To test or not to test?

With so many schools moving towards wholistic applications or making the GRE optional for admission, I was curious to see what impacts the coronavirus would have on students looking to apply for graduate schools. Would they have to take the GRE? Would it be waived for this upcoming academic year?

As someone who is not a phenomenal test taker, I was secretly hoping for future students that this would be the push that many schools needed to realize that maybe the GRE is not the best indication of one’s academic ability after all. We joke in my family that it seems silly that my cousin, who just received his master’s in civil engineering had to take the same test as me, someone looking to get their masters in communication (Fun fact: he did FAR better than me on the math section, who saw that coming?).

My brother is actively in the application process to get his master’s degree and I was curious to see how this would impact him. I will admit, I was going to be a bit upset if he didn’t have to go through airport-like security for this test the way I had to. But alas, ETS came up with a new solution: at home testing.

This seemed like an easy enough solution, but after thinking about it and reading some articles on the topic I started thinking more about how does this connect to trust, and one’s privacy. In the previously linked Washington Post article, they talk about the new demand for online proctors to hold students and test-takers accountable. It seems a bit strange that someone could be hired to watch someone take a test remotely, but that seems to be a common solution as many students are finals season and college applications.

Does it seem right to allow someone access to your computer camera while in your home? Are you able to leave and use the restroom? How much trust and accountability is there – especially if one runs into technological issues?

These are all questions that I am sure students around the world are having. But another interesting question is ‘to test or not to test’? How beneficial is standardized testing as an entrance to academia? Should there be tests specific to one’s discipline, or does it make sense to have one GRE for all majors? I’m curious to read about others’ testing experiences and thoughts on the matter.

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