GRE to see some changes

The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) will change August 2011, in hopes that the new format and test questions will better reflect what students need to know in the real world and show graduate schools the depth of knowledge applicants have. The content and format of the test will change, said USU testing supervisor Eric Jensen. The types of questions asked in each section has been modified for a more up-to-date feel, he said. “The argument has been ‘what does this test have to do with real life situations?’ There will be improvements to it. It is more like what we see in real life,” Jensen said. Business graduate student Matt Todd said when he took the GRE it was just “another hoop to jump through,” and the things he was tested on don’t really have anything to do with what he has learned in grad school. “I think there are so many other factors that go into success that are beyond standardize tests,” Todd said. “The GRE, in my opinion, certainly didn’t test on anything you are going to get in graduate programs.” It’s that overall feeling that the test companies want to change, Fawson said. She said the new GRE questions will make students apply what they have learned and will make it easier for students who show that they have the skills graduate schools are looking for. April Fawson, graduate admissions officer, said it is going to be easier for students to articulate their ideas. According to the new GRE website, the questions focus more on the “types of skills that are required to meet today’s demanding graduate and business school expectations.” Fawson said with the current version, students make decisions based on minute differences in skill. With the changes to how questions are asked, it will better represent college reasoning and analytical skills, she said. With these changes, Fawson said the scores will better reflect the differences between two students. Right now, she said graduate schools make a decision about an applicant when they see a student with a score of 600 and a student with a score of 650 and think it is a huge difference when it was only a one- or two-point difference. The current scoring system has the verbal and quantitative reasoning scores with a 200-800 scale with 10-point increments and the analytical writing has a 0-6 point scale with half-point increments. With the new GRE, the scoring for the analytical writing section will stay the same, but the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections will have a 130-170 scale with one-point increments. According to the GRE website, with these changes, “small differences in scoring will look like small differences, while bigger differences will continue to stand out.” With the concern that graduate schools won’t know how to compare the scores from the current and new test, Jensen said each school will be getting a score comparison chart while the new GRE is transitioning.

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