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Graduate Schools Quantify Your Potential

Some graduate school admissions offices rely on the Personal Potential Index to assess applicants.

by Brian Burnsed
Publication: U.S. News & World Report

February 23, 2011


In July 2009, the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the nonprofit educational testing and research organization that administers the GRE, began offering the Personal Potential Index. This new evaluation tool is designed to quantify a student's abilities in six areas: knowledge and creativity, communication skills, teamwork, resilience, planning and organization, and ethics and integrity. At no extra charge, Graduate school candidates who take the GRE can ask recommenders to rate them on a web-based form, and may send up to four reports to schools. The form asks recommenders to rate the student from "below average" to "truly exceptional" regarding 24 statements, which include "is among the most honest people I know" and "works well under stress." For those who aren't taking the GRE, but who wish to submit a PPI, the cost is $20 per report.

In its brief existence, the PPI has gained momentum in the graduate school admissions world. More than 13,000 students have established PPI accounts, according to Kate Kazin, executive director of strategic initiatives and strategic relations for ETS. Though ETS has no official statistics on the number of schools integrating PPI results into their admissions process, Kazin claims that students are sending PPI results to a large number of graduate programs, and she predicts more schools will utilize the PPI in coming years. "I'm expecting quite a few more schools are going to go in that direction in the near future," she says. "There's a tremendous amount of interest in it." 

One of the most prominent programs to integrate PPI results into their admissions process is the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business. The school began accepting PPI evaluations in the 2010-11 admissions cycle and even went as far as to ask for two PPI evaluations in lieu of letters of recommendation.

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