By the end of next year, UCSB students planning to attend post-graduate programs will need to build up more than a wealth of academic knowledge; they will also need endurance, as the testing time for the Graduate Record Examination is set to increase by one and a half hours.
The Educational Testing Service, the organization that designs and administers the majority of standardized exams in the U.S., recently announced plans to release a new version of the GRE in fall of 2007. Changes planned for the test, which is designed to evaluate the verbal, mathematical and writing skills of students applying to graduate school, include altered question formatting and a revamped grading scale.
According to the GRE website, ETS’s recent modifications have substantially increased the time required to complete the test. Jung Lee, program manager for the GRE at Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions, said the changes will also create new obstacles for potential test-takers.
“The new GRE will rely more on stamina and will also be offered less often than in previous years,” Lee said.
Besides the increased amount of time needed to complete the new exam – students will now need four hours rather than the original two and a half – the redesigned GRE will incorporate substantial changes in content and format.
According to the GRE website, the new version will transition from the traditional paper-and-pencil system to an internet-based method of answering questions in the quantitative reasoning section. The mathematics portion of the exam will also employ computer technology, integrating an onscreen calculator and specially designed math software program.
In addition, the new test will measure different academic abilities than the previous version did. For example, the verbal reasoning section will focus more on evaluating a test taker’s complex reasoning and reading comprehension skills, and less on memory-based knowledge like vocabulary. In addition, the quantitative reasoning section for the new test will be centered less on geometry and more on things like data analysis and elementary mathematical skills.
The scoring scales for these sections in the new version of the exam are also set to change: The previous 200 to 800 point scale will be restructured to a new range of 130 to 170 points. However, the analytical writing section will remain in its current form, as a six-point evaluative scale.
Lee said ETS has not yet released a conversion table for the two versions of scoring ranges.
Changes will also be made to the analytical essay section, which will now feature a more specific prompt. Also, for the first time, graduate school admissions deans will be able to read the essays test-takers submit for this section of the exam.
Lee said he recommends graduate school applicants that have not completed their undergraduate studies take the GRE before fall quarter begins in 2007. He said this is necessary because the new version will be more academically demanding and thus require more advance preparation, which would make taking regular classes while preparing for the test more difficult, he said.
Lee said that besides the dramatic alterations being made to the curriculum, format and scoring aspects of the GRE, the new format will most likely amplify the exam’s already-competitive nature. The changes, he said, constitute one of the most significant increases in the demand imposed on test-takers to perform well in all of the test’s subject areas.
“This is the most significant change in the GRE’s 55-year history,” Lee said