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GRE, GMAT, SAT and other assessment tests; where did they come from?!?

GRE, GMAT, SAT and other assessment tests; where did they come from?!?

We have all heard of various standardized assessment tests (CAT or otherwise) such as GRE, GMAT, SAT and so on. We all know how intense they are and how much toilsome it can be to achieve a high or competitive score in any of these tests. Now many of us have questions regarding “why they are so much difficult” or “how are they useful to judge the potentialities of a perspective candidate” or simply put, “Why the heck do I have to do all these (the question I asked myself many times over)”. Over the years of my experiences as a Quantitative Reasoning instructor for both GRE and GMAT at one of the most prominent education centers back in Dhaka (capital of Bangladesh), I have gathered some ancillary knowledge which may (or may not, it’s up to you to judge, dear readers) efficiently answer some of these questions. In this article, I will make an effort (for humanity’s sake, as it would generate no materialistic profit from my part) to discuss how they came to light and why do we have to sit for them in order to prove ourselves to the admission board(s) of any or all of the top universities. In order to do that we must have knowledge about one thing called “Psychometric Analysis Test” and how is it related to all these tests like: GRE, GMAT and others.

I did not focus this discussion on contents analysis of GRE/GMAT, because most of us know all about Verbal and Quantitative Analysis parts. However, for those who are complete newbies, I suggest them to read this article very carefully and wait for my next articles to understand all about these tests and how to perform well in them.

Since I was a toddler, I learned that if someone is strong in number crunching (i.e. Mathematics or Quantitative Aptitudes) and expressing himself in an international surroundings (i.e. English, being the international language), that person is considered to be brilliant or smart (apart from being a famous scientist or noble laureate or having any other social as well as global contributions, in which case, he also have to be good at both number crunching and expressing himself). That being said, if there is some way to find out how good, or even great, a person is in either Quantitative analysis or Verbal aptitude or both, that would greatly help determining that person’s level of smartness. Keeping that in mind, the British had developed “Psychometric Testing System”, mainly for employee hiring purpose. This testing system determined the eligibility of employability (on the basis of verbal, analytical and quantitative abilities) of any professional candidate, which, for a good reason, is still a valid system to find potential employees in UK. Later on, this very system had converted into various assessment tests such as GRE, GMAT, SAT and as such back in USA. Therefore, to understand the efficacy and the reason of existence for all these assessment test, the first thing we must do is to shed an analytical light on Psychometric Test and how it actually relates to GRE, GMAT and others as such.

“Psychometry” is a word constructed with two different words, “Psychology” and “Metrics”. The first word “Psychology” means the “science of mind” and “Metrics” means the “way to measure something”. Therefore, naturally the word “Psychometry” means “the quantifiable measurement of mental abilities”. According to a GRE text book of MacGrow-Hill, this system of testing mental abilities called the Psychometric Analysis was developed by a panel of more than thousands of mental health specialists. The way it has been designed clearly expresses the behavioral traits that someone possesses along with the probable psychology that he is likely to exhibit in a certain set of environment. Simply put, Psychometric Testing system is just a way to know how smart you really are and how high the level of your IQ is, through a set of questions judging your Quantitative, Verbal and Analytical abilities.

To understand a bit more about Psychometry, let us go a little further back to the history. According to the book named “The Routledge Companion to the Leadership (Chapter – 33)”, during the Second World War, there was a huge crisis of leaders not only in the UK, but also all over the world. The traditional way of finding leaders from the elites was not going to cut it. It was time they started finding leaders among the general population. With that in mind, the British have developed (during the rule of W. Churchill) a system called “Psychological Interview” where selected candidates from the mass population were interviewed to find out a potential decision maker as well as a leader. Afterwards, having the Psychological Interviewing system systematically quantified by a huge panel of psychologists and mental health specialists, the Psychometric Testing System emerged. Adopting from that system of testing mental abilities, analytical aptitude and reasoning skills, various organizations such as ETS (Educational Testing System) came up with GRE (Graduate Record Examination), GMAC (Graduate Management Assessment Council) came up with GMAT (Graduate Management Assessment Test), College Board came up with SAT, PSAT, MCAT, LSAT and others as such.

So, why are they very much important for any higher-studies candidate to go through (which is not that pleasant of an experience, I kid you not). The reason is the educational systems all over the world, which are very much versatile, subjective and differs extraneously from country to country. Therefore, if someone wants to go to USA or any other English speaking countries for higher studies, it is very much important to know two following things (among many other things) about the candidate:

  1. If the syllabus that the candidate completed is at the least bit compatible with the higher studies curriculum of the institute the candidate applied for or not;
  2. If the candidate is mature enough with appropriate level of analytical skills, language aptitude as well as IQ that would make him not only eligible to carry on with the course but also do something significant with it in the near future or not;

To satisfy the first criteria, various Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) system has been generated by various organizations such as World Education Services (WES), UCAS and so on.

And to satisfy the second criteria, all these assessment tests such as GRE, GMAT and others come to play.

Now, why exactly all these assessment tests are used to measure a candidate’s mental maturity and level of IQ?!?!

Sorry to be a buzz-kill, but to know any farther, you must wait for my next article.

So, my dear readers, see you next time with my farm-fresh article and till then, I would like you to post any constructive comments below in the comment section and let me know about your queries and how may I be able to solve them for you.



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