GRE scores should not be the sole indicator of students’ success at the graduate level


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Richard Ho, Staff Writer

The landmark decision from the UC Board of Regents on suspension of standardized exams required for undergraduate admissions of fall 2021 and 2022 for students applying to UC schools has made critics question the quality of standardized exams for graduate school admissions. 

Income inequality gives an unfair advantage for high-income students to have a higher chance of obtaining high standardized test scores for competitive universities. The standardized exam is biased towards high-income students who can afford expensive test prep and should be eliminated to level the playing field for graduate admissions.

Critics also question the role that standardized exams play in predicting students’ success for conducting research and academic achievement at the graduate level. 

Standardized exams for graduate admissions are a poor way to predict students’ success at the graduate level. 

The main suggestion from critics is to eliminate the GRE from the graduate admissions in universities and also ask how the GRE can predict students’ success of becoming a researcher in the graduate level. 

According to the official Educational Testing Service (ETS) website, the GRE can predict various categories, such as verbal reasoning, of academic success for students in graduate school. Some graduate programs see GRE scores as valuable components in their acceptance decisions due to recent grade inflations occurring in undergraduate institutions. 

However, the weight of standardized exams in admissions processes only allows high-income students to buy high exam scores and obtain admission to their desired university merely because they can afford expensive test prep.

The opposition of the GRE exam for the graduate admissions has two main reasons: financial burdens on students to purchase expensive test prep to obtain high test scores to achieve admission to their dream university and questioning the legitimacy of predicting students’ successes in graduate school. 

Low-income students may not perform well on the GRE due to lack of resources despite research experience from their university. 

GRE exam scores determine the fate of students gaining graduate admission to their dream university. Students who perform extremely well on the GRE, such as the verbal section score of 163 or higher, may be able to secure a seat on their desired university, while students who performed poorer on the GRE may feel their time of conducting research in their university prior to graduate admissions is a waste of time. 

GRE scores should not play a major role in students receiving graduate admissions. It fails to predict students’ abilities of perseverance and creativity on pursuing their dreams in graduate school. 

The reliance on the GRE in graduate admissions can harm students with extensive research experiences from their undergraduate career, because the students’ performance on their exam is too highly valued in an admission decision. Purchasing expensive test prep to gain graduate admissions to a university discriminates against low-income students who have the talent and passion for graduate school.

Competitive graduate programs in universities should place more value on students’ research and their statement of purpose rather than the GRE scores. 

GRE scores are the poorest marker to predict students’ success in graduate school, like SAT scores. 

Colleges like the UC universities made a good decision on not mandating the standardized exams along with a gradual process to eliminate standardized exams for undergraduate admissions. 

The universities must not view students as numbers and should instead view students based on the scope of research experiences along with their statement of purpose on their graduate admission decisions to complete a student’s profile.  

Richard Ho is a staff writer for The Cougar Chronicle. He is currently a junior computer science major and mathematics minor. Richard is considering applying to graduate school with the emphasis of artificial intelligence next year.  During his free time, he enjoys running outside early in the morning and being with his family.