GRE General Test to offer revised version

Story by Briana Gruenewald

Effective Aug. 1, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test will offer a revised version to accommodate students’ various test-taking styles and strategies while better gauging student readiness for graduate school.

David G. Payne, vice president and chief operating officer for the higher education division of the Educational Testing Service, said the changes to the exam — which many graduate and business schools require for admission to certain programs — have been in the works for roughly three years.

“(The changes are) something ETS has been very thoughtful … about, and we’ve done extensive research,” he said.

The three revisions include a more personal test-taking experience, different types of questions, and alterations to the scoring of the test.

Researchers involved with revising the GRE General Test found that students have learned certain test-taking skills that they are not able to implement when taking the current test, which has a strictly linear structure.

Payne said test takers will now be able to review questions and answer them in any order they would like. They will also have the ability to go back and change previous answers.
Senior communication sciences and disorders major Mary Defnet took the GRE General Test in August 2010 because it was a requirement for the graduate school program to which she applied.

She said the new test structure is much different than the old one that she experienced.

“It would have been nice to answer the easy (questions) first and go back to the tougher ones if time permitted,” Defnet said. “My last five questions I answered in 20 seconds because I ran out of time.”

The types of questions for the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections will change. Payne said the main goal for this is to ensure the skills the test measures are “closely aligned” with skills needed to succeed in graduate and business school.

He said the antonyms and analogies portion of the verbal reasoning section will be eliminated because it causes students to simply memorize words, which are not close representations of situations students will encounter in a graduate school program.

Finally, the scoring of the exam will change to make it easier for admissions staff to distinguish among candidates.

Scores will be reported on a new 130-170 score scale in one-point increments instead of the current 200-800 in 10-point increments. Payne said this will minimize score misinterpretation.

Payne said anyone who takes the GRE revised General Test between Aug. 1 and Sept. 30 will get a 50 percent discount — something Defnet thinks will definitely entice people to take it during that period.

“That’s a lot of money off,” she said. “It makes a difference, especially if you’re looking at college kids who are maybe more strapped for cash.”

Senior psychology major Ashlee Wiedeman is in the process of applying for graduate school. She was originally thinking about taking the current test in June or July, but has since decided to take the revised version after Aug. 1.

“I think the revisions will make it a lot easier for grad schools to see what level you’re actually at academically,” she said. “The new test seems to show a more accurate picture of each candidate because they’re allowed to use strategies that work for them in taking the test.”

More information, practice exams, study materials and registration forms for the revised exam can be found at www.takethegre.com.