Follow Up: Not to GRE

This is just a quick follow-up post to my previous one “To GRE or Not to GRE” — that was the question. And the answer is…


Yesterday our Graduate Council voted to allow our new low-residency MFA in Creative Writing to remove the GRE as a requirement for admission. This was not without some gnashing of teeth, but the proposal was successful.

For our program, this moviemaker sense. We expect our applicants to have been out of college for awhile and to be out of a testing environment. The cost and the anxiety of taking a standardized test ($195 for the GRE now) might stop many in their tracks. The scores could have kept some applicants from being accepted into the program, though we weren’t planning to consider the scores in our decision (unless it was really necessary). Even other programs admitted that low GRE scores usually didn’t mean anything because other indicators were usually low as well. At best, the GRE might confirm what we already knew, but they rarely if ever helped a student whose GPA was already low. So why force applicants to take a difficult and expensive test that we wouldn’t use?

Of course, some programs are required to have an entrance exam like the GRE for accreditation. In creative writing, that isn’t the case. Some rely on the Analytical Writing section of the test. In creative writing, the writing sample is the main indicator of success. That combined with transcripts and letters of recommendation, plus the applicant’s letter of intent, all give more valuable information than the test. So I’m glad we’ve been allowed an exemption from the standard application requirements. And who knows, maybe more programs at The W will reconsider the test. I’ve talked to a couple that are considering it.

Published by Kendall Dunkelberg

I am a poet, translator, and professor of literature and creative writing at Mississippi University for Women, where I direct the Low-Res MFA in Creative Writing, the undergraduate concentration in creative writing, and the Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium. I have published three books of poetry, Barrier Island Suite, Time Capsules, and Landscapes and Architectures, as well as a collection of translations of the Belgian poet Paul Snoek, Hercules, Richelieu, and Nostradamus. I live in Columbus with my wife, Kim Whitehead; son, Aidan; and dog, Aleida.

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