Graduate School Admissions, Race, And The White Status Game


All across the country, applicants to
graduate and professional schools have been receiving
fat
letters of acceptance or thin letters of rejection.

They have a right to feel nervous. They`ve
sweated through college and through

rigorous standardized exams,
which they hope will open
the door to their chosen professions. But the prestigious
postgrad programs are ruthless about selecting the best
candidates (at least if they are

white or Asian
). So, applicants obsess over whether
their

165 LSAT
K-12
education
or 680 GMAT is good enough to get in.

But, paradoxically, the faculty of the top
schools seldom preaches what they practice when it comes to
K-12
education
or immigration. They are fiercely selectionist
about who they let in to their institutions. Yet they
lecture

American citizens
about how we should be

lax about whom we let in to our country.

There is much that can be learned from the
study of average test scores from the major postgrad exams.
The idiosyncratic scoring systems do make them seem
impenetrable to outsiders, but fortunately, they are all
graded on the
bell
curve,
so I`ve come up with a handy table that makes
them easy to understand.

I`ve accumulated recent data on the
average scores by race for five exams: the

GRE
for grad school, the

LSAT
for law school, the

MCAT
for medical school, the

GMAT
for business school, and the

DAT
for dental school.

To make all the numbers comprehensible,
I`ve converted them to show where the mean for each race
would fall in percentile terms relative to the distribution
of scores among

non-Hispanic white Americans
. Most of us have some sense
of what the distribution of talent is among whites—political
correctness
doesn`t demand we

avert our eyes
when it comes to whites—so I`ll use
whites as benchmarks.


Mean Score as Percentile of White Distribution



Test



Degree



Year



White



Black



Asian



Tot Hisp



Mex-Am


GMAT


M.B.A.


2008


50%


13%


55%


27%


24%


GRE-Verbal


Ph.D./M.A.


2007


50%


18%


47%


29%


28%


GRE-Quant


2007


50%


14%


66%


29%


28%


LSAT


J.D.


2006


50%


12%


47%


19%


29%


MCAT-Verbal


M.D.


2007


50%


10%


36%


19%


21%


MCAT-Phys Sci


2007


50%


14%


61%


24%


25%


MCAT-Biol Sci


2007


50%


10%


54%


24%


25%


DAT


D.D.S.


2005


50%


16%


60%


27%


NA

Thus, for example, on the Graduate
Management Admission Test (GMAT), the gatekeeper for the
M.B.A. degree, the mean score for whites falls, by
definition,
at the 50th percentile of the white distribution of scores.
The mean score for black test-takers would rank at the 13th
percentile among whites. Asians
average a little better
than the typical white, scoring
at the 55th percentile.

Most of these tests break out separate
nationalities among Hispanics. Thus, my table has columns
both for “Total
Hispanics”
(27th percentile on the GMAT) and
“Mexican-Americans”
(24th percentile). In the
2000 Census,
Mexicans
made up 58 percent
of the Total Hispanic population.

I listed the subtest scores for the
Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and Medical College Admission
Test (MCAT) because the sources didn`t aggregate them.

Note that language is a surprisingly
small problem for Hispanics—they score no worse on the GRE
Verbal subtest than on the GRE Quantitative, and only
moderately worse on Verbal portion of the MCAT. Why? Because

Hispanics who have problems with English
generally don`t
finish
college
, or

even high school
.

As you`ll note, the black average scores
are consistently low across all five tests, plus the listed
subtests. The scores for

Asian Americans are generally good
, but they bounce
around depending upon the balance of verbal vs. quantitative
/ visual questions. The Total Hispanic and Mexican-American
scores are

dependably mediocre
—better than blacks, worse than
whites.

If we look at how many people of each
group take the test, we can understand the variations in
average score a little better.



White



Black



Asian



Tot Hisp



Mexican




% of 20-24 population in 2007


61.5%


15.5%


4.9%


17.5%


10.2%



White Shr



Share of Test-Takers v. White Share


GMAT


68.7%


   
100


                
49


            
205


                
29


              
18


GRE


74.0%


   
100


                
47


              
93


                
29


              
21


LSAT


66.1%


   
100


                
62


            
154


                
47


              
15


MCAT


57.0%


   
100


                
51


            
434


                
44


              
26


DAT


62.0%


   
100


                
44


            
489


                
36


 NA

Thus, for example, whites, who in 2007
made up 61.5 percent of the 20-24-year-old cohort, took 68.7
percent of the GMATs. Blacks took the GMAT at a per capita
rate just under half (49 percent) of the white rate. Asians
are

more than twice
(205 percent) as likely as whites to sit
the GMAT. Mexicans are only a fifth (18 per cent) as likely.

(If you are wondering why America`s
white elites
aren`t more worried about their kids facing
competition from the huge number of Mexican immigrants
they`ve let in, this educational indolence is one answer—at
the highest levels of American society,

Mexican-Americans just aren`t much competition
.)

We are often lectured about how our racist
society crushes the

fragile self-esteem of African Americans
. But this
combination of average score and sample size data suggests
that

blacks
tend to have

inflated ambitions
, especially compared to the
under-ambitious Mexican American population.

I don`t know how many times I`ve heard
a
poor black child
interviewed on TV say
“I want to be a
doctor or a lawyer when I grow up”
while the television
personality nods encouragingly. But it`s many more times
than I`ve heard a poor black child say,
“I want to own my own

carpet-cleaning business
when I grow up”
.

Consider the Law School Admission Test.
Blacks made up a sizable 10.3 percent of LSAT-takers in
2006, while Mexican-Americans comprised only 1.6 percent,
barely up from

1.1 percent way back in 1985
. This large number of black
law school hopefuls suffered from diminishing marginal
returns: their mean score equated to just the 12th
percentile among white test-takers.

In contrast, Mexican Americans scored at
the semi-respectable 29th percentile among white. That was
because only an
elite few
out of their ranks dared take the LSAT at all.
If more Mexicans had tried it, their average would likely
have been lower.

What nobody tells those black children is
that even if you get into medical school or law school, you
still have to pass a
professional licensing exam
when you get out.

Data gathered by Richard Sanders of the
UCLA Law School shows that

53% of the black students
who enter law school fail to
qualify to become lawyers, versus 24% of white students.
About 40 percent of black law school graduates (many of whom
will have taken out

crushing loans
to pay three years of tuition) never pass
the bar exam, compared to 15 percent of whites. Some will
also waste additional years working dead-end day jobs while
paying to take bar exam review courses at night, before
finally giving up in despair.

In effect, the legal establishment is
luring a sizable number of the black race`s more promising
young people (not the very best and brightest blacks, but
well above average African Americans) into a
career cul-de-sac.
That warm and fuzzy feeling that
liberals get from "diversity" comes with very real human costs.

You`ll notice that blacks take all five
tests at relatively similar rates, while Asians specialize
in the medical professions and tend to avoid grad school
(probably because it prepares for generally lower paying
careers). In a diverse society, it`s natural for racial
groups to specialize in certain occupations the way Asians
do. Yet, blacks don`t. One reason for that: blacks are
counted as “diverse”
for affirmative action purposes,
while
Asians generally aren`t.
The grad schools`

institutional hunger for black students
means that
blacks aren`t allowed to develop ethnic specialties.

You might think, for instance, that blacks
would be more inclined to take the DAT to try to get into
dental school than the MCAT for

medical school.
After all—and this is not intended as an
insult to dentists: the


DAT User`s Manual
testifies to the enormous effort
the American Dental Association has put into making the DAT
an extremely rigorous 4.5 hour-long test—studying
one
part of the body
is surely less daunting than studying
all of it.

But instead, blacks are relatively more
likely to take the MCAT (where they do very badly: about the
11th percentile) than the DAT (where they face somewhat less
competition and score at the 16th percentile). 

Yet what would be the reaction of
American
Association of Medical Colleges
and the

American Medical Association
if a healthy trend
developed in which blacks focused more on
dental
than medical school?

A national crisis would be declared! The
medical community would be instructed to mobilize its vast
resources to fight off the challenge from dentists for

precious diverse students!
Bidding wars for blacks would
get even more flagrant!

And the

Law School Admission Council
is probably even crazier
for diversity than the medical colleges.

In short, none of these powerful
institutions will allow blacks to develop their own
specialties. All of them compete against each other for
scarce black talent. This is not because they care about
blacks, because (as we`ve seen) many of blacks are burned
out by being mis-selected.

Many blacks might be better off going to
business school than to law or medical school because you
don`t have to pass a

licensing exam
afterwards. You just get your diploma and
put “M.B.A.” on
your resume. (How much
that`s worth
is, however, another question altogether.)

It`s just
another example of the intra-white status game. To adapt
what I
wrote
some time ago: what white admissions officers in
grad schools care

about “is achieving social
superiority over other whites by demonstrating their
exquisite racial sensitivity and their aristocratic
insouciance about any competitive threats posed by

racial preferences.

Our culture doesn`t give
practical advic
e to young blacks—because it would be
“racist”.

[Steve Sailer (email
him) is


movie critic
for


The American Conservative
.

His website

www.iSteve.blogspot.com

features his daily blog. His new book,

AMERICA`S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA`S
"STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE", is
available


here
.]