How Will You be Affected by the New GRE

Find out what GRE revisions will be in affect as of August 2011.

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To better reflect the ways in which you must think in graduate school or business school, Educational Testing Service (ETS) has made some significant revisions to the GRE structure and scoring. ETS began changing the GRE back in November 2007 by introducing fill-in-the-blank questions for the quantitative and verbal reasoning sections. Then in January of 2008, revisions to the reading comprehension in the verbal sections were made.

In order to keep up with the changes in masters degree and doctoral programs , ETS eventually decided to make bigger changes to the format of the GRE. The new test more accurately aligns with the types of problems that students come across in graduate schools. For example, there is now a greater emphasis placed on reading and no more analogies, which test-takers agreed could not be applied to the graduate school setting.

Due to the fact that it is such a new test, there is no rubric for graduate schools to determine how a score reflects the students ability to thrive in graduate school

Structure of the 2011 GRE Test

Although the test now takes up to four hours, the general structure of the GRE stays the same:

  1. Two verbal reasoning sections
  2. Two quantitative sections
  3. One analytical section
  4. Unscored section

However, the analogies and antonyms and sentence completion have been eliminated from the verbal reasoning sections. Instead, text completion and sentence equivalence have replaced the missing sections to test vocabulary. The quantitative section now includes more graphs and charts for data interpretation, fill-in-the-blank numeric entry questions and even some questions that require you to choose more than one correct answer.

Changes to GRE Format

The GRE is no longer a CAT, or computer-adaptive test, in which the computer adapts the exam's level of difficulty question-by-question. Instead, it is a multi-stage test or MST, which means that the computer waits until you have completed a section before adjusting the level of test questions. If you scored high in the first section, then your questions will be harder in the next round. However, if you score low in the first section, you will have easier questions in the next section, but it will be more difficult to obtain a high score on the section.

One of the main complaints of the old GRE is that test-takers were unable to go back and revise their answers after they have left the page. On the new GRE, there is both a “back” and “next” button, which allows you the flexibility to mark questions that you are unsure of and revise answers before completing a section. While this is a great advantage to have, be aware that you must still pace yourself as unanswered questions are heavily penalized in the GRE.

If you take the test before August 2011, you will not be able to use a calculator. However, the new test includes an on screen calculator. This may help some students, but keep in mind that many of the questions in the quantitative section can be completed without a calculator. They are designed to test your reasoning skills more than your computing skills.

Scoring Revisions to 2011 GRE

Scoring remains the same for the analytical section, which is on a scale of zero to six with 0.5 increments. However, the verbal and quatitative reasoning scores now range from 130 to 270 instead of 200 to 400. Now, rather than increasing by 10 point increments, it increases by 1 point.

What do these new revisions mean for you? When graduate schools are comparing two students' GRE scores on the current test, a student who scores 10 or 20 points higher than the other would be considered to have a significantly higher score. However, with the new scoring revisions, the scores would show up as a 1 or 2 point difference. Simply put, graduate school admissions committees are more accurately able to interpret and compare your GRE scores.

Students who take the old test are able to obtain their verbal and quantitative scores immediately after completing the test. The essay scores are sent to the student’s graduate school two to three weeks after they complete the test. For the new GRE test, you will not get your scores until November 2011 because the ETS can not accurately score the new GRE until a lot of people have taken the test.

Which exam you take is determined by when your graduate school requires your scores to be submitted. If you need to submit your scores before November 2011, then you should take the current test. However, if your school requires you to submit scores after November 2011, you should take advantage of the new test. By December 2011, ETS will return to reporting scores 10 to 15 days after the test is completed.

Disadvantages to Taking the New GRE

Some prospective graduate students are apprehensive about taking the revised GRE during the first few months of its release because the test is experimental, as there hasn’t been a group of students to complete the test yet. ETS has already released preparation software that reflects the new GRE so that students are ready to tackle the new format. However, other exam preparation companies might not have the most up-to-date test prep materials because they have not had a significant amount of time to study the new test.

Due to the fact that it is such a new test, there is no rubric for graduate schools to determine how a score reflects the students ability to thrive in graduate school. This may cause the admissions committee to put less weight on these scores.

Students who take the current GRE may be at an advantage because there are more study materials available for that test. Although this may be the case, if a student is unsatisfied with the score they receive, they will have to take the new test. This means studying for a completely different test, which could cause unnecessary anxiety and stress.

Special Discount on the 2011 Revised GRE

For a limited time, students who register to take the new GRE between August 1, 2011 and September 30, 2011 are able to receive a 50% discount on the test. Registration for the new test opens on March 15, 2011. If you want to take advantage of this special discount, you should sign up as soon as registration opens.

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Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Tests: The Basics
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