Revisions to the GRE released

A revised version of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General Test will launch on August 1.

David G. Payne, Ph.D., vice president and chief operation officer of the Higher Education Division at Educational Testing Services, which administers the GRE, said the test’s three sections, verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing, will change.

He said there are more reading comprehension questions and no antonym and analogy questions in the verbal reasoning section of the test. This is because graduate students are unlikely to be tested on vocabulary words out of context in graduate school, he said.

“In graduate school, you’re going to be doing more things like reading text passages, making inferences about what the authors of the text are trying to convey, [and] demonstrating that you actually have comprehended the information,” Payne said.

Payne said the first goal in changing the test was to ensure that the way the test measured skills matched the way students will have to demonstrate those skills in graduate programs. The second goal was to make sure the testing experience did not burden test takers. The third goal was to make sure faculty at graduate schools knew how to interpret the scores and make appropriate admissions decisions.

“[Faculty] sometimes misinterpret small differences in scores between two candidates as actually reflecting large, meaningful [and] significant differences,” Payne said.

The current score scale for the verbal and quantitative section is 200-800 points with 10-point increments. The revised test’s score scale is 130-170 points with one-point increments. In the past, if a person scored 210, the next highest possible score would be 220. Now, if a person scores 130, the next highest score would be 131.

Payne said the score scale for the analytical writing section will continue to be 0-6 with half-point increments.

The online version of the test was also modified. Students will be able to answer questions in whichever order they like, mark questions for review later and change answers, none of which they could do before. The revised test will also include an onscreen calculator.

“Every test taker in the verbal and quantitative sections will take the first section. After that, the second section they are presented with will vary in difficulty level depending upon how well they had done on the first section,” Payne said.

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