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Archives, Opinion, Ranim Hadid

The GRE Should Be Cancelled

By Ranim Hadid
LAU Tribune staff

Photo Via Creative Commons

I am writing to argue against the GRE as an admissions’ requirement for post-graduate programs.

GRE stands for Graduate Record Examination. Students applying for master’s (excluding MBA’s) or doctoral degrees in English-speaking countries or at institutes where teaching is in English, must take it.

This exam is a combination of essay writing as well as verbal and quantitative reasoning. It is offered as a computer-based exam administered by selected testing centers.

Two months prior to my examination date, I was already on my nerves. I couldn’t believe that my chances of getting into graduate school depended on this one test. I enrolled in Amideast to take a combination of both math and English classes that prepare students for GRE and GMAT tests.

All I could think of is why a media student has to take a math test. I can see why English would be a requirement, but why math?

During my preparation, I couldn’t believe how difficult the English part of this exam was. How is an average 21-year-old supposed to know all these words? I came across words that I have never seen such as ‘connoisseur’ and ‘stymie.’ As a person whose first language is English, I found this difficult to believe.

Besides, the essay does not revolve around matters we come across on a daily basis. Questions come from various fields such as science, literature, music and even economics. It makes preparation for the test quite challenging.

Also, not only do master’s candidates take this exam but so do people applying for a PhD. As a result, the age gap among people competing could range from 20 to 40. This is important because GRE scores are based on your overall score compared to others (e.g. you did better than 70 percent of the people taking the exam). This makes it all the more difficult for a fresh graduate to really excel.

Finally, after having a series of anxiety attacks, I found myself face-to-face with the test. I walked into Amideast on Dec. 19, 2011 at 7:45 a.m., scared out of my mind for what’s to come in the next 4-5 hours.

For one of the two essays, I had to write about cloning, which I had no idea about. As I worked on the exam questions, I realized how studying for the GRE and taking it has absolutely no relation to what my future studies will consist of.

This year the grading system was changed so I wasn’t sure how well or bad I did. The scores range from 120 to 170; no one can score lower or higher. I received 140 on both math and English, which is in the 50th percentile. I didn’t understand how the scores were calculated.

For three months, I was convinced there was no way I was going to get into graduate school, but then my acceptance came. This made me realize that entrance exams such as this one do not really determine whether students qualify for programs they wish to pursue. All in all, the system should be changed.

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The official student newspaper at the Lebanese American University

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