GRE scores:your opinion

Andrew Cockburn afc at
Thu Feb 3 10:26:48 EST 1994

In article <1994Feb1.163144.8270 at>, degroote at TIGGER.STCLOUD.MSUS.EDU writes:
> The question is frequent and the facts are few, so why not ask the pundits.
> What role do GRE scores play in admission to your grad program?
> I.E. on a scale of 1-5 (not important-very important).
> Is there a ranking with the three categories; one more important than other?
> Is there a need to take an area test for your program?
> How many students improve their scores the second-time around?
> David DeGroote
> snail mail:Department of Biology
> St Cloud State University
> St. Cloud, MN  56301-4498
> ps. thanks in advance-i've got a lousy editor and fat fingers.

I have been involved in graduate admissions in two departments: Entomology
and Nematology here at the University of Florida and (long ago) Biology
at UC San Diego.  Despite major differences in how those departments
function, the types of applicants they attract, and the overall quality
of students, both places used GRE scores in pretty much the same way.

Primarily, scores are used for screening out unqualified applicants who
(presumably) have little chance of succeeding in the graduate program.  
This leaves a pool of applicants that is considerably larger than can be
supported, so at that point grades, recommendations, and more nebulous
factors come into play.

In most science departments, I would assume that the cutoff score for
the quantitative test would be highest, followed by the analytical and
verbal.  Most people in biology don't put much emphasis on the biology
scores, because it is so dependent on the type of coverage provided by
the undergrad courses.

I doubt that scores will increase much unless the student has little
experience taking standardized tests, which is unlikely these days.

Andrew Cockburn

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