Test Review and Critique: Graduate Record Examinations: General Test (GRE) Julie L. Braley
I. General Information
The Graduate Record Examinations: General Test (GRE) is an intelligence and general aptitude test created and administered by the nonprofit organization Educational Testing Service (ETS). The GRE is a result of a study on college education funded by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in the 1930s. It gained widespread use after World War I as a way for graduate program admissions boards to assess the intellectual ability of applicants that attended various higher education institutions (ETS, 2008a). Today, the GRE is administered to over 550,000 prospective graduate students annually. More than 3,100 institutions or fellowship committees receive test results (ETS, 2008c). It serves as an objective measure of intellectual aptitude, while striving to be fair and equal, for all prospective graduate students. The GRE’s latest revision includes new question types (text completion and numeric entry) and gradual improvements (highlighted excerpts instead of numbered line references), rather than a completely revised test. The Educational Testing Service concluded that its’ testing centers could not accommodate a new GRE on its’ current testing network without jeopardizing ease and availability of testing and accuracy of reporting test scores (ETS, 2009b). II. Test Description
The GRE is a multidimensional test that measures “general scholastic ability (Kaplan & Saccuzzo, 2009)” along three scales: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Analytical Writing. These skills are considered to have developed over the course of the student’s academic career, not over a short, intense period of preparatory study before taking the GRE (ETS, 2008b). These developed skills have been identified as the most pertinent to graduate studies. “The Verbal section tests the ability to analyze and evaluate written material and synthesize information obtained from it, to analyze relationships among component parts of sentences, and to recognize relationships between words and concepts. In each test edition, there is a balance among the passages across three different subject matter areas: humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. The Quantitative section tests basic mathematical skills and understanding of elementary mathematical concepts, as well as the ability to reason quantitatively and to solve problems in a quantitative setting. There is a balance among the questions requiring arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis. The Analytical Writing section tests critical thinking and analytical writing skills. It assesses the ability to articulate and support complex ideas, analyze an argument, and sustain a focused and coherent discussion. It does not assess specific knowledge, and there is no single best way to respond (ETS, 2009c).”
Sternberg and Williams suggest that the theoretical foundation of the GRE rests on the triarchic theory of human intelligence, which consists of academic-analytical, synthetic-creative and practical-contextual aspects of human abilities (1997). Analytical tasks include “analyzing, judging, evaluating, comparing and contrasting, and critiquing; creative tasks involve creating, inventing, discovering, imagining, and supposing; and practical tasks involve implementing, using, applying, and seeking relevance (Sternberg, Torff and Grigorenko, 1998). These skills are indeed required by a successful graduate student. The GRE empirically measures some of these skills, especially analytical skills, and directs admissions boards to find evidence of those missing in their remaining eligibility requirements. Purpose of Test
The GRE is intended for students interested in pursuing a graduate degree; its’ purpose is to assist graduate program admissions...