GRE gains prominence in graduate testing market

By Lena Shapiro

The market for graduate testing has gotten more competitive in the last year as the Educational Testing Service has encouraged undergraduate students to take the Graduate Record Examinations, commonly referred to as the GRE.

The Educational Testing Service is formerly responsible for the Graduate Management Admission Test, commonly known as the GMAT, but lost ownership in 2003 to ACT and a division of Pearson. They have released a table comparing scores of students taking the GRE and the GMAT, with results showing that the two have a strong correlation.

“We report what the correlation is, 0.86 percent, which is pretty high,” said David Payne, associate vice president of the higher education division of the GRE. “That means if you were going to go to graduate school and you took the GRE in September and you took it again in March, the correlation between those two scores would be 0.86, correlation between these is what it would be if you took the same tests twice.”

The report took actual scores of students taking the GRE and used them to predict what the same students would get if they took the GMAT. Comparing those predictions with actual GMAT scores, the report concluded its high correlation.

Payne said this is mostly likely a result of both tests having a similar nature: testing students on their verbal and quantitative reasoning skills.

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Historically, students have been discouraged from taking the GRE because several graduate programs do not accept it and require GMAT results instead.

“The University business school requires the GMAT because that is the test of measuring general management achievement. The GRE will not meet requirements of the (Master of Business Administration),” said Jackie Wilson, director of Master of Business Administration admissions.

Wilson said another reason the University’s business school mandates the GMAT is because college ranking publications require schools to report GMAT scores, and not GRE scores. A change in the University’s policy would have to be involved with ranking publications’ decisions, she added.

“It would all have to be correlated since they are the ones that ask for the GMAT score on the rankings and that is a part of the ranking for MBA programs,” she said.

Part of the GRE’s campaign has also been emphasizing the disparity in the prices of each test, costing $140 to take the GRE while the GMAT runs $250.

“I think the prices should be the same; there shouldn’t be that big of a difference. If I found a school I liked that would accept the GRE, I’d take it instead,” said Marie Olson, sophomore in Business.

Despite the cost, the GMAT is still the more widely accepted test for graduate programs, especially for business programs.

“What we’re trying to do is allow for students to submit GRE scores for business school programs,” said Payne.

So far, 125 MBA programs accept the GRE. The University has emphasized using the GRE as a requirement for admission.

“We’ve always required the GRE in mechanical engineering. I think it depends more on the area you’re applying; it depends on the subject matter of the test. A majority of the programs I know of on campus require the GRE,” said Laura Baylor, graduate admissions coordinator of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Students have reflected that thought when deciding on which exam they should take as well.

“Basically, the GRE is the only one that engineering schools are looking for. Most of my friends have taken the GRE because they’re applying to the same schools I am,” said Kevin Screiber, senior in Engineering.