New GRE changes ‘time-consuming’

By Casey Ramsdell

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE), an exam taken by college students applying to graduate school, will have a longer, more challenging format beginning in September, the Educational Testing Service (ETS) announced last Wednesday. The last date college students will be able to take the current version of the GRE will be July 31.

“Every aspect of the exam is changing,” said Jung Lee, GRE program manager for Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions. “ETS has said that this is the biggest test change the GRE has had in its 55-year history.”

Lee said the test is changing because of security concerns, and to make the questions better measure skills needed in graduate school.

Some of the content changes include fewer multiple-choice questions and new types of questions in both the verbal and quantitative sections.

In the verbal section there will be less emphasis on vocabulary – no antonyms or analogies – and more focus on inferential reading and reading comprehension questions. In the quantitative section there will be fewer geometry questions, with more questions involving real-life scenarios and data interpretation.

There will also be changes to the test administration including the test length, which will now be more than four hours, compared to the current two and a half hours. The scoring scale will also change from the 200-800 to a range between 130-170.

Aditee Dalvi, vice president for student affairs for Northeastern’s Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA) and a senior graduate student studying pharmaceutical science, said she isn’t pleased with the changes to the exam.

“This exam seems to be more time-consuming than the earlier one. Two verbal reasoning sections and two quantitative sections followed by one experimental is going to try every student’s patience,” Dalvi said. “College students are going to find it hard to concentrate well on every section, one after the other, in spite of the time breaks in between them. GREs are always nerve-wracking.”

Morgan Bass, a senior psychology major who recently took the exam, said she thinks the changes would have hurt her scores.

“I think the test is hard enough, without removing the ability to guess through multiple choice,” Bass said. “I’d be glad to have less emphasis on geometry, but the vocabulary is where I scored most of my points, so I’d be sad to see that go.”

The announcement also said students will not be able take the exam in August, which Lee said is usually a busy month for test takers.

A Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions press release said with the elimination of August test dates, students planning to take the test in the spring and summer before the changes go into effect should look into revising their preparation schedules to ensure they will be able to take the test.

Lee said Kaplan recommends taking the current GRE before the changes if possible, and advises taking the practice test online as a guide.

“Students need to realize that even though it’s right around the corner, there is still time to take the current test. Our [Kaplan] recommendation is to take the current test if they’re ready,” Lee said.

The longer and more challenging test will require more stamina and preparation, Dalvi said.

“GRE was always competitive, but this format has made it very, very competitive,” she said. “Students will have to really work hard to crack this form of GRE.”

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