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."
