The Widening Racial Scoring Gap on the Graduate Record Examination

Last week JBHE reported that there has been no progress in recent years in closing the racial scoring gap on the Law School Admission Test. Once again, the mean black score on the LSAT remains about 17 percent below the mean score for whites.

Now we turn to the racial scoring gap on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Each year about 300,000 college students seeking admission to graduate programs in fields such as education, the humanities, and the social sciences sit for the GRE. In 2003, the latest year for which there is complete data available, 27,267 blacks took the GRE test. Thus, blacks made up 8.8 percent of all students who took the GRE.

In 2003 the mean score for blacks on the combined verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE was 821. (The GRE is scored on the familiar 400 to 1600 scale that was, until this year, used for the two-part SAT test.) For whites, the mean combined score was 1062. Thus the mean white score was 241 points, or 20 percent, higher than the mean score for blacks. This racial scoring gap is even wider than the persistent and growing gap on the SAT test.

In 1997 the black-white scoring gap on the verbal and quantitative portions of the GRE was 228 points. Therefore, over the next six-year period, we find that the GRE scoring gap between blacks and whites has widened by 13 points.


Copyright © 2006. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.