Thursday, March 24, 2011

The new GRE: What you need to know

By Michael Auslen | IDS
Mar. 24, 2011

The Graduate Record Examination, required by most institutions for admission to graduate school programs, will undergo significant changes beginning Aug. 1.

Currently, the GRE consists of a general test and a series of subject tests. Only the general test will be affected by the changes.

“The test will be much more user-friendly,” said James Wimbush, dean of the University Graduate School and incoming chair of the GRE Board of Directors. “The test will measure the qualities much better for graduate school.”

Wimbush said Educational Testing Service, the company that administers the GRE, looked at years of testing data and spoke with graduate programs about the skills they think are most essential for graduate students before making changes to the test.

“Graduate programs are very keen on students’ analytical abilities and their ability to comprehend,” Wimbush said.

The new GRE will allow students to go backward and forward within the test sections. Students will also be allowed a calculator on the quantitative portion of the exam.

The verbal and quantitative portions of the exam will now be scored on a scale from 130 to 170 in one point increments. The analytical writing section will still be scored from zero to six.

Some of the section lengths will change. The new GRE will include two 30-minute analytical writing tasks, two 30-minute verbal reasoning sections and two 35-minute quantitative reasoning sections.

Among other things, the GRE will no longer include antonym or analogy questions in the verbal reasoning section. However, it will include more reading comprehension questions, new text completion questions and sentence equivalence questions that require interpreting the context of a whole sentence.

The quantitative reasoning section will have some questions with multiple correct answers, all of which must be identified, as well as numeric entry questions.

The new version of the GRE will be administered beginning Aug. 1. Students can register for the new test now.

Because scores for August and September administrations of the GRE will not be available until November, Wimbush said students planning on attending graduate programs beginning in the fall should not take the new test in August, and those looking at spring programs should contact their schools.

Students who take the test in August and September will receive a 50 percent discount as well.