The faculty of English has overwhelmingly voted to eliminate all GRE requirements (both general and subject test) for application to our PhD program in English. We follow the lead of our Creative Writing colleagues, who have already eliminated the GRE requirement for application to Cornell’s distinguished MFA program. GRE scores are not good predictors of success or failure in a PhD program in English, and the uncertain predictive value of the GRE exam is far outweighed by the toll it takes on student diversity. For many applicants the cost of preparing for and taking the exam is prohibitively expensive, and the exam is not globally accessible. Requiring the exam narrows our applicant pool at precisely the moment we should be creating bigger pipelines into higher education. We need the strength of a diverse community in order to pursue the English Department’s larger mission: to direct the force of language toward large and small acts of learning, alliance, imagination, and justice.
From 2019 onwards, we will make our graduate admissions decisions based solely on each applicant’s writing sample, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.