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Plans for GRE Alterations Reversed

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) plans to begin offering a new version of the GRE in August or September of 2011, with changes to both the format of the standardized test and content. The ETS, which is the organization in charge of administering other standardized tests such as the SAT and TOEFL, had initially planned to implement a new GRE in 2006, but that decision was delayed and eventually abandoned altogether. Those changes were abandoned because of computer testing difficulties, an issue the ETS claims to have remedied in this round of changes.

The new GRE will include the following changes:

  • A simplified computer-based version. Most test takers now take the computer-based version of the GRE. The changes will allow future graduate students to move around the test without losing their place and change their minds on answers they have already submitted. The current GRE forces test takers to make a definitive choice on an answer before moving on to the next question and bases succeeding questions on a test taker’s response to the previous question.
  • A revised scoring system. The 200-800 scale of 10-point increments currently used will be replaced by a 130-170 scale of one-point increments on the verbal and quantitative sections of the test. The ETS believed that a 20-point difference among graduate school applicants on the old scale suggested a significantly lower score among admissions officials, and that the new system will encourage the idea that someone with a few more points than another applicant doesn’t necessarily have significantly different abilities.
  • A longer testing period. The new test will last about three-and-a-half hours instead of three hours.
  • No more antonyms and analogies. The verbal section will instead include more reading comprehension to address complaints that the antonym and analogies section measured a test takers memorization skills and little else. Changes to the content areas of the test were made to reflect college-level curriculums.
  • Access to an online calculator. Test takers will be provided with an online calculator to work out problems in the quantitative section. The section, which will also have fewer geometry questions, will focus on the students’ comprehension of the concepts over basic calculations.
  • The Personal Potential Index. The GRE has added a new option to the test that will measure applicants based on a number of non-cognitive factors based on things like ethics and integrity, communication skills, knowledge and creativity, or planning and organization. The ETS believes this could encourage graduate programs to admit applicants who may have not done as well on the GRE as they had hoped.

On the new test, new content will be introduced and scrambled every two hours. ETS doesn’t expect drastic changes to the cost of the test, although pricing is reviewed on an annual basis and this could change. Test takers will be urged to take the computer-based version of the test, although the paper-based version will still be offered where facilities are inadequate for computer testing. (The paper-based version will take test takers three hours and 45 minutes to complete.)

You can find out more information about the GRE and other standardized tests by visiting our website and navigating to our Resources section. We fully explain each section and provide sample questions to help you prepare, because the best way to feel confident about any version of the test is to know what’s expected of you and what to expect on the test.

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