GRE changes in the near future

After 55 years of administering the same GRE test, ETS-the infamous board overseeing the SAT-has decided to change the test’s format, attempting to make it a more representative assessment of the knowledge required for graduate school admission.

The GRE, or Graduate Record Exam, is an important test given to an estimated 500,000 students seeking admission to grad school each year, according to Kaplan Test Prep.

“The current test is a computer adaptive test, designed to adapt to the responses provided by the test taker, becoming more difficult as the student answers questions correctly and easier as the student misses questions,” said Sean Lynch, director of marketing and outreach for the Princeton Review of South Florida.

The test consists of quantitative or math, verbal and essay sections, and is about two hours long.

“ETS claims that the new test will more accurately test the critical thinking and complex reasoning skills that are necessary for succeeding in graduate school,” said Matt Fidler, the GRE program manager of Kaplan in New York.

“The new test is a computer-based test, where all of the questions are the same regardless of how a student does on the preceding question,” Lynch said.

Fidler said the new test will have changes in questions and content. The antonym and analogy sections will be replaced with more reading comprehension questions, and much of the geometry section will be replaced with data interpretation.

“One new and interesting type of question is a math question with no answer choices,” Fidler said. “The student must type in the answer.”

He explains that many students are worried that this type of questions leaves them with no “security blanket.”

Not only are changes being made to the actual content of the test, but ETS is almost doubling the length of the exam to approximately four hours. The cost of the exam will also increase.

Fortunately for those planning to take the GRE in the near future, ETS recently announced that it will delay the change from October 2006 to fall 2007.

According to Fidler, ETS said that its reason for delaying administration of the new test was that “logistically, they were unable to get enough test centers to meet the standards.”

Lynch said that The Princeton Review doesn’t buy ETS’ excuse.

“We believe that the test isn’t ready because, in all likelihood, there are serious problems with its predictive value,” he said. “We have gotten the impression that the research and development results aren’t doing what ETS needs them to do, [which is to] serve as a reasonably reliable indicator of a student’s level of preparation for the rigors of graduate school.”

Thus, they feel strongly that the new test is less reliable in determining a student’s grad school preparedness.

“We at The Princeton Review think that ETS is full of crap. We feel [the test] will be less accurate, less fair and a bigger burden on students,” Lynch said.

While The Princeton Review has little faith in the effectiveness of this new GRE test, Kaplan cannot make an assumption.

“It is difficult to say, a year and a half before the release, but time will tell,” Fidler said.

Taylor Pashley can be contacted at