The Racial Scoring Gap on the Graduate Record Examination for Students Pursuing Degrees in Specific Disciplines

Each year about 300,000 college students seeking admission to graduate programs in fields such as education, the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences sit for the GRE. In 2003 the mean score for blacks on the combined verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE was 821. 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.

The GRE scoring gap between blacks and whites varies to a large degree depending on the field of proposed study in graduate school. Black students planning to study in the field of engineering scored on average 187 points below whites who plan to pursue a graduate degree in engineering. This is considerably less than the overall racial scoring gap on the GRE.

At the other extreme, in the physical sciences, black students on average scored 247 points below whites.