As of July 2019, US Army officers enrolled in the Captains Career Course must take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) during the course beginning this summer. A large-scale rollout of the GRE is a first step in the Army’s move to establish a culture of objective assessment and employ the individual talents of its officers.
The first students to take the GRE at the Captains Career Course were scheduled to take the test in July, with full implementation taking place by October. The GRE is a standardized test administered by computer which measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and critical thinking skills.
The exam is an admissions requirement for some graduate schools within the United States. For those officers pursuing a graduate degree through the Army’s Advanced Civil Schooling (ACS) Program, officers must include GRE scores in their nomination packets. The Army will use these results to assess an officer’s potential for academic success in Army competitive education programs. Maj. Gen. JP McGee, the director of the Army Talent Management Task Force, said:
Assessments provide a common lens through which to identify an officer’s knowledge, skills, behaviors, and preferences. They differ from evaluations which provide subjective information about the performance and potential of officers. The best decisions about our people are informed by both evaluations and assessments.
The Army is undergoing the most comprehensive reform of its personnel systems since the end of the Second World War. Part of this effort is to gain better information on the talent within the officer ranks by administering assessments at key milestones in an officer’s career. Gen. James McConville, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, said:
Part of what we’re trying to do right now is implement a 21st century talent management system that recognizes every person in the Army for their unique talents.
Talent is the knowledge, skills, behaviors, and preferences in every individual. Assessments are standardized and provide objective information about an officer's cognitive and non-cognitive knowledge, skills, behaviors, and preferences. Maj. Gen. JP McGee also added:
Administering the GRE to CCC students is the first step in establishing a robust culture of assessments across the Army.
The Army will fully fund the GRE, but students must schedule their exams and conduct their own test preparation. Educational Testing Services (ETS), which owns and administers the GRE, will distribute four copies of the GRE results at no cost to the officer: one to the Army Research Institute for research purposes, one to Human Resources Command, and two additional copies to academic institutions of the Soldier’s choosing.