More Changes Ahead for the GRE Test

The 'Personal Potential Index' is slated to start in July 2009.

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What does it take to excel in grad school? Critics of standardized testing have long complained that the Graduate Record Exam doesn't measure some of the other essential ingredients for grad school success. The Educational Testing Service plans to address those concerns by introducing a new GRE component. Scheduled to debut in July 2009, the "Personal Potential Index" is designed to measure skills like communication, organization, and integrity.

The new index will require professors or supervisors of the student's choice to evaluate students on a scale of 1 to 5 in six areas: knowledge and creativity, communication skills, teamwork, planning and organization, ethics and integrity, and resilience. ETS has been careful not to overburden professors, emphasizing that the index should take only 15 minutes to fill out.

The index will be bundled with the rest of the test and will be optional—unless specific graduate schools start requiring it—but the higher price tag will not be. The fee for the test, which currently costs $140 in the United States and is taken by about 600,000 people each year, is expected to increase $10 to $15 once the index is implemented.

Some of the test's critics may be mollified by this broader approach to evaluation. But critics in the Orwellian tradition might worry that ETS is overstepping its bounds in attempting to measure not just aptitude but character. What will it measure next?