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Mississippi College Waives Standardized Test Scores for Graduate Students

Interim Provost Debbie Norris, who also serves as Graduate School Dean
Interim Provost Debbie Norris, who also serves as Graduate School Dean

Mississippi College leaders will waive national test scores for prospective graduate students to ease financial hardships stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Going into effect for the Summer and Fall semesters, the decision applies to such exams as the GRE, Praxis, and GMAT.

Interim Provost Debbie Norris announced the changes Tuesday in a new video distributed to the university community as well as emails.

MC officials applaud the action detailed by Dr. Norris, the Graduate School dean. Administrators believe the move will reduce roadblocks in the midst of tough times.

“Our university wants to do what it can to help potential graduate students meet their goals with as few obstacles as possible,” says Jonathan Randle, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. “In the wake of this Spring’s uncertainty, many people are questioning their financial, educational and occupational plans.”

Testing dates and administration protocols for many of these standardized exams haven’t been established following the global outbreak of the coronavirus, he noted.

Looking for ways to cut education costs, students were paying a $205 GRE fee. The test measures verbal, math and writing skills for admission to graduate schools.

The waivers announced at Mississippi College come as COVID-19 cases keep soaring in America, the world’s leader. There were more than 770,000 COVID-19 cases in the USA and over 41,000 fatalities reported as of April 20. In addition, there are more than 22 million Americans suddenly unemployed as many businesses closed.

School of Education Dean Cindy Melton hopes the waiver of the PRAXIS exam and other tests will make it easier for students to enroll as well as finish their Mississippi College degrees. The School Leaders Licensure Assessment exam for the education specialist leadership program is also waived.

Mississippi already faces a significant shortage of classroom teachers. “We want to do everything we can to support a strong, healthy pipeline of well-prepared and well-equipped teachers and administrators for our children in Mississippi,” Melton said.

The decision, she said, accommodates students seeking to go to graduate school, but unable to take entry exams due to the shutdown of national testing sites.

There is one exception, based on Mississippi Department of Education regulations, Melton said. That is the Alternate Route Elementary Education program.

The Praxis test cost can be as much as $170 in elementary education.

Waiving the GMAT exam will make it easier for prospective graduate students seeking admission to programs in the MC School of Business such as the MBA. The cost to take the GMAT is $250.

Hannah Kanengiser, 23, of Fort Worth, Texas is busy applying to graduate schools now to earn a master’s degree in professional counseling. Waiving the GRE test score would knock down financial hurdles, she says.

“I think it is great that Mississippi College is waiving the GRE and other tests,” says Kanengiser, a December 2017 MC psychology graduate. “Test anxiety can cause capable students to under-perform and this can prevent them from being accepted to graduate school.”

Prospective graduate students can also save money because they wouldn’t need to pay for GRE prep courses or purchase helpful test books, she added.

Admissions director Kyle Brantley sees benefits for students wanting to enter MC’s graduate school pipeline in 2020. Waiving national test scores, he said, will “reduce barriers and undue stress for many seeking to enroll in the immediate future,” says the MC graduate. “This could be a big incentive for students seeking enrollment the remainder of the year.”