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PhD/PsyD #GRExit - faculty opinions

just_a_cigar

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Hi all -

Because of the evolving impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on standardized testing, many clinical psychology programs are beginning to make the general and subject GRE optional for the coming application cycle. There has been much discussion on Grad Cafe and Reddit about what this means for applicants, but most of us joining the discussion are applicants and I worry we aren't getting information from the folks who understand the true impact of this decision - faculty and those on admissions committees.

My questions to those of you who are faculty is: has your university decided to waive the GRE/Psych GRE requirement, or make submission of scores optional? Despite this decision, will faculty and admissions committees still use GRE scores provided to make key interview or admissions decisions? How do you see this influencing future application cycles (i.e. do you think waiving the requirement this year will result in more programs removing the GRE altogether)? Lastly, if the reporting of scores is optional, do you believe your university will allow for unofficial score reports to be submitted (one of the drawbacks of the GRE is the asinine cost of sending score reports, $27 per report)?

I really appreciate any feedback I can get, even from postdocs or current students about what the removal of the GRE could signify for this application cycle and beyond. I'm also interested to hear if you believe the GRE has important utility that may be lost if the GRE was removed as an application requirement.

Thank you.
 
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WisNeuro

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I was actually just discussing this with some academic friends last week. It's been mixed who does and doe snot waive the GRE. Some of them think that the unintended consequences will outweigh some of the proposed benefits of eliminating GRE. In essence, they mentioned that the GRE can buoy an application that may not be as strong in terms of having research exposure and posters/pubs. So now, if we don't have that, we reward people who have strong connections with productive labs, time spent in those labs (often unpaid), and opportunities to travel to conferences and such. So, one possible outcome would be people who have more resources, and access to those resources, would be EVEN MORE favored without this.

Tough to say as this is just starting out. I'd be curious to see some data once some of these programs have had a decent amount of time with the decision.
 
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DynamicDidactic

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I've never been a fan of the subject GRE. I can't imagine it provides any incremental validity compared to the GRE. I hope that dies.

Otherwise, I am curious how this will work out. When I was a student and served on the committee for new applicants, I do not remember GRE scores every being discussed. Although, I am sure faculty individually took them into consideration but after that step it was no longer a topic.
 
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psych.meout

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I've never been a fan of the subject GRE. I can't imagine it provides any incremental validity compared to the GRE. I hope that dies.

Otherwise, I am curious how this will work out. When I was a student and served on the committee for new applicants, I do not remember GRE scores every being discussed. Although, I am sure faculty individually took them into consideration but after that step it was no longer a topic.
This is a limited sample size, but I know from my program and several others attended by friends that the GRE scores are sometimes used as a tiebreaker between otherwise comparable applicants. Part of the rationale is that there are university-wide fellowships eligible for the applicant with the higher GRE scores, meaning that students would get more funding (the fellowship stipend is usually higher than the department stipend) and the program would have lighter financial obligations for the student. Some current students I know noted that their faculty argued that the GRE was a good way to see the applicants' general standardized testing skills, which would come into play later for the EPPP.
 
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bookwormpsych

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IIRC the GRE has poor predictive validity so good riddance. But, uh, I'm also not in a role where I would make admissions decisions.

From an applicant perspective as well, I would be more than happy with this LOL

When I was applying to graduate school the first time (Master's) I was completely ill-prepared. I honestly did not even know what a GRE was. I knew it was similar to an SAT, or so I thought. So, I scheduled and took it the next week. Without studying. My quantitative score was CRAP. I feel this in no way represents my ability to take standardized tests (because I was able to pass the EPPP) or performance in graduate school. I graduated my program with a 3.9 (B in statistics). So, for me personally... go on GET, GRE. Otherwise I'm going to have to spend the stupid amount of money it takes to retake the darn thing :(

But, again, that's my personal preference. I always thought those type of tests were dumb. But I'm not the person/people making admission decisions either.
 
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BuckeyeLove

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Wasn't the argument always "Well, the GRE might not be the best, but it legit does say who will succeed in grad school?" At least I remember that being promulgated a ton around 2008 when I was applying to schools. I honestly don't think I would've gotten into programs had it not been for the GRE, as I didn't get started in labs until the beginning of my senior year (....I had a super senior year as well...it was glorious).
 
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beginner2011

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I know I put a fair bit of weight on GRE-AW when I was considering applicants to my advisor's lab. Nothing more frustrating than co-authoring a paper with another student whose writing is poor. To my mind, it's hard to imagine better indicators of quality of independent writing than the GRE-AW. There are undoubtedly tons of flaws with standardized testing as a barrier to educational attainment, but scores are something to consider nonetheless (in my opinion).

GRE-V and GRE-AW sections are related to first semester and first year GPA in doctoral programs (1). GRE-V and GRE-Q predict long-term success in academia (2).

(1) https://www.researchgate.net/public...ised_General_Test_in_a_Singaporean_University
(2) https://www.researchgate.net/public...raduate_school_A_collaborative_validity_study

Brief summary from (1):

A wealth of research exists that documents the predictive validity of standardized tests for use in admissions to US graduate programs. Kuncel and Hezlett (2007) conducted a comprehensive review of standardized tests representing a variety of disciplines, such as business, law, medicine, pharmacy, and other domains, and concluded that standardized test scores will predict a wide range of performance outcomes, including GPA, degree attainment, licensing examination performance, research productivity, and faculty evaluation. Among the standardized tests, the earlier version of the GRE is one of the most widely used and researched programs. The scores have been required by more than 90% of the doctoral programs and more than 80% of the master's programs in the United States (Norcross, Hanych, & Terranova, 1996). GRE scores are also often used to facilitate decisions about fellowships and other types of financial awards (Rock & Adler, 2014).

Research to date has used a common set of criteria when investigating predictive validity of the previous version of the GRE. These criteria include (a) GPA, both first year and cumulative; (b) comprehensive examination performance; (c) faculty rating of students; (d) research productivity (publications, conference presentations, and citation counts); and (e) degree attainment and time to degree completion (e.g., Enright & Gitomer, 1989; Kuncel et al., 2001, Kuncel et al., 2010; Powers, 2004; Powers & Fowles, 2000).
 
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cara susanna

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I know I put a fair bit of weight on GRE-AW when I was considering applicants to my advisor's lab. Nothing more frustrating than co-authoring a paper with another student whose writing is poor. To my mind, it's hard to imagine better indicators of quality of independent writing than the GRE-AW. There are undoubtedly tons of flaws with standardized testing as a barrier to educational attainment, but scores are something to consider nonetheless (in my opinion).

There is evidence the GRE-V and GRE-AW sections are related to first semester and first year GPA in doctoral programs (1). There's also evidence that GRE-V and GRE-Q predict long-term success in academia (2).

(1) https://www.researchgate.net/public...ised_General_Test_in_a_Singaporean_University
(2) https://www.researchgate.net/public...raduate_school_A_collaborative_validity_study

Brief summary from (1):

Then why do they place so much emphasis on Quant? Or at least they did when I applied.
 
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just_a_cigar

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I was actually just discussing this with some academic friends last week. It's been mixed who does and doe snot waive the GRE. Some of them think that the unintended consequences will outweigh some of the proposed benefits of eliminating GRE. In essence, they mentioned that the GRE can buoy an application that may not be as strong in terms of having research exposure and posters/pubs. So now, if we don't have that, we reward people who have strong connections with productive labs, time spent in those labs (often unpaid), and opportunities to travel to conferences and such. So, one possible outcome would be people who have more resources, and access to those resources, would be EVEN MORE favored without this.

Tough to say as this is just starting out. I'd be curious to see some data once some of these programs have had a decent amount of time with the decision.
Interesting, I never thought of the unintended consequences of removing the GRE and creating even more gaps between students with differing resources available. Certainly something to monitor.

I know I put a fair bit of weight on GRE-AW when I was considering applicants to my advisor's lab. Nothing more frustrating than co-authoring a paper with another student whose writing is poor. To my mind, it's hard to imagine better indicators of quality of independent writing than the GRE-AW. There are undoubtedly tons of flaws with standardized testing as a barrier to educational attainment, but scores are something to consider nonetheless (in my opinion).

GRE-V and GRE-AW sections are related to first semester and first year GPA in doctoral programs (1). GRE-V and GRE-Q predict long-term success in academia (2).

(1) https://www.researchgate.net/public...ised_General_Test_in_a_Singaporean_University
(2) https://www.researchgate.net/public...raduate_school_A_collaborative_validity_study

Brief summary from (1):
I can understand placing emphasis on the AW and V sections of the GRE, especially in academia where publishing is crucial. Quant, I'm a little less convinced. I think, depending on the area of study, the math tested on the GRE doesn't quite translate to math knowledge expected in psychology (ex. Stats are what is most commonly used, yet questions about stats are a small proportion of questions on the test). I also might just be a bit salty because I consider myself to be decent at stats, but my quant score left something to be desired as I struggled with things like geometry (yuck).
Nevertheless, interesting that research has shown the positive effects of including the GRE. I only ever hear folks talking about data that suggests the GRE is useless. Will definitely give those a read.
 
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Skye18

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I know I put a fair bit of weight on GRE-AW when I was considering applicants to my advisor's lab. Nothing more frustrating than co-authoring a paper with another student whose writing is poor. To my mind, it's hard to imagine better indicators of quality of independent writing than the GRE-AW. There are undoubtedly tons of flaws with standardized testing as a barrier to educational attainment, but scores are something to consider nonetheless (in my opinion).

This is an interesting take, I don't often hear of labs putting much emphasis on the writing score. Perhaps ironically, my AW score was by far the best of my three - is scoring in one of the highest percentiles something that a considerable portion of PIs would notice? Would that remotely help offset lack of pubs?
 
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beginner2011

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This is an interesting take, I don't often hear of labs putting much emphasis on the writing score. Perhaps ironically, my AW score was by far the best of my three - is scoring in one of the highest percentiles something that a considerable portion of PIs would notice? Would that remotely help offset lack of pubs?

I would say no. My weighting was related to my own idiosyncratic desires as a graduate student, and only came into play as a tie-breaker when making my personal rank-order among already extremely accomplished applicants. I will say that I don't remember any other graduate students or my advisor ever so much as mentioning the scores in our discussions.
 
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Justanothergrad

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It's tough. when it comes to metrics to evaluate applicants, there are very few good ones.

GRE - predicts GPA during first year of grad school but that doesnt really matter if its passing

GPA - Everyone has a 3.5+ basically and small variation differences may reflect school patterns that I don't know

Research - best predictor but disadvantages non traditional students and those from small colleges without major research labs

Written materials - interesting and can provide opportunities for personalized matching but hard to verify or read into too much because of feedback from others

Interview - just sucks

Given this, I dont want to exclude a metric that may provide some applicants a way to demonstrate capacity. If I didnt use that it would entirely be written match to lab and research output like national posters, which would limit some folks. I dont weed purely by GRE so it doesnt kneecap people.
 
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BuckeyeLove

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and those from small colleges without major research labs

I've always wondered how students from programs such as these get into funded programs with labs. As I said above, I didn't get involved with labs until my 4th year of undergrad, and I had a plethora of opportunities because of the size of the department which allowed me to be competitive in 2 years time. How do students at smaller schools do this?
 
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Skye18

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I've always wondered how students from programs such as these get into funded programs with labs. As I said above, I didn't get involved with labs until my 4th year of undergrad, and I had a plethora of opportunities because of the size of the department which allowed me to be competitive in 2 years time. How do students at smaller schools do this?

I came from such an undergrad, can confirm it's been hell since. Some of my peers are doing fine, in good positions or decent programs, but it appears to be far more of a toss-up than it should be. Some things you can only see in hindsight. I'd (metaphorically) give a limb to be given the opportunity to have a meaningful part of a well-funded and productive lab, much less one that is specific to my own research interests. Shout-out for the shared forensic interests! I hope to specialize in forensic assessment in the future.
 
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psych.meout

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I've always wondered how students from programs such as these get into funded programs with labs. As I said above, I didn't get involved with labs until my 4th year of undergrad, and I had a plethora of opportunities because of the size of the department which allowed me to be competitive in 2 years time. How do students at smaller schools do this?
I went to a tiny undergrad and all my research experience came from an RA job after I graduated.
 
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Interesting to hear everyone's perspectives and experiences. I haven't been involved in grad admissions in some time - my academic time is spent with undergrads these days, but when I was, our program used it as one of the initial cutoffs with GPA to eliminate of some of the lower tier applications early on, then it never really came up again.
 
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thebalmofhurtminds

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I've always wondered how students from programs such as these get into funded programs with labs. As I said above, I didn't get involved with labs until my 4th year of undergrad, and I had a plethora of opportunities because of the size of the department which allowed me to be competitive in 2 years time. How do students at smaller schools do this?
My small school still had a psychology department with research opportunities, it was just a smaller scale. I applied for opportunities like Psi Chi grants and REU summer internships. Also I'm sure my GRE helped, oops.
 
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cara susanna

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I didn't have access to a major research lab or a lot of publication opportunities* AND I was terrible at the GRE (minus verbal, but apparently no one cares about that in clinical psych programs). I also made sure to apply to programs without a GRE cutoff, though.

*The lab I was in did focus on an area of research that was trendy and up and coming at the time, so I think that helped
 
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Mojito_15

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As an applicant- I came from a small public school and had 0 research experience when I applied to my doctoral program straight out of undergrad. But I had good GRE scores- so it was a helpful exam to me. I got funded GRA positions based on my quant scores, which I know because I was told so in my interview.

As a current prof of a small public school with only a masters/specialist program, we do not require GRE's or interviews, and often we'll waive letters of rec if you have a 3.0 GPA. You just need an undergrad transcript, a resume and a statement of interest. I wish we did require the GRE or at least had some sort of additional restrictions on admissions. The uni admin push us for larger enrollments, we have to write up an explanation each time we reject an applicant which is reviewed and we can be forced to admit anyway, and thus about 1/3 of my students shouldn't be in graduate school at all.

On the other hand- we do also have the most diverse program in the state, with several bilingual students. Some of our applicants are very good and likely wouldn't have gotten in anywhere else. So I recognize the pros and cons.
 
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Justanothergrad

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I've always wondered how students from programs such as these get into funded programs with labs. As I said above, I didn't get involved with labs until my 4th year of undergrad, and I had a plethora of opportunities because of the size of the department which allowed me to be competitive in 2 years time. How do students at smaller schools do this?
I did a research-focused phd feeder masters first. Others I've known did the same or took gap years.
 
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DynamicDidactic

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As an applicant- I came from a small public school and had 0 research experience when I applied to my doctoral program straight out of undergrad. But I had good GRE scores- so it was a helpful exam to me. I got funded GRA positions based on my quant scores, which I know because I was told so in my interview.

As a current prof of a small public school with only a masters/specialist program, we do not require GRE's or interviews, and often we'll waive letters of rec if you have a 3.0 GPA. You just need an undergrad transcript, a resume and a statement of interest. I wish we did require the GRE or at least had some sort of additional restrictions on admissions. The uni admin push us for larger enrollments, we have to write up an explanation each time we reject an applicant which is reviewed and we can be forced to admit anyway, and thus about 1/3 of my students shouldn't be in graduate school at all.

On the other hand- we do also have the most diverse program in the state, with several bilingual students. Some of our applicants are very good and likely wouldn't have gotten in anywhere else. So I recognize the pros and cons.
How large are your cohorts? How large is the attrition rate?
 
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PsychPhDone

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I've always wondered how students from programs such as these get into funded programs with labs. As I said above, I didn't get involved with labs until my 4th year of undergrad, and I had a plethora of opportunities because of the size of the department which allowed me to be competitive in 2 years time. How do students at smaller schools do this?
I went to a small undergraduate only college and while I got great research experience, it was in social psych. I worked as a postbac RA for 2 years. Nearly everyone in my grad cohort did
 
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Mojito_15

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How large are your cohorts? How large is the attrition rate?

We don't operate in a cohort model- students come and go when they want to, most only take 2-3 classes a semester. But we usually bring in about 30-40 students a year, most classes I teach have 20-30 students. I'd say on average I'd guess we lose about 8 a year. None of our students are funded. The vast majority of our students are local and work full time, taking our classes on the side.
 
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