Significant alterations in GRE to affect its test-takers in 2011

Lauren Mogannam

Undergraduate students taking the Graduate Record Examinations in 2011 will encounter several changes, including the option to skip questions and come back to them, the addition of an online calculator and an increased number of reading comprehension questions.

The GRE is the electronic standardized test created by the Educational Testing Service to determine the qualification of undergraduates for many masters and doctoral programs.According to information released by ETS, test changes will increase security and further help graduate schools find qualified undergraduates, said Arthur Ahn, Kaplan’s director of graduate programs. The most significant adjustment is the change to the scoring scale from 200 to 800 points to 130 to 170 points, he said.

“With the current GRE, there are 60 increment points ranging from highest to lowest,” Ahn said. “With the new GRE, there will be 40 different possible scores, meaning that the range from highest to lowest will narrow by 20 increment points.”

By narrowing the scale, it will be harder for students to increase their overall score, he said.Additionally, both math and verbal questions will be different. The online calculator will result in more complex questions, Ahn said. On the verbal section, analogy and antonym questions will be eliminated and replaced with more reading comprehension questions. Part of the reason for this change is to help international students who need to take the GRE but do not have a strong English vocabulary, he said.

Furthermore, students will now have the option to skip questions within a section and come back to them later, Ahn said.

Although Sara Gabet will take the GRE this summer before the option of skipping questions is added, she said the feature would have helped her.

“I’m not the greatest test taker,” the Communication junior said. “Having that option would be helpful because then you don’t have to waste time trying to figure it out right away.” Still, Gabet said she is glad she will take the test before changes are made.

“If you are working hard and getting good grades all throughout college, graduate schools should put more emphasis on those aspects than on a test that they just keep making harder,” she said.

Changes were also made to influence more business schools to accept the GRE instead of the Graduate Management Admission Test, Ahn said.

According to the GRE Web site, four out of the top five business schools in the country already accept the GRE in place of the GMAT. Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, ranked third by U.S. News and World Report, is the only school on the list that does not accept the GRE. Representatives from Kellogg were not available for comment.

While University Career Services does not help prepare students for the GRE, students will be directed to preparatory resources, said Tracie Thomas, UCS’s assistant director for programming.

“If students come in to ask, we will show them how to navigate the Web site and explain different parts of the test,” she said.

Though ETS has not announced when in 2011 the changes will appear, it is important for students to know changes are coming, Ahn said.

“We definitely want students to know that changes are on the way and that they should plan accordingly,” he said. [email protected]