Score one for standardized tests!

Topic(s): selection

Topic: Selection
Publication: Psychological Bulletin (2001)
Article: A comprehensive meta-analysis of the predictive validity of the graduate record examinations: Implications for graduate student selection and performance
Authors: N. R. Kuncel, S. A. Hezlett, & D. S. Ones
Reviewed By: Scott Charles Sitrin, M.A.

Have you taken the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)?  This test is like the SAT on steroids, and it, just like the SAT, is thought to predict academic achievement.  Unlike the SAT, the GRE is thought to predict academic performance in graduate school and not college.  So, if you have taken the GRE, you may be aware the bone-chilling anxiety that it can induce, as it will determine which graduate school you get into and if you get into graduate school at all.

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of taking this test, imagine working really hard in college in order to get good grades in the hopes of attending graduate school.  While your friends were at the bar, you were in a cubicle in the library next to the guy whom thinks that a bag of Sun Chips is an acceptable snack for a quiet environment.  Now, after four years of sacrifice, you have to take one more test, and the scores, at least in the eyes of some graduate programs, is more important than your academic achievement over the past four years.  For a test with such significance, the question becomes, “does it work?”

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a set of standardized tests that assess verbal, quantitative, and analytic capacities as well as knowledge of a particular field, such as psychology.  In examining its validity, Kuncel, Hezlett, and Ones performed a massive meta-analysis that analyzed 1,753 samples and over 80,000 graduate students.  They wanted to know the relationship between GRE scores and graduate school performance as indicated by graduate grade point average (GPA), 1st-year graduate GPA, scores on the comprehensive exam, number of publications, and faculty ratings.  In short, the results indicated that the GRE is a valid predictor of graduate school performance, as it had a relationship with all of the performance indicators.

In relating these results to other domains, such as business, it appears that there is a role for standardized tests in predicting performance.  What that role should be and how much reliance is placed on the instrument should be examined on a case-by-case basis.  As other studies have indicated, other variables, such as personality and intelligence, also appear to predict performance, and in an ideal setting, all of these characteristics in addition to standardized tested should be utilized in trying to predict how well someone is going to do.

Kuncel, N., Hezlett, S., & Ones, D. (2011). A comprehensive meta-analysis of the predictive validity of the graduate record examinations: Implications for graduate student selection and performance. Psychological Bulletin, 127 (1), 162-181.

human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management



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