Test-makers refashion GRE

Students planning to take the Graduate Record Examination will be affected by a major change to be made by Educational Test Service test-makers.

ETS announced July 31 is the last day to take the exam before it changes to its new format. From August through mid-September, students will not have the opportunity to take the GRE.

The next date the test will be administered is Sept. 10, and this date depends on where test-takers live in the country.

“Students typically take this exam in August because they need at least three months to prepare,” said Russell Schaffer, senior communications manager of Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions.

“This works out because finals are over and students can study,” Schaffer said.

Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions, a division of Kaplan Inc., aims to be a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses, according to its Web site.

Kaplan offers preparation for more than 80 standardized tests.

ETS’ reason for not administering the exam in August is because it is trying to build a new scoring scale. Scores earned will be valid for up to five years.

ETS officials say they plan to use the new scale for decades. They believe not administering the exam in August is one way to ensure a smooth transition for students.

These changes, some say, will make the exam more difficult.

Stanley Mitchell, 20, a third-year business student from Miami, said the short notice of the new exam will “hinder students as far as preparing and keeping grades.”

Mitchell, who will eventually take the new-format exam, plans on preparing early.

The GRE will become a four-hour test, compared to its current two and a half hours.

The old GRE was a computer-adaptive test, which means when a student answers a question correctly, the next question became harder.

Comparatively, the new format will be modified into a linear computer-based test. The difficulty of the questions does not depend on how a student answers.

ETS’ general reason for these changes is to attempt to make the test more predictive of success in graduate school.

In doing so, the new test will focus on higher cognitive and reading skills. The test will consist of two verbal, two quantitative, one experimental and two 30-minute analytical writing essays.

Sean Mitchell, 19, a sophomore, business administration student from Fort Lauderdale said he “understands the necessity to raise certain requirements to show if someone is adequately prepared for graduate school, but doing it (informing students) in such a short time span is a bad policy.”

These significant changes will affect more than 500,000 students who annually take this exam. The GRE is required by the vast majority of graduate schools across the country.

“These changes may be an inconvenience, but students should start preparing now and take the exam before it changes,” Schaffer said.

Students are encouraged to register earlier because test dates during spring and summer will fill rapidly.

“One factor to consider is as of Sept. 10, the GRE will be administered only 30 times a year, compared to its current every day of the year,” Schaffer said.

“I’ve been attending free GRE classes through the School of Graduate Studies and Research here at FAMU,” said Dillon Williams, 21, a fourth-year accounting student from Miami. Williams plans on taking the GRE in March and hopes to attend Florida International University for graduate school.

Students who plan on taking the new GRE can register as early as July 1.

On Feb. 28, Kaplan will be holding a free graduate school admission and GRE strategy seminar. The event will start at 5 p.m. at the South Gate Campus Center, located at 675-1 West Jefferson St.

The event is for those interested in learning more about changes made to the GRE and who want help on getting prepared for graduate school.