GRE implementing different format and scale for 2011

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    A new scoring scale, a different test format and new question types will be among the changes to the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) that will meet future graduate and business students beginning Aug. 1, 2011, according to a representative of the organization that administers the test.

    Dawn Piacentino, director of GRE communications and services, said the new design for the test included features that would enable a student to mark, skip and return to questions within a section and use an on-screen calculator in the quantitative reasoning section. She said a redesigned analytical writing section would also require students to provide more focused responses to the topics given. It doesn’t necessarily make it easier or difficult, but what it does is it more closely aligns it with the kinds of things students do in graduate or business school,” Piacentino said. According to the Educational Testing Service’s website, which administers the exam, the GRE is a three-part test required for entrance into most graduate and business programs.

    According to a press release from ETS, the new question types would show students more real-life scenarios and place a greater emphasis on comprehension within context. Another feature would require test-takers to write in some of their mathematical answers instead of choosing the answer from a list, according to the ETS press release.

    Assistant Director of Career Advisement Matt Riordan said the new question format was better because of the real-life scenarios.

    “I think their idea of giving you a passage and asking you more critical inquiry skills on the passage or the information that you’ve just immediately taken in8212;I think that’s a little bit better of a real-world test on how are you going to function day-in, day-out in the graduate program,” he said.

    According to the ETS website, the new scoring scale would change from a range of 200 to 800 at 10-point increments to a range of 130 to 170 at one-point increments. The change would help reduce the appearance of wide gaps in scores between students who score similarly.

    “I think it gives a little bit better idea of how you stack up to the next person, because the margin for error is just that much less,” Riordan said. “Pragmatically, I do wonder what’s going to happen with the transition but in the end I think it’s going to be a better measure than it was.”

    According to the press release, ETS also released free online test preparation materials in July so students could get acquainted with the revised exam. Prep material for the current exam was also available on the GRE website.

    Piacentino said students should download the materials to increase their familiarity with the new format.

    “The more familiar students are with the material, the chances are better that they can do their best when they actually sit down to take the test,” she said.

    According to a June press release from ETS, test-takers will receive a 50 percent discount between Aug. 1 and Sept. 30, 2011. ETS said it hoped to gain more interest in the GRE with students returning from the summer break.

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