GRE gets relevant

GRE's and other modes of standardized testing are never popular. They are critiqued for many things, including that the test are simply an expensive game one must learn how to master. While the intention may be that these tests measure the education and ability of the participant, students understand that they need to be taught the test as well as the content. Success depends not only memorizing the recondite vocabulary but employing a large number of tips, tricks, and strategy. GRE's can, but not always, be used as an initial cutting point for graduate school applications, and once accepted, used to determine scholarships and funding.  I think the most persuasive critique is that performing well on the GRE is not a great predictor of success in graduate school and beyond.

That being said, I'm thrilled to report that the GRE has been revised! Testers will be relieved to know that antonyms and analogies have been removed.

There is a new scoring system with one point increments instead of ten, and the scale ranges from 130-170. The new test also lets you "edit or change your answers, skip questions and more, all within a section." 

From the ETS website:

Verbal Reasoning: No More Antonyms and Analogies. More Focus on Reading.

The GRE revised General Test places a greater emphasis on higher-level cognitive skills. Featuring new types of questions, the Verbal Reasoning section of the revised test more closely reflects the kind of thinking you'll do in graduate or business school, and better measures your ability to understand what you read and how you apply your reasoning skills.

Here's what is new for the Verbal Reasoning section:

Antonyms and analogies have been removed from the test, so there are no questions that test vocabulary out of context.

New Text Completion questions test your ability to interpret, evaluate and reason from what you've read. Text Completion questions test this ability by omitting crucial words from short passages, requiring you to fill them in by selecting words or phrases.

New Sentence Equivalence questions test your ability to reach a conclusion about how a sentence should be completed while focusing on the meaning of the whole sentence.

There are more Reading Comprehension questions on the test, including new types of questions, such as selecting multiple correct answer choices instead of just one, or highlighting a sentence within a reading passage to answer the question.

What will this mean for people with old GRE scores? It is hard to say how programs will compare the two, and if the scores will have more or less influence in admissions. If the test is, in some sense, easier will its weight be diminished? I wonder what cultivated this much needed change.

If you are a planning on taking the GRE or are on an admissions committee, I'd love to hear your initial thoughts as comments below. Bonus points for using your favorite GRE vocabulary word in your response.

About the Author

Michael Bruce

Michael Bruce works with at-risk youth and is the editor of College Sex - Philosophy for Everyone: Philosophers With Benefits (Wiley-Blackwell).

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