Changes made to the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) test were designed to make it easier for students to take.
The GRE is the most widely accepted graduates admissions test that students who are looking to continue onto graduate or business school to obtain a master’s degree or PhD usually take. This year, an updated test was released for students to take. Christine Betaneli, a spokesperson for Educational Testing Services (ETS), the company who administers the GRE test, said that the changes were several years in the making.
“The reasons for doing so were really to better align the test with the kind of skills that students need to succeed in graduate and business school today,” Betaneli said. “The programs are more demanding than ever and we wanted to make sure that the test reflects those skills that they need for success.”
Betaneli said that changes in the test make it more student-friendly. There were major changes in two aspects of the test — one to the test content and the other to the test design. The major change to the test content is the quantitative assessment section. The original test consisted mostly of basic computation questions with no access to a calculator. Now, an on screen calculator is provided and the questions focus more on real life scenarios and data interpretation.
“(There are) questions that are really going to allow them to show their quantitative reasoning ability,” Betaneli said.
Some of the changes on the test design include allowing students to move back and forth between the questions. According to Betaneli, on the original test, if students skipped past a question, it was entered as unanswered. Now students can skip a question and come back to it, mark a question for review, and preview sections of the test to make sure all questions were answered.
“Students are now able to use more of their own test-taking strategies,” Betaneli said. “So that flexibility within each section of the test really gives students the opportunity to go back and use some of their own test taking strategies.”
This is a feature that Justine Pinskey, a graduate teaching assistant in the biology department, said she enjoyed. Pinskey has taken both version of the GRE test.
“With the old GRE, you could only see one question at a time, and you had to choose an answer before moving on to the next question. That made it extremely difficult to manage your time,” Pinskey said. “The new GRE allows you to use all of the test-taking strategies you have learned throughout school. You can skip the more difficult questions and go back to them if you have time.”
Pinskey prepared for taking the GRE by taking a prep course with Andrew Poe, an assistant professor of computer science, throughout the winter season and summer. Aside from the material she got from Poe, Pinskey also took online quizzes that she brought in for the two to go over.
“It helped tremendously to go through each section of the test, doing practice problems and learning strategies to use on test day,” Pinskey said. “I felt extremely prepared on the day of the test. It helped just to be familiar with the sections of the GRE and the different question types.”
Poe said that because of the changes, he doesn’t have as many professional resources available to him, which will change in the next couple years, but he will continue to teach the seminar in much the same way. He encourages students to attend the seminar.
“I’ve been offering GRE prep since 2001 and I’ve heard good things about it, helped get people to grad and so forth and so on,” Poe said. “It’s free and if you want to go to grad school, why not come?”