No-GRE-Requirement Master's Programs
The Graduate Records Examination, or GRE, long has been the most frequent deciding factor for students seeking a post-graduate education.
However, questions about its effectiveness in determining academic success, as well as other criticisms, have led some schools to deemphasize its importance in considering admissions. Many programs have dropped it altogether.
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The standardized exam tests students in verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing. According to Educational Testing Services (ETS), which created and administers the exam, the GRE is used in 72 countries including the U.S.
GRE Reputation Comes Under Fire
Despite its widespread use, the GRE’s once unshakable reputation took a couple of body blows in the 1990s.
A 1994 investigation by Kaplan Educational Centers, which coaches students for tests such as the GRE, found that testers were recycling a large percentage of the examination’s questions. This could allow a student to memorize the questions to share with friends or to take the test again, boosting her or his score.
Also, a study by Cornell and Yale universities found that the GRE was a poor indicator of graduate school success. While the study focused on graduate psychology students, the researchers asserted that the findings would prove true for other disciplines, as well.
Also, the study reiterated previous claims that the test was weighted against students from less privileged backgrounds.
"’Graduate programs rely so heavily on GREs to make their initial cuts, many well-qualified applicants who are strong in the appropriate areas aren't even being considered,’” wrote one of the researchers, Wendy M. Williams, associate professor of human development at Cornell University.
“This is a huge disservice to the applicants, the graduate programs and society at large," Williams wrote in an article from Cornell Science News.
Revisions to the GRE (Graduate Records Examination)
ETS revised the GRE in 2011, making it, according to the ETS site, “more closely aligned with the skills needed to succeed in today's graduate and business school programs.” Regardless, many graduate programs are dropping the requirement.
The de-emphasis on the GRE should come as a relief to many potential graduate students. Many otherwise excellent students perform poorly on standardized tests. Even those who do well must cope with the pressure of preparing for a single test that often can override an otherwise stellar academic record.
Potential graduate students, then, may wish to seek out institutions that offer admission without the GRE requirement.
No-GRE Graduate Schools Growing In Number
There is a wide selection of schools offering graduate programs that do not require the GRE for admission, as a quick Google search will reveal.
While liberal arts programs mostly are absent from these lists, there are several institutions offering computer science, engineering and public health programs for which the GRE is not required.
Of course, many programs still do require the GRE for admission. Also, even if the GRE is not required, programs may require a discipline-specific entrance exam.
However, students looking to pursue a career in public health, computer science or engineering have several non-GRE programs from which to choose. And that’s one big chore they can cross off their academic to-do lists.