ERIC Number: EJ714070
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Jun-1
Perceptions of International Students toward Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
Mupinga, Emily E.; Mupinga, Davison M.
College Student Journal, v39 n2 p402 Jun 2005
The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is an aptitude test, thought to reflect intelligence or the capacity to learn (Larsen & Buss, 2003). It is a standardized admission exam designed to predict performance in graduate school through verbal, quantitative, and analytical reasoning questions. The GRE Board encourages graduate schools, departments, and fellowship selection committees to consider GRE scores as a meaningful source of information about an applicant's chance for success in graduate school Most international students do not get a good score on the verbal section of the GRE especially those with English as a second, third, or even fourth language. From an international student's perspective, it would seem unfair that the GRE Board and US graduate school committees expect international students to have the same degree of English language proficiency as native English-speakers, and to have GRE scores that are not significantly different from native speakers. The main purpose of this study was to establish the perceptions of international students toward GRE, specifically, issues with the purpose, structure, and content of the verbal section of the examination. Data for the qualitative study were collected through formal and informal interviews of students admitted to different graduate programs at Louisiana State University in spring 2003. The seven students comprised three from commonwealth countries; one from francophone country; two from Asia, and one from an English speaking country. Among the main issues with the exam were the content and context of the questions. The students felt the exam was very hard and tested them on unfamiliar concepts. With some English words, translation into foreign languages is somewhat difficult such that more time is spent in choosing the appropriate meaning. Another student from a third world country gave the following example on sentence completion, "In relation to computers, a mouse is--." At face value, that question looks easy; right? "Not to an international student who might not have seen, let alone, used a computer throughout her/his undergraduate program ... In my country, for example, some universities have no computers for use by students, and so students graduating from such universities [assuming they have not been exposed to computers elsewhere] would probably refer to mouse as "a rodent." The international students interviewed felt that GRE verbal section is culturally biased against international students, and that in general, it does not measure the cognitive capacity to perform well in graduate school. Unfortunately, for the prospective graduate international students, standardized testing like GRE is not going away any time soon, but questioning its bias and relevance may be beneficial in that revisions or accommodations may be done to make it more equitable.
Descriptors: Intelligence, Aptitude Tests, Graduate Students, Graduate Study, Foreign Students, Student Attitudes, Interviews, English (Second Language), Language Proficiency, Test Bias, Cultural Differences, Verbal Ability
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Graduate Record Examinations