The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is one of the most important standardised tests that international students applying to American universities need to take. The reasons are simple: GRE scores are used by admissions officers to compare students from a large range of educational backgrounds on a common metric; the scores are also useful for assessing whether students can be given scholarships and various kinds of financial aid. Since the format of the GRE is changing on August 1, 2011, let’s take a closer look at the changes:
> OVERALL INTERFACE
New GRE computer-based test will no longer prevent students from surveying the entire section of a test. Students are now allowed to examine, mark, review and tag questions. This will allow students to decide the sequence of questions needed to optimise the score. Students can also edit answers as long as they stay within each section of the test. In the mathematical ability testing section, an onscreen calculator will be provided, and students can put in numeric entries on the screen itself. Overall, it will be more user-centric and user-friendly.
New GRE computerbased test will allow students to survey the entire section Greater focus on vocabulary as it is used Verbal and quantitative reasoning sections will be scored on a 130-170 scale, with 1 point increments > VERBAL REASONING
In the verbal section, students can highlight sentences in a passage testing reading comprehension. This is helpful to enable closer focus on a key idea in that passage. A very important change is that the emphasis of the new GRE will be on vocabulary as it is used rather than the usage of vocabulary in isolation.
So students don’t need to stress out on memorising long vocabulary lists: rather than memorising, a better sense of the appropriate usage of a word in context will now be tested — skills that will matter in the real world of work and graduate studies in the US — and other parts of the world.
The new text completion section will test the ability to assess and make inferences based on what students have read in a passage. Given a reduced emphasis on individual vocabulary, students will need to interpret and evaluate the larger grain of what an author is trying to argue, so focusing on the meaning of the entire sentence rather than individual words will be tested. These are skill-sets that the ETS seeks to test. In particular, this move will ensure the relevance of GRE for those going for studies at the postgraduate level and even for MBA programmes or business studies.
> SCORING SCALES
This is a significant change in the GRE that merits attention. Unlike the existing 200-800 scale with 10 point increments, both the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections will be scored on a 130-170 scale, with 1 point increments. What does this mean? Basically what this change indicates is a more finegrained differentiation between candidates.