In DepthGRADUATE TRAINING

Ph.D. programs drop standardized exam

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Science  31 May 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6443, pp. 816
DOI: 10.1126/science.364.6443.816

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Summary

For decades, admission to graduate programs in the United States has hinged on students' scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test. But the long reign of the GRE may be drawing to a close. In response to recent studies showing little correlation between GRE scores and success in graduate school and concern that the test puts underrepresented groups at a disadvantage, a growing number of Ph.D. programs have stopped requiring GRE scores, Science found after examining application requirements for eight disciplines at 50 top-ranked U.S. research universities. The life sciences have led the so-called GRExit push: In 2018, 44% of molecular biology Ph.D. programs stopped requiring GRE scores. And in neuroscience and ecology, roughly one-third of programs dropped the GRE requirement between 2016 and 2018. The movement has yet to take hold in some disciplines—more than 90% of the chemistry, physics, geology, computer science, and psychology Ph.D. programs that were surveyed by Science required general GRE scores in 2018. But a few programs in those fields have also joined the exodus. As one researcher says, "It's such a time of flux right now."