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Working to Advance Fairness in Graduate Admissions

The Challenge

A growing number of graduate programs had either dropped the requirement that all applicants submit their GRE testing scores or were considering removing the requirement. As the global agency of record for Educational Testing Service (ETS), APCO was engaged to respond to this challenge while demonstrating the continued value of the GRE test to graduate schools and their admissions teams.

The Solution

APCO’s research-backed strategy centered on changing the conversation around diversity in graduate schools, emphasizing proactive and data-driven tools aimed at improving equity and access, of which the GRE test is a proven and important one. To accomplish this goal, APCO focused on reaching three key target graduate school audiences – faculty, leaders and students. APCO developed an integrated campaign using paid, owned and earned media, events and third-party voices to change the conversation and counter misinformation about the GRE test.

The Result

As a result of this campaign, positive GRE messaging penetrated graduate school conversations both in person and online, creating a counter-narrative to the #GREexit movement that was not previously visible. The campaign resulted in a clear shift in the conversation online from solely focusing on #GRExit, with the campaign’s messages pulling through into countless conversations where users defend the GRE test as a fair and objective measurement for graduate admissions. Motion graphics used in the campaign resonated with audiences on Twitter, driving an average video view rate that was more than twice the typical average on the platform. A brand equity study also proved that the campaign messaging moved faculty members to feel more positively about the GRE – with a 26 percent increase in favorability.

APCO has supported ETS around the world for more than 12 years.