GRE administered by ETS is a standardised test required for admission into graduate programmes in the US and Canada.
The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), a standardized test that is an admissions requirement for a majority of graduate schools in the US and Canada, has seen a fee rise of 3.9 percent.
In an interaction with Moneycontrol, Alberto Acereda, Executive Director of Higher Education at the Global Education Division, Educational Testing Service (ETS) said competitors have also raised prices.
ETS administers the GRE examinations for institutions worldwide.
Acereda said some graduate programmes are evaluating their admission processes to ensure that their processes and practices are fair to applicants and are effective in helping them identify which candidates are the right fit.
“The cost of the exam increased by 3.9 percent and is $213. In contrast, our competitors have raised the cost of their online exam – from $200 to $250 to reflect the price of their tests in testing centres,” said Acereda.
He added that the cost increase for the exam was due to the fact that ETS reviews test fees worldwide on a regular basis and adjusts fees when necessary.
According to him, it is unavoidable for ETS to occasionally increase its fees because of increased costs, including the introduction of local taxes.
Lockdown leading to flexibility in admissions
Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, a few educational institutes in the US are likely to waive off the requirement of GRE for 2020. This is to make the admission process simpler for international students during the pandemic.
Acereda explained that graduate programmes are offering greater flexibility to applicants during this admissions’ cycle due to various challenges that candidates are facing during the pandemic.
“In some cases, programmes are being more lenient regarding the submission of test scores, the number of letters of recommendation and the acceptance of pass/fail grades. Still others are waiving application fees and providing other financial accommodations,” he said.
Currently, Acereda said, ETS is working with deans, faculty members, and admissions officers to better understand what services can be provided.
Standardised test scores for admissions
At present, there is a debate in the education community about the need to have standardised tests as an admission requirement into higher education programmes.
However, Acereda said test scores provide useful information about critical skills needed for success in graduate study, and they serve as the only research-based, objective measure among many subjective pieces of information.
“But over the years and against ETS’s urging, many graduate programmes came to over-rely on test scores as an easy way to make quick decisions. They disregarded other pieces of information to the detriment of candidates who perhaps had many other qualities that the programme would consider important. And the resultant process was less fair,” he added.
ETS has launched a specific website on holistic admissions and is now providing virtual learning session to individual institutions and through graduate education organizations.
GRE test taking from home
Since classes have gone virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so have standardised tests like GRE. Acereda said ETS has brought a remote solution of the GRE test that will employ multiple security measures.
This will use both real-time human monitoring and artificial intelligence technology. According to him, more than 183,000 students from 156 countries have already registered to take the GRE General Test at home.
He said the at-home test has the same content, format, and scoring as the one taken at a test centre.
“One new feature is that students can select from numerous test times each week to find a time that is most conducive to their schedule, as the test is available 24 hours a day, seven days per week,” said Acereda.