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New GRE will better suit students' skills

The revised Graduate Record Examination, set to debut in 2011, is expected to be a more valid test and, ultimately, improve graduate departments' ability to select students who best fit their programs.

"The scores that students earn will better reflect their ability to succeed in graduate school," says psychologist Kurt Geisinger, PhD, who directs the Buros Center for Testing at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and chaired the committee that approved most of the test changes.

Several changes to the test will enable psychology students to demonstrate their potential, Geisinger adds. They include:

  • Replacing analogies and antonyms with more questions on reading comprehension, a skill that's crucial in graduate school.

  • Reducing the number of geometry questions and adding questions related to data analysis, which is a math skill more closely related to grad school success.

  • Allowing students who take the computer version of the test to skip questions and return to them later and even change answers if they think they've made a mistake.

Other changes to the GRE will include:

  • Providing test takers with an electronic calculator so that mathematics answers will be based on test takers' comprehension of concepts, not their speed at basic calculations.

  • Increasing the exam time by 45 minutes to account for the extra time it takes to answer reading comprehension questions.

In addition, the test will have a new scoring scale for its verbal and quantitative sections, a change that was necessary due to the considerable changes made to the test. The new scale will range from 130 to 170, with score increments of one point as opposed to the current GRE scale, which ranges from 200 to 800, with score increments of 10 points.

B. Azar