Graduate program admissions require diligence from prospective students and institutions. Colleges and universities must vet candidates, and students want to present their authentic selves while appearing attractive in their application materials.
Admissions staff reviews grade point averages, work experience, and previous education, such as undergraduate coursework and certifications. Additionally, students provide statements of purpose to detail why they want to study in a particular program and how their attendance can benefit themselves and the institution.
To ensure students and programs have the right fit, admissions teams can consider all of these factors to determine qualifications and alignment with candidate goals. Moreover, many graduate admittance boards examine scores from third-party tests to help determine which students to admit. One such test is the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE).
What is the GRE?
The GRE was created by the Educational Testing Service to serve as a standardized exam for individuals hoping to enter a graduate program. According to the ETS website, the GRE is designed to be flexible; it can help evaluate applicants for majors such as business and law.
The GRE is broken up into three primary focus areas of testing:
- Analytical Writing: Scores critical writing skills by testing the applicant’s ability to articulately frame and support an argument. This includes identifying factual, relevant sources to lay a foundation of evidence-based reasoning. Basic elements like sentence structure and grammar are also scrutinized.
- Quantitative Reasoning: Measures how well the applicant understands and processes mathematical questions and figures. Those taking this section of the exam will need strong skills in operations such as algebra and geometry. The goal of this test segment is to understand how well an applicant can think rationally and break complex quantitative problems down into basic parts.
- Verbal Reasoning: The applicant will be verbally asked to analytically break down and rationalize conclusions from incomplete data. They will also be asked to process speaker intent on multiple levels, figurative and literal. Applicants will also be expected to accurately summarize written information, identifying key themes and major points of emphasis. This segment of the test explores the relationship between word usage and concept visualization.
With these three segments, the proponents of the GRE believe it can evaluate and measure a person’s reasoning skills in mathematical and literary processes. It is intended to give its applicants a sample of the level of thinking they will be expected to perform throughout their graduate studies. For colleges and universities, the GRE provides standardized scores to aid in evaluating applicants.
Why does Regis not require the GRE?
While some universities use the GRE test as a basis for admittance, Regis College’s online Master of Public Health program does not. This is not a negative reflection on the GRE itself, but rather a differing opinion on the value of standardized testing in determining applicant worth.
For Regis College’s Master of Public Health program, admittance officers fully examine every applicant’s qualifications and background. You will be evaluated on your undergraduate history, extracurricular activities, professional life, and any other academic or outside accomplishments you may have already earned.
While Regis College sees the benefits of standardized testing, research has raised concerns about the validity of the GRE. One literature review from the Council of Graduate Schools cited the typical disparities in scores that can occur among certain demographics. For instance, men tend to score higher than women, and racial minorities often score lower than white participants. Furthermore, the exam may underpredict African-American student success, with the ETS itself citing its validity test sample sizes for such groups as being small.
In addition, to help applicants perform, the GRE allows its participants to send only select scores to universities. Called ScoreSelect, this service was designed in part to keep applicants from being discouraged by a bad testing session. However, this method could arguably also skew the data and present higher scores than Regis College could otherwise expect during a course load.
Why does this matter for MPH applicants?
Taking the GRE requires scheduling, not just for study sessions but for the test itself. While the ETS does a good job of making the GRE widely available (the exam has over 1,000 testing locations), you can still need to travel a considerable distance to take the test. Add to this the fact that you can only take the GRE on certain days and the exam becomes an event that must be carefully planned.
Another factor is cost. According to the official webpage, taking the GRE costs $205, plus any additional registration fees. Those applying to the Master of Public Health at Regis College can save these funds, using them instead for books or other learning materials.
The GRE is a well-designed tool for assessing an individual’s knowledge and thinking skills. However, Regis College has decided to rely on its own appraisal methods to determine which students are eligible for its Master of Public Health program. Please keep in mind that anyone applying for this graduate program will still need to submit records of all undergraduate degrees, grade point averages, professional experience, and any other relevant qualifications.
Each applicant will be evaluated thoroughly and judged on individual merits. You may still choose to take the GRE if you wish to test yourself, but it will not impact your chances of entering Regis College’s Master of Public Health program.