A Longer, More Complex GRE is on the Horizon

Attention, all prospective MBA applicants considering taking the GRE as part of your entrance requirements. In six months, aspiring graduate school and business school students will face a vastly different and more difficult GRE ”“ one that will be about an hour longer than the current exam.

Beginning August 1, the new GRE will feature the following major changes:

  • The current 200 to 800 point scoring scale, in ten-point increments, will be replaced by a scoring scale of 130 to 170 points, in one-point increments.
  • The Quantitative section will include less geometry, but more data analysis. It will also introduce Numeric Entry questions, where test takers must provide an answer without having a selection of choices from which to choose.
  • An on-screen calculator will be available for test takers, which will likely mean more complex math problems.
  • The new GRE’s Verbal section won’t include antonym and analogy questions, but will include in-context questions that test reasoning skills, in addition to vocabulary.
  • The new GRE will also contain a new “strengthen/weaken” reading comprehension question type, similar to those on the GMAT ”“ the primary admissions exam for business schools.
  • The current GRE is adaptive at the question-level: answer a question correctly, and the next question is more difficult. The new GRE will be adaptive at the section level: the better a test taker performs in one section, the more difficult the next section will be. This new format will also allow test takers to skip questions within a section and come back to them, a function not available on the current test.

According to Liza Weale, executive director of pre-business and pre-graduate programs at Kaplan Test Prep, application deadlines are a key consideration for students deciding whether to take the current GRE or the new one. Because ETS, the exam’s administrator, needs to collect a statistically significant sample size of test takers to ensure score accuracy of the new test, test takers who take the exam in August, September and October won’t receive their official scores back until November ”“ meaning they’ll have to wait up to 3 months for their official scores.

“This will force many to miss application deadlines, and create undue stress for scrambling to retest if they’re not happy with their scores. If you need your score before November, you must take the current GRE before July,” says Weale. “Our advice to students: if you can take the current GRE do so ”“ it’s to your advantage.”

Kaplan Test Prep’s 2010 survey of graduate school admissions officers at top programs across the United States shows a GRE score is the most important admissions factor, ahead of an applicant’s undergraduate GPA, work experience, letters of recommendation and personal statement.

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