Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

GRE Doesn't Predict Grad School Success

The standardized Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test isn't a good predictor of how students will fare in graduate school, according to two studies that appeared in PLOS One last week.

In one paper, Vanderbilt University researchers examined whether GRE scores could predict students' cumulative graduate GPA, time to PhD thesis defense, or number of first-author peer-reviewed publications, among other measures of graduate school performance. Using data on 683 students who applied to the Vanderbilt Interdisciplinary Graduate Program, which covers a range of biomedical programs, the Vanderbilt team found no correlation between GRE scores and time to defense, number of presentations given, or first author publications.

Meanwhile, a team from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, looked at what parts of students' application packets did predict productivity, as determined by first-author publications and time to degree completion. With data on 280 graduate students who entered one of the 14 life sciences PhD programs at Chapel Hill, the researchers reported no correlation between GRE scores and PhD student productivity. However, they did find students with strong letters of recommendation were more likely to have multiple first-author publications.

"The new studies emphasize that admissions committees should review applicants holistically and rely less on GRE scores in making decisions — a point that many acknowledge, but which requires significant time and energy to do well," writes Maggie Kuo at Science Careers.