Philosophy Majors and the GRE 2011-2014

ETS has released data showing how well people perform on the GRE, sorted by intended area of graduate study. Once again, prospective philosophy graduate students do very well, earning the highest mean scores of students heading to any arts and humanities discipline in all three categories of the exam: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. In fact, prospective philosophy graduate students, on average, do better on the verbal reasoning and analytical writing sections than students heading towards any other area of study outside of the humanities, too. You can view the data here.

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9 years ago

Anyone know why they break the data down by intended area of graduate study rather than area of undergraduate study? I would think the latter would give a stronger correlation.

9 years ago

The question is: how much of these high averages are due to self-selection and how much of these high averages are due to the skills a rigorous philosophy curriculum provides?

One would think that a field that regularly comes under fire for having little or no practical use is mostly majored in by a motivated, self-selecting segment of college students that happen to have strong verbal and writing skills.

Philosophers do well on the LSAT, too:

9 years ago

Re: Self Selection

I think that this is definitely a place where armchair intuitions will fail us. We might just as easily assume that highly motivated and talented students would be repulsed by philosophy given its reputation and job prospects. I don’t think that this is true but we shouldn’t go on our instincts for this one.

I also agree that “intended area of study” is less helpful than “area of undergraduate study.” I would imagine that the increasingly common practice of double (and triple) majors would make that kind of data collections equally difficult.