The GRE Test — A Seriously Blunt Instrument!

The GRE has a spotty record actually quite poor at predicting graduate school performance. An internal analysis of 12,000 GRE-takers by Educational Testing Service, the test maker, shows that only 9% (!) of the differences in first year grad grades (the statistic often used to declare grad school a “success”) can be explained by GRE score differences. An independent study found that just 6% (!!) of the differences (i.e., grad school successes) could be explained (i.e., predicted only by) GRE scores! This accuracy is akin to that gained by using a hammer to open an egg! Yet many departments believe accepting only high GRE scores will give them assurance of the success of their graduate students! There’s a disconnect here! The reality is that many students who mull math or readings slowly and deliberately, see multiple answers as having merit and partial rightness at their deepest level of meaning, are creative in their choice of responses, or who write slowly but brilliantly, are golden grad school material who will bomb the GRE. (That is, these valid, productive student styles are 180 degrees from the skills the GRE test demands.) My online GRE prep course shows such students how to, adjust these skills and even apply them in different ways than usual to still cut a good score!
Sadly, socioeconomic status is a far better predictor of grad school success than the GRE, and so is the undergrad grade average. Also sadly for some who have been away from school settings for some years, there is a clear bonus that recent college graduates get on the test: they are ace-testers whereas those out using their smarts and making their mark in a job for a while don’t test as well, but they have more learning savvy, can go outside the box, and can troubleshoot in their grad courses, making them good grad material while looking lousy on the GRE. The GRE rewards testing proficiency, rapid information processing (like those quiz show wizards have in spades), black-and-white thinking, and math factoids. A grad school classroom filled with these types of thinkers would be deficient without the other thinkers GRE excludes. Unfortunately many grad schools still actually believe the GRE tells them a lot about your future with them when it reveals little of essence, something their own venture into GRE research would show them. (Good news: as I discuss in my online course, more admissions committees are deciding to work though an admissions package “holistically,” not granting GRE scores undue weight over experience, college grades, recommendations, and self-representation. Nevertheless, GRE is a hoop applicants must clear if they want entrance to many schools and my online GRE prep course will help you do that.
The good news though is that departments of many schools treat the GRE predictive capabilities with suspicion. In my prep I teach students in a comfortable interactive online coaching atmosphere how to treat the GREs influence on their acceptance realistically–how to find out what their department thinks of the GRE–thus possibly reducing their fear that the GRE will sink their chances of admittance (if they learn the department is savvy about the GRE’s limitations). I also help them figure out their reasonable score goals for the particular institution they apply to. Many have relaxed their test anxiety greatly in my online prep just learning these aspects.

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