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Dos and Don’ts When Using GRE Scores

Categories: Tips and Tricks |

In order to protect test takers and help them as they continue their education, the GRE Board has set policies and guidelines in how to use (or not use) the GRE scores. The appropriate use, as defined by GRE Board, of these test scores is for admission to graduate or business school, selection of fellowship awardees, and guidance for graduate study.

Understanding the basic use of the scores, here are some recommended guidelines to ensure fairness and confidentiality:

Do Use Multiple Criteria In Admission Processes

The GRE score alone shouldn’t determine whether a student gets into the graduate program.  Institutions weighing applicants should look at all possible criteria including undergraduate grade point average and recommendation letters.  The same diverse portfolio should be considered when awarding any fellowship grants.

Do Only Accept Official GRE Scores

In order for the scores to be ‘official’ they must go directly from the ETS to the institution or organization awarding the fellowship grant.  Any other means of obtaining the GRE scores (for instance, directly from applicant or other source) are void and should not be considered in the decision process.

Do Maintain Confidentiality At All Times

The ETS will only send official scores to select locations (an official learning institution or fellowship-granting organization) in order to keep the individual’s information secure.  That same confidentiality is expected from the institution or organization to which scores are sent.  A student’s GRE scores should not be used or sent outside of the institution for any reason and should be maintained on a need-to-know basis.

Do Use Percentile Ranks to Compare

The GRE test scores contain the test-takers percentile rank based on the previous three-year period of test-takers.  This percentile rank is a dependable way to compare applicants and candidates when they are based on the same reference population.

Don’t Compare Candidates On Inaccurate Measurements

When comparing candidates, there are a few areas to avoid as they are unfair or inaccurate ways to measure differences.  Small differences in GRE scores can fall into what the GRE Board classifies as the standard error of measurement and therefore should not be considered when comparing two closely qualified applicants.  Different test subjects should also never be compared since a high score in one subject isn’t comparable to a high score in a different subject.

Do Understand GRE Policies

While the guidelines above are recommendations for fair use, the GRE Board does have some policies that must be followed and both applicants and receiving organizations should understand those policies in order to maintain a proper GRE program.

Some of these include: only undergraduate and graduate institutions and fellowship organizations can use the scores. (exceptions to policy can be made); strictly confidential, need to know only; tests are part of reportable history for five years after the test date;

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