As a psychology grad student, I was upset with comments made by Steven Yantis, PhD, at Johns Hopkins University, in "Standing out as a 'bench science' applicant" (November gradPSYCH).
When asked about the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Psychology Test, Yantis says, "I tend not to weigh that as heavily as the others." When asked about the GRE General Test, he says he weighs it more heavily than GPA.
If they are standardized accordingly, shouldn't they both be just as reliable? Discounting one and revering another is simply poor science.
If psychology programs are going to rely so heavily on standardized testing for their admissions process, they should have a better understanding of what the tests actually measure. In an article published in the American Psychologist (Vol. 52, No. 6, pages 630-641), Wendy Williams and Robert Sternberg found that the General GRE had no predictive utility for psychology graduate performance anyway.
The GRE isn't an intelligence test. Psychologists should know the difference among achievement, aptitude (GRE) and intelligence tests.
Generally, THE November GRADPSYCH cover story was helpful, and looking back on my time in school, I wish I had access to the information presented.
There is one underemphasized issue, notably the importance of the GRE. What this article doesn't say is that GRE scores can make or break an applicant. We all know that the GRE is supposed to be considered along with the rest of an application before a decision is made.
However, I have spoken with a few admissions committee members and found out that they have enough time and manpower to get through 200 applications, yet 500 (or more) are often received. As a result, they use the GRE score as a cutoff. If an applicant's score is beneath that cutoff, the applicant is rejected without the rest of his or her application being considered. It's unethical, and it happens every day.
GRE horror stories abound, with applicants holding a 4.0 GPA with research and volunteer experience being rejected because of the GRE. My first master's degree was from Harvard, yet I had to endure the doctoral application process twice because of not testing well.
My point is, students need to know the harsh realities of the GRE and the power that it wields over their careers. They also need to know that because of that power, the merit system repeatedly can take quite a beating.
Staten Island, N.Y.
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