2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Faculty Perception of the GRE as a Graduate Admission Requirement

Presented at Graduate Studies Division (GSD) Technical Session 5: Graduate Student Experience and Decision-Making

Over the last few decades, high standardized test scores, particularly the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), have been one of the crucial requirements for graduate admissions. Scholars have debated whether standardized tests serve as an equitable requirement for all students, considering their reflection of demographic characteristics of students unrelated to their intellectual capacity. The global pandemic caused by COVID-19 revived interest in this discussion, as students could not visit testing facilities to complete these exams and had minimal resources to take them home. Higher education institutions, considering the limitations, began to waive the standardized test requirement or list test scores as optional. However, institutions are still deciding if they should keep the GRE as a requirement or remove the requirement permanently. While there is research and comparative studies on the correlation between standardized test scores and students' performance in graduate school, there is little or no research on faculty's perception of standardized tests as a graduate admission requirement. However, faculty serve as admission committee members and eventually work as mentors and advisors for graduate students; therefore, their perceptions of the GRE will be crucially influential in determining the future of this test for graduate school admissions.

This study describes faculty perceptions of the GRE in the context of the engineering graduate (MS Thesis and Doctoral Programs) admission process, considering the lessons learned during the height of COVID-19. Participants in this study are engineering faculty members at a public Southeastern R1 institution in the United States. Quantitative data employing the 5-point Likert scale and qualitative data employing open-ended questions were collected using an online survey. The survey assessed participants' perceptions of the GRE's reliability, relevance, inclusivity, and equitable standards as a graduate admission requirement. These data were analyzed to answer the following questions: (1) How do faculty members perceive the importance of the GRE for admission to MS Thesis and Doctoral programs? (2) How do faculty members' perceptions of the GRE differ across faculty groups (Tenure, discipline, race, ethnicity, gender)?

In this paper, we present data on the percentage of faculty that think the GRE should no longer be a requirement for graduate admissions considering equitable access and the changing atmosphere around student recruitment and retention. We further present findings on the significant difference in perceptions of faculty based on tenure, discipline, race, ethnicity, and gender. We discuss the implications of these results for making graduate programs all-inclusive and accessible while contributing to existing research on standardized tests and diversity in graduate admissions.

  1. Animesh Paul University of Georgia [biography]
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