University of Pennsylvania Philosophy Stops Requiring the GRE


The Department of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania has decided to, at least temporarily, stop requiring applicants to its PhD program to submit GRE scores, and not take them into account even if included in applications.

Associate Professor of Philosophy Quayshawn Spencer sent along the following announcement:

The University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Philosophy will, on an experimental basis, not require PhD program applicants to submit GRE scores. For clarification, this means that we will not look at them even if an applicant submits them. The faculty reached this decision unanimously after discussing the matter.

Key factors in this decision were, first, that the GRE can be financially burdensome for low-income applicants ($205 for the general test in the USA, only 50% of which is waivable by the ETS, plus the non-waivable $27 per school to send your scores to after 4 schools) and offer unfair advantages to wealthy applicants (e.g. ETS offers a score review service for an extra fee and Kaplan offers test prep services for a fee that isn’t entirely waivable). Second, GRE scores do not, in general, accurately predict academic performance in graduate school (e.g. Q,V, & AGRE scores explain only 4.4-7.8% of graduate GPA variance according to replicated studies). Third, significant gaps in GRE performances by women and underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities made it especially difficult for them to be accepted, even though their scores sometimes dramatically underpredicted their academic performances in our program. Fourth, in our judgment, nothing of significant epistemic value was gained by our use of the GRE that we couldn’t figure out from looking at transcripts, writing samples, etc. So, women, minorities, and low-income applicants, apply to Penn philosophy! We will not discriminate against you based on an outdated, expensive, biased, and predictively invalid test. Our deadline for applications is December 15th.

If your program is taking similar steps, please let us know in the comments.

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