And so, you know, it's hard to drop the Jiri think that there is, no bias remaining in the admissions procedures in so, so they argue that it's another piece of information, it shouldn't be used to make emissions decisions alone. But it should be part part of the package. They also take issue with some of the recent studies. So one of the drawbacks of these recent study says that they're looking at admitted students than for the most part of students have fairly Hijiri scores to begin once in the students who have lower Jiri, scores probably really stand out in other parts of their application. So maybe they just. Had a bad day that day they happen to get a low Jerry scored. They didn't quite steady enough. And so what they say is that we really don't have the best experimental design in the studies, and that they're not really designed to find a correlation between Jerry scores in these measures of success in grad school in so ideally, what you would have is basically study that randomly admit students across the range of Jerry scores. And then look at success in grad school, it's hard. It's hard to imagine a study like that ever happening. So the testing company feels that they provide enough of a service that institutions should continue to use this, but it does look like the trend in the science and the sciences that they're saying there's not enough science there for this to be a test that we use. And it also seems to create a barrier. So if this test is dropped more broadly, do you think it'll change not only who's accepted, but also who applies to graduate school? Yeah. That's. Great question. So they're actually some people looking at this right now and looking to take advantage of the so-called Grech set movement. Some researchers at the university of Minnesota sent out a survey last month to biomedical peach programs that have dropped the Jiri also ones that have maintained the requirements and what they're interested in trying to figure out whether dropping the Jerry requirement will diversify applicant pool. And there's some argument that, that might be the case some students might do poorly on the Jerry. Maybe they can't afford to retake tests, and their teary scores in so they just decided not to apply to grad school. Others might not be able to Ford the tests to begin with. What about the idea of making the GRE optional, so not making a requirement but adding it as an extra data point to your application. They're proponents of that. And so one reason that might be a good thing is because there can be some difficulty for applicant. Aunts that come from less well-known schools, or maybe had some sort of disadvantage in their past that hinder application, who could benefit from having Hijiri scores, so can help them get noticed in application process. And so, so people say, well, you should give them the option of submitting their cheery score through other people who I spoke to who think that's not a very good idea. Because basically, when you give applicants option of submitting, Jerry scores, they actually look at that and think that, that is a requirement in one person. I spoke to said that in his experience, working with underrepresented minorities, they in particular see that as a requirement because they bet that's the only way they can really compete with other applicants, as if they have a strong. Jiri scored another drawback is that faculty members may look at applicants who don't cement, Jerry scores in a bad light. They might be biased against them. Because the applicants who do summit, Jerry scores. More likely than not have Hijiri scores. Right. And so it could lead to a question in the faculty members mind, even if it's not conscious even if it's at an unconscious level that could be thinking what about the student who didn't Smith? Jerry scores is it because their scores were very strong.