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[Phys-L] GRE worse than useless

"Multi-institutional study of GRE scores as predictors of STEM PhD degree completion: GRE gets a low mark"
October 29, 2018
Sandra L. Petersen,
Evelyn S. Erenrich,
Dovev L. Levine,
Jim Vigoreaux,
Krista Gile


The process of selecting students likely to complete science,
technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) doctoral programs has
not changed greatly over the last few decades and still relies
heavily on Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores in most U.S.
universities. It has been long debated whether the GRE is an
appropriate selection tool and whether overreliance on GRE scores may
compromise admission of students historically underrepresented in
STEM. Despite many concerns about the test, there are few studies
examining the efficacy of the GRE in predicting PhD completion and
even fewer examining this question in STEM fields. For the present
study, we took advantage of a long-lived collaboration among
institutions in the Northeast Alliance for Graduate Education and the
Professoriate (NEAGEP) to gather comparable data on GRE scores and
PhD completion for 1805 U.S./Permanent Resident STEM doctoral
students in four state flagship institutions. We found that GRE
Verbal (GRE V) and GRE Quantitative (GRE Q) scores were similar for
women who completed STEM PhD degrees and those who left programs.
Remarkably, GRE scores were significantly higher for men who left
than counterparts who completed STEM PhD degrees. In fact, men in the
lower quartiles of GRE V or Q scores finished degrees more often than
those in the highest quartile. This pattern held for each of the four
institutions in the study and for the cohort of male engineering
students across institutions. GRE scores also failed to predict time
to degree or to identify students who would leave during the first
year of their programs. Our results suggests that GRE scores are not
an effective tool for identifying students who will be successful in
completing STEM doctoral programs. Considering the high cost of
attrition from PhD programs and its impact on future leadership for
the U.S. STEM workforce, we suggest that it is time to develop more
effective and inclusive admissions strategies.


As always, it's good practice to pull the string to see who's been
citing that work in the year and a half since it came out:

That leads to things like this:

I personally have been very skeptical of GRE scores since forever.
Even so, I know they sing a very seductive siren song. At some
emotional level the temptation is to assume they mean "something"
even though logic and long experience tell me they are not a
good measure of anything I care about.