Grad Students React to New GRE: Yale Daily News

Yale Daily News

Here’s an article from Yale University’s daily periodical, Yale Daily News, entitled “Grad Students React to the New GRE.”  The article is basically a summary of various different viewpoints on the new GRE.

The most interesting part about the article for me is actually the comments.  There are only thirteen comments as of this writing, but boy are they contentious.

Here’s one perspective (edited for formatting):

Except for the comment “They don’t test anything except how well you do on them”, these posts about the new GRE’s are frightening for their bloodless, statistical analyses.  They betray an apathetic acceptance of standardized tests by standardized students on their way to becoming standardized citizens.  It seems like a nightmare of cookie-cutter education come true —the death of the liberal arts and the triumph of Betty Crocker curricula: just add ingredients, mix, stir to rubric specifications and bake in a charter school for four years at a benchmark of 350 degrees and you get a perfectly shaped human being capable of taking standardized tests forever–even at Yale.  Pardon me while I vomit.
PK M.Div.’80

Posted by * All Made of Ticky-tacky… on January 15, 2010 at 7:36 p.m

And part of a response to it:

If a student wants to go to graduate school, and graduate school requires the GRE, the student must care about doing well on the GRE, at least to some extent. Would you argue that the very desire to go to graduate school of any kind is characteristic of people on their way to becoming “standardized citizens”? That seems extreme and, frankly, silly.

Posted by Y’09 on January 16, 2010 at 10:55 a.m.

I, too, have somewhat ambivalent feelings toward standardized tests like the GRE, but while I sympathize with certain aspects of PK’s perspective, I agree more strongly with Y’09.  Regardless of your personal feelings toward the GRE, the fact of the matter is that graduate schools require the GRE — for that reason alone, you should care about doing well on it.

The idea that the use of the GRE indicates a standardization of curricula is, as Y’09 aptly puts it, silly.  The GRE isn’t supposed to be, and has never claimed to be, in any way, a reflection of graduate curricula.  The purpose of standardized testing is to provide a normalizing factor to account for the inevitable variations across the spectrum of applicants.  Other factors like GPA, recommendation letters, and work/research experience vary widely — a 4.0 GPA at one school may correlate to a 3.0 at another, for instance.  The GRE provides a baseline context from which to evaluate the rest of the application.

Of course, no standardized test is perfectly normalizing.  Creating a single test that eliminates all factors outside of general intelligence is probably an impossible task.  But still, universities have to try, so the GRE is what it is: a tool to help you get into graduate school.  Study hard for it, play the game, utilize it to your advantage, and then move on to what’s really important.

5 Responses to “Grad Students React to New GRE: Yale Daily News”


  • I feel that the GRE’s are not an accurate measure of ones ability for graduate studies but then again, I realize that feelings don’t matter much in this process. Taking the bull by the horns, I took a prep course and got to studying, the results are I did very poorly on the GRE, and I really mean very poorly. I hear that my score is indicative of ESL, but English is my only language. I’m actually wondering how it all happened. I am now hoping that my strong GPA, Master’s and Ref’s will carry me through. I’ve always done poorly on standardized tests but have done well in school. I also have some solid research experience. Luckily, I met with the head of the department recently and she really likes what I have to offer. She has agreed to pay my expenses to visit the school and other faculty. Even though it won’t officially count, I’m thinking of taking the GRE’s again. In turn, when I meet with them, the hope is that my score improves and therefore I can show them my capabilities. Does anyone know if this has worked before?

    • Could you clarify why taking the GRE again wouldn’t officially count? Would the scores not arrive in time?

      Remember that the GRE is only one part of your application, and graduate schools are looking for more than a GRE score. They’re looking for enthusiastic candidates who will be able to contribute to the research at their institutions. If your scores can’t be admitted as part of your “official” application then you probably shouldn’t worry. However, if they can be admitted, there’s really no reason you shouldn’t just go ahead and take the GRE again if you have the time — think of it as icing on a cake. It sounds as though that you are already a strong applicant, otherwise the department head wouldn’t have gone this far to bring you to visit.

      Finally, if you can, we encourage you to visit and meet current grad students in the department that you’re trying to get into. Current grad students can be good resources for everything ranging from their admissions experiences to current research topics in the department.

  • What i mean is that i already submitted my GRE scores. The deadline is 12/31 and to take it again would mean i have to wait until after the deadline, thus a second score would not be eligible for consideration. ( My original test date was 12/10/10).
    I am only considering taking it again because i have an interview in a few months and i want to show them that i can improved my GRE score. Any yes, they have showed interest in me, but they did not know my GRE score at the time. So I’m not sure if I should bother taking it again to prove myself in the interview, or should I depend on my the rest of my application to see me through.

  • It wasn’t that bad. That’s the last test that I took. Wish I would have studied more but didn’t study at all and got into soochl. K Reed brought over some math books the night before and I crammed a bit. There are GRE prep books that would be way cheaper than the study course. Those are ok but you can do just as good on your own with the materials. You will do fine. Take some ear plugs. Some dude got up and started screaming in the middle of mine. Had to be escorted out of the test room!!

  • All the study books have a list of vocabulary words. Write each one down on an index card with the diofnitiens and place them all around the house and at work. Every time you come across a card, take a minute to study it.The GRE is scary (I won\’t lie), but not as bad as you think. You\’re going in way more prepared then I was. So, you\’re already ahead of the game.

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