California Universities Keep Certain Graduate Entrance Exams Optional

By Alice Sun
Alice Sun
Alice Sun
September 17, 2021 Updated: September 17, 2021

Many college graduate programs in California kept the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) score optional, or did not accept scores for the 2021-22 admissions cycle.

GRE, offered by Educational Testing Service (ETS), is one of the most well-known standardized tests required for the graduate admission process in the United States, Canada, and a few other countries. The GRE general test is designed to supplement the undergraduate records, recommendation letters, and other qualifications for graduate-level study.

At the University of California—Los Angeles (UCLA), the GRE was made optional for many humanities-related majors for the 2021-22 application cycle, including east Asian studies, geography, public affairs, theater, and urban planning. A GRE score is not accepted for consideration for programs such as public health, biology, chemistry, and philosophy.

On Feb. 26, a proposal on eliminating the GRE standardized test in UCLA admissions was presented to the school’s senate by UCLA graduate student representatives. These graduate students are also considering taking the initiative to the UC Board of Regents for a systemwide removal of GRE requirement, according to DailyBruin.

Epoch Times Photo
University of California—Los Angeles, in Los Angeles, Calif. (Emma Hsu/The Epoch Times)

The University of Southern California (USC) also waived its GRE requirement for many programs including some highly competitive programs such as urban planning and public administration.

USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism announced that the school will suspend the GRE in its admission for all 2022 graduate applicants.

A Chapman University spokesperson told The Epoch Times that the university offers more than 40 graduate and credential programs to help students succeed in their professional careers, many of which do not require the GRE. But Chapman University does not have a plan to drop the GRE requirement entirely from its admission process.

Epoch Times Photo
A student sits in the shade at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., on Oct. 14, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

In response to the pandemic, ETS provided an at-home testing solution starting April 2, 2020, so prospective students could take the test comfortably from home while test centers remained closed.

Home testing is offered everywhere that the test is normally available, based on students’ account addresses, with an exception for students from mainland China and Iran.

All at-home tests were monitored by using the live remote invigilators through ProctorU, according to ETS.

However, the online test solution raises concerns about fairness. Many argue that the online version of the test handicaps students from rural areas with low-income backgrounds, as the test requires students to have a computer with a built-in microphone and speaker at home, and stable internet access.

Fatima Irshad, a first-year master’s student at USC who was accepted into her dream program without turning in a GRE score believes that the GRE does not assess one’s full potential.

“We have to realize that the GRE is a test, and like all tests, it does not mirror an individual’s potential for success. There could be people who are just good at taking tests but do not have a solid foundation in what they are studying. Considering that the GRE test is for more basic skills like vocabulary, math, reading, etc., if a person studies well, they can achieve success in the test,” Irshad told The Epoch Times.

Alice Sun