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New GRE test called ‘grueling’

BY BRITTANY TREVICK | AUGUST 25, 2011 7:20 AM

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Students taking the Graduate Record Examination will now face a test that underwent the biggest changes since it began more than 60 years ago.

These new changes, effective Aug. 1, include a longer test, more difficult questions, and new scoring scales.

“I know this is a long time coming,” said John Keller, the dean of the University of Iowa Graduate College. “[The test] will provide new and different and more comprehensive information that we were hoping to get out of the GRE.”

Until now, the last changes to the exam occurred in 2002, which involved removing the logical reasoning section and adding a writing section. But those changes were minor.

“The GRE [now] requires more preparation than ever before,” said Lee Weiss, Kaplan Test Prep’s director of graduate programs and a GRE instructor.

The changes come after graduate- and business-school officials said the old test didn’t reflect the skills needed to succeed in those programs.

“I think when you talk about the GRE, you have to keep your clients happy,” Weiss said. “The old test didn’t meet [graduate schools’] needs, then it had to be changed.”

Keller agreed, saying the new test is much more appropriate for students applying to graduate schools.

“[The test] is more indicative of the kinds of problems you face in graduate education,” he said. “It’s not a recitation of information, it’s more how do you use the information at your fingertips to address a question.”

Keller said the new test will take some getting used to, especially the new scoring system. In the past, students were scored on a scale from 200 to 800, but with the revised exam, the range is 130 to 170.

“I think it’s a good idea to have some changes ,” he said. “It’s kind of like, what does that really mean when a student who wants to go into history or English gets a 780 on the verbal? We want a broader scale.”

Weiss stressed the importance of the test’s new length, advising students to learn as much about the new test as possible and study the content before the day of the exam.

“[The test] is a much more rigorous test than it had been in the past,” he said.

Tessa Quintero, a senior and economics and geography major who took the revised test Aug. 1, said, for her, the hardest part of the GRE was the time allotted.

“The timing constraints are what really stressed me out,” she said. “That was probably the most difficult part.”

Quintero said one bonus of the test was the ability to go back and forth from question to question, but overall the exam proved difficult.

“I thought it was a grueling process,” she said. “I’m unsure of how to feel about my score.”

Although the test is more difficult than ever before, Weiss said, it will ultimately be beneficial for students.

“We are in the business of helping students get the scores they need,” he said. “Whatever tests are out there, we make sure students are going to be able to do their best on it.”


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