The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) launched its new revised version of its test Aug. 1 marking the largest change of the test in 60 years. The GRE has long been the standard admission test for graduate schools. The new test has new questions, an updated scoring scale, and a more user-friendly design. In honor of the major changes, the test will be offered at $80, half of its regular price, until September 30.

The new test allows test takers to skip questions within sections and return to edit answers. Questions were revised to reflect more real-life situations that occur in graduate or business schools.

One of the newest changes to the quantitative reasoning section, which centers on mathematics, allows an on screen calculator to assist with problems. Previously, the test had only allowed scratch paper and pencil.

Brian Rundle, a Baylor Neuroscience PhD student, had a chance to take the original test twice. He was given an opportunity to take the new Quantitative Reasoning section as a way to gather data on the new testing format.

“I found the quantitative reasoning section was more difficult with the newly added calculator on the screen. The degree of difficulty of the problems seemed to be harder with the calculator.”

According to the ETS website, the quantitative reason section is designed to “test basic mathematical skills, the understanding of elementary mathematical concepts, and the ability to reason quantitatively and to model and solve quantitative methods.”

The verbal reasoning section is designed to test “your ability to analyze and evaluate written material and synthesize information obtained from it, analyze relationships among component parts of sentences and recognize relationships among words and concepts.” The analytical writing section tests your critical thinking and analytical writing skills.

Another one of the major changes to the test is a revised scoring system. The original scoring system scored students between 200-800 in 10-point increments. The new system will score students between 130-170 in one-point increments. The new scale is supposed to create an easier way to compare graduate student candidates.

There are a number of ways to study for the GRE, but revision of the test has made the previous resources obsolete. At ets.org/gre there’s a section dedicated to preparing for the test including free resources.

Rundle recommends that people spend up to 2 months reviewing the material at least for 10-15 minutes every day. “I found the Princeton Review book on the GRE’s to be most helpful. Also, Dictionary.com has standardized flash cards and quizzes that helped me review.”

According to a study published in 2008, GRE scores were a great indicator of graduate school student success. For example, Biology students in the top GRE quartile were 5 times as likely to earn a 4.0 as students in the bottom GRE quartile. The study contained 4,451 students in six graduate fields: biology, chemistry, English, education, experimental psychology, and clinical psychology.

The test is 3 hours and 45 minutes long with 6 sections. There is a 10 minute break following the third section. The GRE scores are valid for five years. For more information about the GRE, logon to   www.ets.org/gre.

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