The Graduate Record Exam, the entrance exam used for graduate school admission, will be lengthened and refocused in an effort to provide graduate schools with a more complete prediction of student performance, according to Educational Testing Service, the company that administers the exam.
The changes will take effect next October and will constitute the largest overhaul of the Graduate Record Examination’s General Test in its 55-year history, according to ETS.
Both the content and the format of the GRE will be affected. Overall, the changes are intended to shift the test’s focus from memorization to critical thinking.
“Graduate school is more conceptual,” said Zebulon Kendrick, associate dean of Temple’s Graduate School. “The new test will probably allow a more complete evaluation of the skills of potential [graduate school] applicants; it’s probably more congruent with graduate skills.”
The test will also shift from a computer adaptive format to a linear format. The current computer adaptive format adjusts the difficulty of the questions based on the tester’s previous correct or incorrect answers. The new linear format, on the other hand, will give everyone the same set of questions.
The test will be administered 29 times per year rather than the current continuous testing and it will be expanded from two and a half to four hours.
The GRE General Test comprises three sections: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing. According to ETS, the verbal reasoning section will have a “greater emphasis on higher cognitive skills and less dependency on vocabulary.”
“The new GRE will not have antonyms and analogies,” said Ben Baron, vice president of Graduate Programs at Kaplan Inc., a test preparation company. “There will be sentence equivalency instead, and also sections where the tester has to read a paragraph and match phrases with it.”
ETS notes that the quantitative reasoning section will have fewer geometry questions and “more real-life scenarios and data interpretation questions.”
The changes in the GRE are similar to the recent changes in the SAT, a standardized test often required for admission into undergraduate schools.
In March, the College Board administered the new SAT, which included a new writing section and eliminated analogies.
Like those changes, the adjustments to the GRE were made in order to provide a better assessment of student knowledge and a more accurate prediction of success.
“I believe that GRE scores are usually better at predicting failure than success,” Kendrick said. “They indicate possible problems. People can always rise above what their score is.”
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