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Universities nationwide opt to waive the GRE requirement

Many universities across the country are opting to do away with the Graduate Record Examination requirement, an assessment commonly required by graduate schools to gauge a student’s academic eligibility for the programs.

Some universities have temporarily waived the GRE, while others appeared to make it a permanent decision. Reasons cited range from COVID to equity.

The University of California at Riverside’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, for example, announced this month that it will no longer accept the GRE for consideration of their graduate program.

The College Fix reached out to university media relations, which replied with a statement from the website explaining the GRE “penalizes students from less advantaged backgrounds.”

According to the university, “published research suggests that there is little correlation between GRE scores and graduate student success.”

The university also stated that students must pay over $200 to take the GRE and need to have a stable internet connection and a webcam to take the exam, “which can deter students from less advantaged backgrounds from applying.”

“As with other standardized tests, applicants with greater financial resources can often gain an unfair advantage – by enrolling in test prep courses, and/or paying to take the GRE multiple times,” the website said.

In place of the GRE requirement, “a holistic assessment of applicants’ skills, characteristics and experiences” will be taken into account.

The change will be implemented for the “current round of graduate student applications, due in January 2021, for admission in Fall 2021.”

Likewise, the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability has scrapped the requirement, explaining on Twitter the decision was made to “eliminate financial barriers and access issues that can discourage qualified applicants.”

The two schools are far from alone.

Temporarily waiving the requirements

While some universities are completely doing away with the GRE requirements, others are temporarily doing away with the requirements in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Georgia Tech Media Relations spokesman told The Fix via email that “A small number of graduate programs have requested to temporarily waive the GRE requirement for the next academic year in light of the challenges students face from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“Those waivers would only apply for next year,” the spokesman said. “There has been no institution-wide elimination of the GRE requirement.”

Similarly, a university spokesman with the University of Florida School of Geosciences told The College Fix that department faculty “voted to waive the GRE for Fall 2021 admission due to the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of students and potential applicants.”

The spokesman said the faculty will vote later this year regarding the permanency of the decision.

The College Fix reached out to Rice University for comment. Its representatives did not respond.

MORE: Court bans University of California from considering SAT and ACT scores, citing disabled applicants

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About the Author
Maria Lencki -- Franciscan University of Steubenville