GRE Snacks 3 – Does the GRE have a racist origin?

Tyler York
GRE Snacks

Where did the GRE come from and why does it exist? The answer may surprise you. Orion, Achievable’s GRE author and founder of StellarGRE, walks us through the history of the GRE exam and the motivations universities had for requiring it at various times in the last century.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive course to maximize your score on the GRE exam, check out Achievable’s GRE course that was authored by Orion.

GRE Snacks 3 – Does the GRE have a racist origin? transcript:

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 Welcome to GRE snacks short approachable and insightful episodes about the GRE exam and graduate school admissions. I'm Tyler the founder of achievable an author of achievable GRE course great. Let's get started. So for today's episode we're going to be talking about basically how the GRE came to be like the origin story behind the test. You feel like it's helpful contacts, right? Why is it important for students to know? I think it's really important because it really helps to hammer home the belief that and when you understand more fully the evolution of this test, you can see it's antagonistic relationship to the people who took it and how that is evolves through time. I actually just a really interesting story about America.
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 eah, well here.
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 it is an intuitive question because
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 it's been well-researched that the GRE doesn't really correlate with much of anything that could be of use to graduate school admissions officers. Like for example scores for the GRE don't really correlate with attrition rate. So it's not like a high GRE score could be used by admissions officers to predict who's going to like stick it out and actually successfully graduate from doesn't even really poorly all too. Well with undergrad GPA is because so much can happen between undergrad and grad school. Sometimes folks you kind of just messed around and undergrad, you know, they go through your five years later they get their stuff together and they're taking us tablets are much more serious students in making Square much more highly. So the GRE doesn't really correlate with any kind of successful academic metric. So why does it exist? It's basically a test that measures itself. Why is it there?
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 But understand why is there we got to go back like a hundred years to World War 1 and World War rated all kinds of problems for United States including United States military back. Then there was a mandatory what's it called where you could be called up into active duty. Oh, I can scription option program. And if you're a man who lives in America, you know that you had to register with the Selective Service organization when you're 18 do still exist, but we don't have the Manpower a draft but back then we did and if your number got called up you are going to war buddy. And so here's the issue the US Army now had hundreds of thousands of these new recruits and then
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 I need a way to very quickly and reliably sort out those who had officer Potential from those who were just going to be the enlisted servicemen. And so the US Army approached the very young at the time American Psychological Association to produce a test that the Army could use to reliably sort their recruits. This is one of the Pas big early victories and so the APA in a shrink's went away for awhile. They came up with a test that they called the Army Alpha and it was basically a test to see who could lead and who was going to follow the Army took the test used it for a few years. I think for a few months actually threw it out and went back to the APA and said your test doesn't work were failing the test.
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 This is really interesting because never in the history of the military I've ever heard an army complain that they had too many soldiers, but too few people were passing the test to become officers. And so it was a failed test from the Army's respected. Now I say this because if you think the stakes are high with respect to graduate school admissions, imagine what it was with respect to this test back in the day, like it really determines where you are relative to the bullet, you know, Lexi Soldier.
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 So the Army actually threw that out and it went back to the APA set on the shelf for a while until World War but people are starting to get a little wise to hey this this is kind of feel good that we're just going to force people to fight against their will, but they sweeten the deal with something called the GI bill which basically said that if we drafted you and you fought for America and you came back alive, Uncle Sam would bankroll your college education.
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 This weekend, you know 1940s and into the 50s huge deal Tyler because up until then most Americans didn't graduate high school. It was actually a big deal to graduate high school back in the day in like nobody went to college.
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 The only folks who went to college where rich white men. That's that's actually the facts. You know, it took a long time to desegregate right and like the 50s or even that long ago was the craziest.
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 so
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 back, then they were they were much you were universities as well because obviously there was a smaller customer base for undergraduate education GI Bill America went off one that wore to go America and the soldiers came back and said, okay Uncle Sam make on your progress. I want to go to college and suddenly.
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 Academic institutions this country. We're like whoa! Whoa. Whoa, wait a minute. We can't just let anybody up in here. We have standards, you know, we can't look like the people that we usually cater to that's some problems and the tough luck if the child is white. Okay, okay, but we reserve the right to evaluate the academic preparedness of these Veterans for service in American universities and Congress it okay. That sounds fair.
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 Do you want to have high academic standards as well? So what these universities did was they took that old army Alpha test off the shelf that their fathers who fought in World War 1 couldn't pass.
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 They spit up a little bit and that became the SAT Army also, which was used to which was a failed test that was given to recruits and they the same educational level generation prior. So this was a really sneaky and totally legally defensible way for Academia to sort of discriminate against working class or non white male applicants.
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 In fact the first University to require the sat with Princeton and that's the origin of the Princeton Review which is one of the major test prep companies is it was an organization that was designed to help students pass a Princeton admissions test, which became widely adopted by universities in general because whatever the eye really does every University wants me to ivy league universities are going to copy what they do. There's no Stanford in the same way. There is now explosion enrollment in higher education and that became even a different problem because you got to put yourself kind of in the in the space of some of these admissions officers. You actually have a pretty tough problem it it must be tough to beat admissions officer actually cuz you got
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 Hundreds and hundreds of people who are generally very intelligent hard-working ambitious young people who are trying really hard and many of whom would make perfectly fine students at this University and you have to say no sometimes to 19 out of 20 of those people. You don't feel good afterwards you do great in this day in age because it's very difficult for us so much. The stakes are so high. We live in such a litigious Society turn somebody down because they always run the risk of saying what why did turn me down because of my race is it because of my gender is because if my ethnic origin some other demographic variable and that's as it should be illegal. So graduate schools actually need ways to reject people in Legally defensible ways, because think about the rest of your application.
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 GRE score your GPA the basket. What is a true statement of purpose essay letters of recommendation is all very subjective and personal which is basically a lawsuit waiting to happen for the reason that the GRE exist today as well. As a lot of these other programs are tests. Like the SAT is it gives schools in Legally defensible way to reject otherwise qualified applicants great and it's actually it's actually like it mirror is a lot of what I saw so I went I went to a prep school for high school and they for college admissions the college counselor literally had a chart or on what axis was the GPA the other access was SAT score and you could see and then they had different dots they have like a square a circle in a rectangle for admitted wait-listed and rejected and you can see the cutoff line like really obviously for each University.
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 And that was my first taste of this certain that they have to apply kind of objectively inconsistently to also avoid getting sued cuz it's one thing to say. Hey if your numbers are too high, but if they apply those numbers in consistently Tavares applicants that's going to cause lawsuits as well. So I think that's that's really interesting because again it help students appreciate this test is not your friend wants you to fail this test is wonderful for grad schools because it lets them say no to you without getting sued or feeling that it's the easiest way for grad schools to just say no to over 50% of their applicants. This number was too low. So at the end of the day hate to say this, but the best possible outcome on Thursday with the GRE is not the securement of a positive outcome has come to me and they say are you know, my GPA was kind of low. I didn't really take it seriously.
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 I do really well on the GRE. It's not really true because think about it's hard to undo four years of you know academics ends with a 4-Hour test. They got waited to say right. So the best outcome is not the security deposit. It's the avoidance of a negative we're going to do all this work to dodge a bullet because nobody gets into grad school because the GRE but lots of people are kept out because the GRE personally I got a perfect score on the GRE. I was still rejected by more programs that I even got invited to interview. That's just the way the game to a perfect score is not like a golden ticket into the Chocolate Factory. It's just a way past the first if so that the admissions officers will actually look more closely at your application to determine goodness of fit goodness of fit actually help people get into grad school Reddit. We can talk more about that another episode.
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 It's fascinating because if you know how it works, you can really make choices to play to your strengths there. Definitely is a right way and a wrong way to apply to grad school. And the good news is that 97% of people are going to do it the wrong way. So if you can demonstrate that you're one of those 3% they're going to be falling out of their chairs to get you at their program the time today. This is wrapping up another episode of Jerry snacks, and we'll see you guys again soon.
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