G.R.E. testing changes to be implemented by 2011

The changes come nearly three years after they were first discussed.

by Anissa Stocks

The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) , a test taken by 600,000 students across the world each year, will look significantly different in 2011. The Educational Testing Service , which administers the exam, announced its plans to revamp the GRE. on Dec. 4, calling the changes the âÄúlargest revisionsâÄù in the testâÄôs history. ETS spokesman Tom Ewing said changes have been a âÄúlong time coming.âÄù ETS first announced changes in 2006, but delayed making them until 2007 to add more Internet-based test centers. In 2007, it canceled the planned changes. The new test will include a new grading scale and an increased emphasis on reasoning and critical thinking skills, while focusing less on analogy and vocabulary sections. Changes to the computer systems the test is administered through will allow students to skip questions and come back later to complete them before finishing the section. Previously, students could not go back to answer questions they skipped. The most significant change, Ewing said, will be in the types of prompts. âÄúThe questions asked will be more focused and require thoughtful responses rather than strictly memorization,âÄù he said. Ewing said exam changes will benefit future test takers. âÄúThe test is going to be easier to take âĦ ItâÄôs basically going to do away with some relatively outmoded types of questions,âÄù he said. âÄúThe new test will be less subject to coaching and memorization.âÄù Graduate student Tyler Price , who took the exam last year, said students who take the GRE after 2011 will have an advantage to those who took it before the change. âÄúI distinctly remember two questions I wished I was able to change my answer,âÄù he said. Ewing cited computer adaptivity as an important change. âÄúStudents are going to love it,âÄù he said. The Princeton Review, a test preparation company, is currently developing new test training methods as a result of the test changes, said Neill Seltzer , national content director for GRE. âÄúThe new test will be as predictable and as coachable as the old tests,âÄù he said. Much of the delay in revising the test was due to strong push back from admissions officers at various schools, Seltzer said. Ewing said testing companies such as The Princeton Review will have a more challenging time applying new methods of training based on exam changes. âÄúWeâÄôre not entirely convinced that these expensive, time consuming coaching courses are actually worth the investment âĦ The coaching companies are in it to make everybody worry and [to] make [some] money,âÄù he said. University of Minnesota-Morris senior Kathy Julik-Heine took the current version of the GRE in early December and said she was surprised by her results, but she was hesitant to invest in a training course. Julik-Heine said practice tests available on the Internet are an inexpensive way to prepare for the exam. âÄúI happened to have a friend lend me their books,âÄù she said. âÄúIf I didnâÄôt take the practice exams, I would have gone into [the test] âĦ blind.âÄù