The Educational Testing Service announced that major changes in the Graduate Record Examination, a standardized entrance exam required by most graduate schools, will be delayed until fall 2007. The overhaul of the exam, originally scheduled to take effect in October, has been postponed due to time constraints.
“Logistically, it’s difficult to pull off in time,” said Matt Fidler, GRE program manager for Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions. “ETS is not willing to put out a subpar product, and they have to get it to about 400,000 people.”
The changes, which account for the largest overhaul in the exam’s 55-year history, will test potential graduate students on critical thinking skills rather than memorization skills.
New content will include a greater focus on analytical writing and will expand critical reading sections. New sentence equivalence questions are also set to replace analogies and antonyms, according to the ETS Web site.
The format of the test will be changed from a computer adaptive format to a linear format. The current computer adaptive format adjusts the difficulty of questions based on previous correct or incorrect answers. The new linear format maintains the same difficulty level throughout the exam. The test will also be longer, increasing from two-and-a-half hours to four hours.
Major test changes have been postponed in the past, according to Kaplan. Plans to replace the paper version of the GRE with a computerized exam in 1997 were pushed back by ETS until 1999.
Diana Weisner, a senior psychology major, took the exam last December. Weisner, who plans to retake the exam next year, said she believes the new changes will allow her to improve her score.
“I want to kill the GRE,” she said. “The way the test is set up, it’s impossible to get a good score. I really hope the new test is better.”
Kaplan is advising students to take the current exam before the changes are implemented. Fidler said the new test could be more challenging.
“Though the year-long delay in the change to the GRE may wreak short-term havoc on aspiring graduate students’ test-taking considerations, it’s ultimately a good thing as it gives students additional breathing room and more time to take the current, shorter version of the test,” Fidler said in a press release.
Aquiles Iglesias, dean of Temple’s Graduate School, said he believes that the delay in the new test will not affect potential graduate students.
“It will be better if it’s a better predictor [of graduate success],” Iglesias said. “But we have to wait to get the results in to see that.”
Zebulon Kendrick, associate dean of the Graduate School, said he believes that the changes could be beneficial.
“A better barometer to measure the potential for success would be a good thing,” Kendrick said.
Carrie Wells can be reached at email@example.com.