Graduate admissions test undergoes extreme makeover

The Graduate Record Examinations, a test administered by the Educational Testing Service, will undergo various changes in December of 2007.

According to the ETS Web site, the test will increase validity, provide admission offices with a better representation of the applicant, increase the security of the test and increase in technology advances. The length, administration, score and content of the test will all change.

Jung Lee, program manager for GRE at Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions, said the current test is a computer-adapted exam. The difficulty of the question increases or decreases on based previous responses from the test taker.

“This is the most significant change in the GRE in its 50-year history,” Lee said. “If the answers given to questions are wrong, the difficulty of the next questions will decrease,” he said.

The test will change to a linear version, which is considered to be a pencil and paper exam, but it will still be electronically taken. This means that on any given day, the test will be exactly the same for every test taker in the United States. Lee explained that the new test would have more questions than the current test. There will be two 40-minute verbal and quantitative sections. The sections, renamed critical reasoning and analytical writing, will now have two 30-minute sections. There will also be an experimental section.

“Currently a student can take the test virtually any day at any time of the year,” Lee said. The administration of the test will change to 30 set times a year. There are currently 600 test sites around the United States, which will expand to 3,000 test sites, according to the Web site.

When Lee explained the new content of the exam, he described it as being more active. “There will be new types of questions with less emphasis on vocabulary, more complex reasoning and applications and reading comprehension portion.”

The entire essay response will be made available to the schools of the applicant’s choice along with the score of that section and the entire test.

Lee said the quantitative section would have less emphasis on geometry, more emphasis on data interpretation and more complex word problems. A new free response portion will also be added to the quantitative section.

The ETS Web site stated the current scores for the quantitative and verbal section are on a 200-800 point scale. The new scale in the quantitative and verbal section will range from 130-170. The scoring in the analytical section will remain the same with the 0-6 point scale.

“Technology advances include a computer-enabled portion in the verbal section that will actually allow you to highlight your answer in the passage of the reading comprehension section,” Lee said. An onscreen calculator will also be available in the quantitative section. ETS will release a scale in November of 2007 that will correlate the new test with the scores of the old test. The new test seems to remind students of  the

Scholastic Aptitude Test.

“I am glad that I will take the test now because I am more inclined to study now,” said Montrel Miller, a fourth-year agri-business student from Newton, Ga.

“I remember a similar situation with the SAT after I graduated high school,” Miller said. “I feel bad for my counterparts who will have to take the new test, but I hope they will take the change seriously and start to prepare for it as soon as possible.” He is currently preparing for the current GRE exam.

“It seems like the old one will be easier because it is more familiar (to people), but then I feel that the new test would more accurately reflect the knowledge or skills of the test taker,” said Latasha Lyte, a senior Agronomy student from Brooklyn, who is scheduled to graduate in the Fall of 2007.

“Kaplan has over 70 years of experience,” Jung Lee said. “It offers a higher score guarantee, and test takers will receive their money back if they do not improve.”

Kaplan will also offer new courses based on the new exam, which will be available in the summer of 2007. It notes that if the test taker is ready to take the current GRE, scores from the exam will be good for up to five years. Higher GRE scores will qualify students for merit based scholarships and grants. A more detailed summary along with new updates on the test can be found on the Kaplan Test Prep Web site at