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Students say updated GRE is upped challenge

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An overhaul to the Graduate Record Examination will subject graduate school hopefuls to a longer version of the test that some are calling more difficult.

Thousands of students take the GRE every year in preparation for application to graduate school. Educational Testing Service launched the revised test on Aug. 1, which includes the most substantive changes to the test in its history, according to Christine Betaneli, manager of external relations for the GRE Program.

Format changes to the computerized test include allowing students to skip, mark and return to questions during the test as well as providing an on-screen calculator. Content questions are more focused on reasoning, and the scoring of the test has changed.

Betaneli said the changes reflect the skills students need to succeed in business and graduate schools today. Michael Flynn, executive director of Grad Pros Educational Consulting, said the revised test is more difficult to prevent score inflation.

“The way to separate scores is to change the questions and change the timing,” said Flynn, who teaches GRE workshops at the UA. “They definitely tweaked both of those factors.”

The GRE was previously scored on a scale of 200 to 800 and moved in increments of 10 for the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections. The new scale is 130 to 170 per section moving in one-point increments.

“It better allows institutions to compare candidates,” Betaneli said.

Concepts tested by the GRE have remained the same, Betaneli said. However, the antonym and analogy sections were removed and the math section has a reduced focus on basic computation.

The test has more sections and slightly more questions but is not more necessarily more challenging, Betaneli said.

“We get that question a lot,” she said. “We did not design the test to be more difficult or easier. It assesses the same skills as before.”

Flynn said he prepares students for the test in the same way as before though there are fewer practice tests available for the revised version.

“The biggest obstacle at this moment is having enough practice materials to work with,” Flynn said.

UA alumnus Mark Schumaker graduated in 2008 and wants to attend graduate school for social work. He is taking the revised GRE at the end of September to take

advantage of the 50 percent discount offered by Educational Testing Service for students taking the test next month.

Schumaker said he thinks the new version of the test is harder but will not negatively affect him.

“I’m glad the analogies are gone,” he said. “I wouldn’t do well, so that helps.”

Brandon Terrizzi, a psychology and philosophy senior, took the revised test in early August. He said the length and lack of study materials were the most difficult aspects of the exam.

Terrizzi plans on taking the test again and said he thinks scores have dropped as a result of the revisions.

“Looking at the distribution, I imagine it’s more realistic now,” he said.

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