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Revised GRE test

All standardized tests are updated from time to time, to make them better fit the current goals of standardized testing at large; the GRE is no exception. As of August 1st, 2011, the Educational Testing Service is changing the GRE test. Don’t let yourself be caught off guard by the upcoming changes; take them into account in advance.

Test-taking changes to the GRE test

The GRE is changing to make test-taking more accessible for all test-takers. Some of the changes made to the computerized test include:

  • the ability to return to past questions and change answers
  • the ability to mark questions, so as to easily return to them later
  • the addition of an on-screen calculator for the quantitative reasoning portion of the test
  • the addition of “preview and review capabilities” throughout the test
  • the alteration of some questions to provide a more easily used interface, with features such as the ability to highlight sentences as the answer to the question instead of picking an answer from a multiple choice list, or entering numbers directly into the computer instead of picking from a list

On the whole, the test is now much friendlier to any individual test taker’s own personal strengths. No longer will students have to take the test without the ability to return to prior questions, something that might not fit their own best test-taking strategies.

Scoring changes for the revised GRE test

Up until this August 2011 update, the GRE has been scored out of 1600 points. The GRE was scored in 10-point increments, with 200 points being the lowest possible score for both the verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning sections, and 800 points being the highest. Now, however, each section of the test will be scored on a scale from 130 to 170, in 1-point increments. The analytical writing portion of the test will not be changed in testing scale.

The main effect of these changes is to make it easier for schools to successfully compare different student scores. Previously, a difference of a single increment between two students’ scores would look like a 10 point difference, which might be interpreted as excessively significant. Now, the same incremental difference will look like a 1-point difference, and schools will be much more easily able to compare different students’ scores successfully.

Changes to the GRE test questions

The content of each test question is also changing. In the verbal reasoning section of the test, antonyms and analogies are being entirely removed from the test, while the questions are being revised in order to better reflect “the kind of thinking [students will] do in graduate or business school.”

New types of questions include text completion questions and sentence equivalent questions. Text completion questions require test takers to fill in missing words or phrases from short passages, in order to demonstrate reading comprehension and evaluation capabilities. Sentence equivalent questions require test takers to successfully complete sentences in light of the overall meanings of the sentences in question.

There will also be more reading comprehension questions on the test, with additional answer types including multiple choice questions in which several answers from the list are correct (and all must be selected), and questions in which a particular sentence must be highlighted as the answer.

In the quantitative reasoning section, changes are being made in order to provide a greater “emphasis on data interpretation and real-life scenarios.” The new types of questions provided on the test in order to create this emphasis include multiple-choice questions, again periodically with multiple correct answers, which must all be selected, and numeric entry questions, which provide no list of answers from which to choose an answer.

The analytical writing section of the test is changing the least, but there are some changes being made to increase the focus of the section. Specifically, instead of test takers being provided with multiple essay topics, they are being provided only with single topics for each of the two essays. Furthermore, scoring will emphasize the ability to wholly address the task of the topic, clearly and concisely.

Additional changes for the paper GRE test

The paper-based GRE test, which is administered in places where the computer-based test is not available, will be changing to fit the new test, as well. These new changes will make sure that the new question types do appear within the paper test. Furthermore, the new version of the paper test will require takers to write their answers within the test book itself, instead of on a separate sheet, and it will involve a provided calculator for the quantitative reasoning test, instead of necessitating students to bring their own calculators.

Important information for test takers
The new version of the GRE will be instituted on August 1st. Any registrants for the test who are planning to take it after that date should take into account the changes in their preparations. Anyone who needs scores for admissions before November will likely have to take the test before the August 1st revisions in order to get the scores on time, and should similarly take that into account. In general, however, ETS advises students to seek the revised test, because it has been designed to give takers a better experience overall.

No matter which version of the test you take, GRE preparation will be important to earning the scores you need. Be sure that your GRE practice focuses on the appropriate question types and test format for the version that you will be taking.

For more information about these revisions, go to the ETS website for the revised GRE.