Taking the the Graduate Record Examinations, better known as the GRE, is a must for many people applying to graduate school. The test was taken by about 675,000 people in 2010, and the number of business schools accepting the GRE for MBA applicants has quadrupled in the past four years.
The Educational Testing Services will be making some of the biggest changes in the GRE’s 60-year history this coming summer. The revised test will feature new kinds of questions and will be graded on a very different scoring scale. The computer-based test, which is used in the majority of testing locations around the world, will also introduce a number of features to make the experience better for test-takers. The main goal of revising the test is to better evaluate “kind of things that students are actually doing when they get into graduate school or business school,” said Dawn Piacentino, the director of communications and client services for the GRE in a phone interview with EduInReview.
The current GRE is scored on a scale of 200 to 800 in 10-point increments, while the new test will be scored from 130 to 170 in one-point increments. The new scale will allow university and college admissions officers “to understand small core differences better and know what differences are small and which ones aren’t,” explained Piacentino.
The new questions on the revised GRE will place more emphasis on text analysis, and will no longer include antonyms and analogies. Piacentino said that the new format will give vocabulary questions a better context. “Vocabulary will still be important, but it will be important in the context of the reading passages.” There will also be a number of open-ended questions and questions that require more than one answer to be considered complete.
Perhaps the best news among all these changes are the new revisions to the format of the computer-based test, which has been improved in reaction to test-taker feedback. In any given section, users will be able to move freely about, instead of being required to answer each question in order. Test-takers will also be able to mark questions they wish to return to and will also be able to use an on-screen calculator.
However, the addition of the calculator doesn’t mean that the quantitative portion of the GRE will be harder. It will still test users on arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis. “You don’t need a calculator to answer the questions on the current test, and you really don’t need a calculator to answer the questions on the revised test,” said Piacentino.
No doubt the biggest question for most prospective grad students is how to study for the revised test. “We make available to all test-takers our free POWERPREP II materials,” recommended Piacentio. “Anyone can go to the website and download it, you don’t have to have registered to take the test.” The software allows users to get a timed practice test, in addition to lots of sample questions that reflect the revised GRE and also discusses strategies for approaching the new question types.
Anyone who signs up to take the new test in August or September will receive a 50 percent discount, however test scores will not be available until the beginning of November. If you need your scores before that time, you should sign up for the current version of the GRE as soon as possible.