By Faten Omar


KUWAIT: The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) is a standardized test that is commonly required for admission to graduate programs in universities in the United States and many other countries. The GRE measures a student’s readiness for graduate-level academic work through a variety of question types.  But according to student Abdulghaphor Hajjieh, calling GRE test a math and verbal test is quite deceiving, as it tests some general knowledge, but then gets too technical, needing obscure math properties to solve some questions that have no use in real-life applications.

Speaking to Kuwait Times, the graduate student on a scholarship from Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, who was elected to the University of Kansas’ student senate as a single-issue candidate, said most prospective students either do well in the math section or the verbal section, depending on which program they’re applying to.

“GRE requires an extensive time investment, and most often private tutoring, as you do well depending on how much time you put in. Therefore, it’s not a math and verbal test, but a test of commitment, where this exam favors affluent individuals who can afford tutoring services, young people that have minimum to low social commitments such as marriage or taking care of children or elders, and individuals with low-stress jobs or unemployed individuals who can invest time studying for this laborious exam,” Hajjieh noted.

Hajjieh campaigned on making the GRE optional across all academic programs to increase accessibility to underrepresented students on campus, adding that almost all major schools have stopped using the GRE as a benchmark to check for mathematics or English language skills. “My counterargument, which I campaigned on during the student senate election, is that this exam negatively affects underrepresented and non-traditional students, as it favors young individuals with minimum commitments. So if you’re married with children or have a demanding job, most likely you won’t be able to invest enough time to study for the GRE. Furthermore, not everyone can afford to pay KD 500 a month for private tutoring,” he stressed.

Hajjieh explained that graduate program directors use this exam as an ‘initial filter’ to check for a particular skill as a proxy for their ability to keep up with their peers in the master’s/PhD program, pointing out that in 2018, an academic paper on the GRE showed data does not support the claim that doing well in the GRE necessarily means doing well in a graduate program. He affirmed there are better tools to check if a person is fit for a particular program, such as knowledge of the subject matter or grades in specific courses.