GRE to change this summer

By Jarrod Thacker

Beginning Aug. 1, aspiring graduate students will face an untested challenge when seeking admission to post-baccalaureate studies.

A revised Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test will be available late this summer, after undergoing several alterations to its question structure and methodology.

The GRE General Test is a standardized assessment created by Educational Testing Service (ETS) used by many programs across the nation to evaluate a student’s aptitude for graduate-level work, in addition to other variables, such as recommendations and undergraduate records.

The examination will still be comprised of three core sections: analytical writing, verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning.

“ETS is always looking for ways to refine and improve the tests we design … We wanted the test to more closely reflect the kinds of tasks and skills students will encounter in graduate and business schools,” ETS Press Relations Director Thomas Ewing said.

Ewing said the modified exam will reflect more real-life scenarios; eliminate vocabulary-focused questions, such as ones using antonyms and analogies; feature more focused analytical writing tasks; and use an imbedded, software calculator.

He said that while the revised exam has a different score scale, current GRE exam results will continue to be accepted. GRE scores are good for five years from the test date.

Luckily for students who have not been administered the test, ETS believes that while the revised test is longer, the revision will make the test more user friendly. The new exam interface will allow students to skip, review, revise and change questions within a section.

Test preparation service Kaplan affirms that instead of each correct answer making the successive question more difficult, the new system will adapt based the percentage of 20 questions that are correct.

“I am optimistic that the test will be friendlier for the students,” Patricia Bond, senior assistant dean in the UK Graduate School’s Office of Graduate Admissions and Recruitment, said. “It is my understanding that the changes will better address the critical thinking and reasoning skills needed in graduate education.”

Students who want to make the UK Graduate School fall 2011 deadline have to take the unrevised GRE exam, but other students have the option of taking either test.

For students who register to test in August or September 2011, $80 will be taken off the $160 exam, with scores being sent out by mid-November.