• August 27, 2014

Aspiring Graduate Students Will Face Revamped GRE in 2011

The Graduate Record Examinations, the test that serves as a gatekeeper to most American graduate programs, will undergo a host of significant changes, including dropping analogy questions and introducing a new scoring scale, the Educational Testing Service announced on Friday.

The changes in the GRE general test, which testing-service officials said were the most extensive in the test's 59-year history, will be offered starting in the fall of 2011. They were announced here at the annual meeting of the Council of Graduate Schools.

The new GRE will adopt a narrower range of possible scores, from 130 to 170 points, in order to encourage more-accurate comparisons between test takers. The existing range, from 200 to 800 points, magnifies small differences in scores that have little statistical significance, testing-service officials said.

The verbal-reasoning section of the GRE will stop using two types of questions, antonyms and analogies, that are believed to encourage excessive rote learning of vocabulary, especially among international students. Those questions will be replaced with reading-comprehension exercises, said David G. Payne, executive director of the GRE program.

"Having a good command of English vocabulary will be necessary, but it won't be sufficient, to get a high score on the test," Mr. Payne said.

The new test will also allow computer-based test takers to revisit previous questions within the same section, a practice that is not allowed on the current test. The test will retain an adaptive format, meaning questions can get tougher if a test taker is doing well, or easier if the test taker is doing poorly. But question difficulty will only change at the beginning of a new section of the test, not with each new question.

The entire test will take four hours, about 30 minutes longer than now. Some of the changes were proposed several years ago, but they were delayed after test takers experienced a shortage of testing sites in Europe.

Comments

1. ksledge - December 07, 2009 at 07:42 am

I like these changes and I'm jealous of the new test-takers. I don't even want to think about how many hours I spent memorizing vocabulary words. All of my missed points come from analogies and antonyms.

2. esselan - December 07, 2009 at 11:10 am

I strongly disagree with the elimination of analogies. Analogies test critical thinking skills in a way that reading comprehension does not.

3. john_e - December 07, 2009 at 01:37 pm

I predict an avalanche of foreign test-takers before 2011. It sounds like the new test will be more challenging for ESLers.

4. fizmath - December 07, 2009 at 02:35 pm

This is ridiculous. Analogies are the furthest thing from rote memorization.

5. ccherry - December 07, 2009 at 02:53 pm

I agree that analogies aren't about memorization.

I wonder if this will boost interest in taking the MAT. It's exclusively analogies, takes only an hour, and costs less.

6. lomalinda - December 07, 2009 at 08:26 pm

I think everyone is missing the point the GREs in general are not a good indicator of graduate student success and in my view are waste of money and time. I think it would be better for schools to find another measure, not sure what (leave it to each program). However, I have to admit that I am not a big fan of standardized test. I my view, this is nothing short of a mob like monopoly by few groups (ETS etc.).

7. joelcairo - December 09, 2009 at 04:27 pm

In the few years since the SAT did away with its vocabulary sections, I have noticed that my students' familiarity with words that might constitute an elevated vocabulary is sorely lacking. I'm not saying there's necessarily a connection, but at least the old SAT format encouraged students to know words that could facilitate their transition to higher-level thinking and writing. Goodness knows, they're certainly not reading widely enough to acquire a large working vocabulary organically. Now, I have college seniors look at me blankly when I use words like "litigious" or "double entendre."

On a different note, I'm glad my graduate school days are behind me because I would not want to have to take the new GRE. The vocabulary sections were wonderful because I could race through them and spend lots of time on the comprehension sections. It was a great strategy that paid off handsomely for me.

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