Graduate exam gets makeover

After 55 years of testing graduate school hopefuls, the Graduate Records Examination will go through its biggest overhaul make-over ever.

For most students applying to graduate schools, excluding those applying to post-graduate law, business and medical schools, the GRE is mandatory.

The exam is meant to test applicants’ abilities in critical thinking, analytical writing, verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning skills, according to

But almost every aspect of the graduate school exam, ranging from content, length, frequency, scoring and format will be changed in October.

Matt Fidler, a GRE program manager at Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions in New York City, said the test was changed to “make sure it accurately measures the skills that will be needed in graduate school.”

Fidler said another reason the Educational Testing Service, the GRE’s administrators, the GRE’s administrators, is changing the exam is because it was reported that some people overseas memorized questions from the test and posted them the Internet.

Later, Fidler said that was only a small reason the test was changed.

Regardless of the reasons for the change, students who wish to take the test will be forced to deal with the change’s outcome.

The test currently lasts about two and a half hours, Fidler said, but after October, the GRE will last over four hours.

“That’s a lot of change for students, a longer test, different scoring scale,” Fidler said in reference to the scoring scale being changed from 200-800 to a tentative 110-150.

Another change that might affect future test takers is the price.

Fidler said the price will rise, but ETS has not announced the future price.

“Right now, the price is $115, but ETS has announced that the price will go up,” Fidler said.

“Another of the big changes to the test is the testing content,” Fidler said.

“(There are) more critical reading questions, more word problems and data interpretation.”

And starting October, the schools to which the test taker’s applied will be able to see the applicant’s essay along with the score.

Previously, the school could only see the score.

FAMU graduate assistant Keneshia Grant, who works in the School of Graduate Studies and Research, has taken the GRE and said, without hesitation, that the test was difficult.

She felt she would have done better if she had bought the test prep materials.

Instead she studied with the CD ETS provides test takers for three months prior to the test.

“I didn’t buy a (prep book), which I probably should have,” said Grant, an applied social science student from Lauderhill concentrating in public administration. “If you plan on taking (the GRE) you should buy a book.”

One of the areas Grant said she had trouble with was the vocabulary section because the words that were used were not everyday words.

But her advice to future test takers is that the test taker should memorizes root words, which are the faoundation to most English words.

This may be easier than memorizing a large group of 50-cent words.

As for the changes being made to the GRE, Grant feels that it needs to change.

She feels the current test does not accurately reflect test takers’ academic ability.

“I don’t think the GRE reflects your capacity to do well in grad school,” said Grant.

She noted that if the GRE did reflect how well the test taker does, she would not have done as well in school as she did last semester.

Knowing the changes occur in a little over eight months.

Alecia Burnette, 24, has not taken the GRE yet but plans to. She also plans take her test a considerable amount of time before the changes take place.

Although Burnette, who also works in the School of Graduate Studies and Research, is taking her test before the price increases, she still does not like that it will go up.

“I don’t think they should charge as much for those tests,” said Burnette, a graduate political science student from Pensacola.

“A lot of people don’t do well with standardized tests, so (test administrators) know they are going to get more money from the people who have to take it again.”

In order to make the test easier to those who still have not taken it, Ridley advises people to prepare and register now for the GRE.

For GRE prepatation help from Kaplan, test takers can visit

“The first thing definitely is to register so you can get the test time you want,” Ridley said. “Typically, the (GRE) scores are good for five years.”

Contact Brandon D. Oliver at