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GRE Has Undergone Historic Changes

Since August 1, this 2011, aspiring graduate and business school students worldwide, aiming to study in the US, UK, Canada or Australia, have encountered significant changes to the Graduate Record Examination.

Although the exam will still include sections on verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing, each section is being revised. While the new formats accommodates and assists, it also challenges students because of the new questions.

The verbal section, for example, will replace antonyms and analogies with more reading comprehension and text completion questions. The section will focus more on reasoning than on individual words, all of which will be in the context.

Changes at a Glance

  • The updated GRE will be an hour longer and will be graded on a new scale of 130 to 170.

  • It will allow students to skip questions and come back to them later as long as they are in the same section. They can also edit answers.

  • An on-screen calculator will be available for test takers, which will likely mean more complex math problems.

  • The Quantitative section will include less geometry, but more data analysis.

  • Verbal section won't include antonym and analogy questions. There will be reading comprehension, similar to those on the GMAT

  • It will be adaptive at the section level: the better a test taker performs in one section, the more difficult the next section will be.

  • Applicants who are interested in retaking the test now have to wait 60 days before doing so.

The Quantitative section will include less geometry, but more data analysis. It will also introduce numeric entry questions, where test takers must provide an answer without having a selection of choices from which to choose.

A new computer-based test also lets you edit or change your answers, skip questions and more, all within a section –and an on-screen calculator for the quantitative section.

According to the new GRE website, the questions focus more on the "types of skills that are required to meet today's demanding graduate and business school expectations." The Web-based exam will seek to provide would-be grad students “a friendlier, more flexible test design that gives test takers the freedom to use more of their own test-taking style and strategies.”

The scoring system will also change. Sections will be graded from a range of 130-170 in one-point increments, rather than the previous scale of 200-800 which utilized 10-point increments.

In addition to the new scoring system, the GRE will also become an hour longer, as students will now have four hours to complete the test. Also, applicants who are interested in retaking the test now have to wait 60 days before doing so, a change from the current policy of taking the test once every month.

Presently, students have the option to take practice tests of both the current and new GRE. The last administrating of the current test will be July 1 and the revised test will have a 50-percent reduced fee.

Students are encouraged to pay attention to application deadlines to programs they may be applying to. If a candidate is applying for spring 2012 and the admission deadline is Oct. 15, then they need to take the current test. If deadline is after early November, then the students should definitely consider taking the revised test on Aug. 1, according to experts.

Educational Testing Service (ETS), the group that gives the test, reported that more than 700,000 students seeking admission to graduate schools across the country took the GRE last year, a 5 percent increase from the year before. ETS is calling the changes “the largest revisions” in the history of the test.


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