Most U.S. graduate schools rely on the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) to predict readiness for graduate degree programs and differentiate between applicants in verbal and quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills. Many times, low GRE scores create a barrier to entry into U.S. graduate programs despite research showing that selecting graduate applicants based solely on academic metric thresholds does not guarantee graduate student performance and many low scorers still attain a graduate degree on time (Miller et al., 2019b; Pacheco et al., 2017; Petersen et al., 2018; Wang et al, 2013). In this study, we used a constructivist grounded theory approach to develop a theory on how low GRE-scoring students managed to succeed in their graduate programs. Participants included 17 low-scoring yet successful doctoral students from seven universities across the U.S. The results show students’ self-determination and emotional and financial support and the university’s climate contribute to the success of doctoral students with low GRE scores. This study builds a theory that admission review boards and faculty members can use when weighing standardized testing admission requirements.
GRE, doctoral students, admissions, student performance, constructivist grounded theory
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Recommended APA Citation
Mulolli, D., & Gothberg, J. E. (2023). How Doctoral Students with Low GRE Scores Succeed: A Grounded Theory Study. The Qualitative Report, 28(1), 14-32. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2023.5672