After four years of research, and with guidance from the graduate education community, ETS is completing the most significant overhaul of the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) General Test in the test’s 55-year history. The revamped GRE General Test will be offered for the first time in October 2006.
Each of the GRE General Test’s three sections — Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing — will have different types of questions and new formats. ETS expects the changes to increase the validity of the test. The changes will also provide graduate schools with better information on an applicant’s performance, address security concerns, and maximize technology to make better use of computer-enabled questions.
“The changes to the GRE General Test are significant,” says David Payne, Executive Director of the GRE Program in ETS’s Higher Education Division. “The new test will emphasize complex reasoning skills that are closely aligned to graduate work. We’ll include more real-life scenarios and data interpretation questions, and new, more focused writing questions. In addition, the Verbal and Quantitative sections will have new score scales. This will improve the GRE test’s usefulness to students and graduate schools.”
The new GRE General Test will be slightly over four hours long, an increase from the current two-and-a-half-hour exam. It will also no longer be offered in a computer-adaptive format, where the difficulty of the test is determined by the test taker’s right or wrong answers. Instead, it will be offered in a linear format, in which every student takes the same exam.
Changes to the Verbal Reasoning measure include:
* two 40-minute sections rather than one 30-minute section
* greater emphasis on higher cognitive skills and less dependence on vocabulary
* a broader selection of reading passages including sentence-equivalence questions
* expansion of computer-enabled tasks
Changes to the Quantitative Reasoning measure include:
* two 40-minute sections rather than one 45-minute section
* fewer geometry questions
* more real-life scenarios and data interpretation questions
* on-screen, four-function calculator with square-root feature
Changes to the Analytical Writing measure include:
* 15 minutes shorter
* more focused questions to ensure original analytical writing
* 30-minute argument and issue tasks
Each test will also contain a variable section that will not count toward a test taker’s score but will be used to select questions for future versions of the exam.
“These changes are intended to make the GRE General Test a more accurate gauge of how qualified prospective students are to do graduate-level work,” Payne explains. “We’ll also offer more interpretive information to graduate deans and faculty, including providing access to test takers’ essay responses on the Analytical Writing section.”
Because the number and type of questions on the Verbal and Quantitative sections of the revised General Test will be different, the traditional point scale of 200 to 800 on these sections will be replaced. The new scale will have 40 to 50 scale points and will be centered somewhere between 120 and 179. The final range may vary slightly, depending on the results of field testing that will conclude in November.
Also, unlike the current exam, each version of the revised GRE General Test will be used only once, and no test takers will encounter the same questions on different dates. Instead of continuous testing, the exam will be given 29 times a year worldwide. The number of administrations in any given region will depend on the test volumes in that region.
The revised GRE General Test will be administered in the ETS global network of Internet-based test centers and through Thomson Prometric, the world’s largest computer-based testing network.