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GRE Introduction

Weak predictor of graduate school performance

The GREs are criticized for not being a true measure of a whether a student will be successful in graduate school. The ETS published a report ("What is the Value of the GRE?") that points out the GRE's shortcomings in attempting to predict a student's index of success at the graduate level.

While the verbal section tests vocabulary and verbal reasoning, the vocabulary employed is not specifically relevant to any particular area of study, and (in the case of analogies and antonymsis presented without context. The quantitative portion of the test covers topics that are far too elementary for any program in the fields of math or science, as well as being irrelevant for the study of most liberal arts topics. The Analytic Writing section (derived from ETS' unpopular Writing Assessment Test) may be less useful in assessing writing ability than a prepared writing sample (generally known as a 'Personal Statement' or 'Statement of purpose') relevant to the appropriate field (which is also required for admissions by many programs).

Dr. Robert Sternberg of Tufts University found that the GRE general test was weakly predictive of success in graduate studies in psychology. The weak predictability may be related to the mathematics portion of the GRE general test because a good foundation of mathematics is important in understanding advanced statistics. However, in some branches of psychology, the application of statistics is only a small part.

The mathematical portion of the GRE general test is the only area of the GRE general test that may have predictive ability in the natural sciences. The natural sciences require a strong foundation in mathematics for success in both core courses and in statistical analysis related to research. However, it is not clear whether the GRE accurately assesses mathematical skills required for success in graduate school.

Recent reports and questionnaires have shown that the GRE General Test is not as significant in determining graduate admissions as once believed and that some schools are moving away from placing an emphasis on high GRE scores.

A 2005 study concluded that "the combination of GRE scores and undergraduate grade point average strongly predicts cumulative graduate grade point average and faculty ratings. These results hold in each discipline and appear to hold in the small subgroups."

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