GRE see sweeping changes

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The Graduate Record Exam will undergo significant changes for 2011 test takers. The test required for most students to enter a graduate program has historically been two parts, a quantitative math section and a verbal section which tests a student’s vocabulary, reading comprehension and logic.

Former test takers may recall doing practice sections for Educational Testing Services to examine for future changes to the exam, and after canceling plans to change the test in 2006 and 2007, it seems 2011 will be the year for these big changes.

Educational Testing Services, maker of the GRE, has planned to change the format of the difficult exam in three major areas. Test takers will have the option of skipping questions and returning to them later — which is currently not available on the computer-based exam. This change will also include the option of going back to change answers.

The way the exam is scored will also change, as Educational Testing Services will take the current grade system that fluctuates on ten point increments between 200-800 to one point increments on a scale of 130-170.

The final change is the elimination of analogy and antonym questions in the verbal section. More reading comprehension is expected to replace these questions. 2011 test takers can also expect fewer geometry problems in the quantitative section and the aid of calculators.

“A longer test and a likely shift to more complex math problems with the introduction of an online calculator will make many test takers apprehensive about the new GRE,” said Liza Weale, executive director of graduate programs of Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions.

Kaplan also reports that these are the most sweeping changes the GRE has seen in its 59-year history.

The GRE is taken by more than 600,000 students annually.

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