GRE SCORES AS PREDICTORS OF MINORITY STUDENTS' SUCCESS IN GRADUATE STUDY: AN ARGUMENT FOR CHANGE

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Date: June 2001
From: College Student Journal(Vol. 35, Issue 2)
Publisher: Project Innovation Austin LLC
Document Type: Article
Length: 2,807 words

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Minority access to graduate education has captured the concern of admissions officers, professors, and administrators over the last two decades. Central to the issue is whether standard entry prerequisites are accurate predictors of whether an applicant can successfully complete the requirements for, and subsequently earn a graduate degree.

The present study sought to determine, "How accurate have the GRE scores and select demographic variables been in predicting the first year graduate work among minority students at a `Research I' institution?" Descriptive statistics, correlation, and multiple regression were utilized to statistically analyze these data. Due to the findings of this study, it suggests the necessity of focusing on other factors besides the usual criteria when admitting minority students to graduate programs.

Minority students' access to graduate education is an issue that has captured the concern of admissions officers, professors and administrators over the last two decades. Central to the issue is which entry prerequisites are meaningful or accurate in predicting whether an applicant can successfully complete the requirements for, and subsequently earn a graduate degree. The most widely examined portions of an applicant's dossier are the undergraduate transcript, an applicant's personally written statement, letters of support provided from faculty familiar with the applicant, and performance on standardized examinations such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). In a limited number of instances, personal interviews with the applicant are also used.

None of these means unilaterally constitutes a defensible basis for making an admissions decision. Undergraduate transcripts reflect differential-grading standards practiced at individual institutions, personal statements are subjective and cannot determine the actual potential of the applicant and likewise, faculty letters of reference are subjective. The standardized, nationally normed examination is the most objective. However, its usefulness in predicting minority students' success in graduate education has not been established without equivocation.

Early Pathos of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

The ETS' own data sources (Grandy, 1994) indicate that GRE General Test Scores were "slightly to moderately predictive" of the graduate students' first year grade point average. Moreover, proponents of the GRE state that its scores do not consist of all the important variables in predicting an individual's success in a graduate program. A twenty-year longitudinal study reported that undergraduate grades were assumed to be inflated and less trustworthy than the standardized test (Willingham, 1974). Moreover, the issue of whether competence or aptitude was the more valuable factor in admissions decisions was also debated (Hodgkinson, Hurst and Levine, 1975).

In addition to these emerging views on the viability of the GRE vis-a-vis undergraduate grades, a variety of methodological and conceptual problems have been cited and they tend to reflect serious difficulty in demonstrating the validity of entrance examinations as a predictor of graduate school success (Sanders and Perfetto, 1992; Oldfield, 1994). Additionally, Morrison and Morrison (1995) conducted a recta-analytic review on published studies examining the relationship between performance on the quantitative and verbal components of the GRE and grade point average (GPA). The weighted average effect for the quantitative and verbal were .445 and...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A77399637