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New GRE Designed to Better Serve Grad Schools

Educational Testing Services (ETS) implemented a wealth of changes to the Graduate Records Examination, or GRE, last month. The new test is an hour longer, and each section now adapts to individual student performance.

"The better a test-taker performs in one section, the more difficult the next section will be," said Russell Schaffer, a Kaplan Test Prep spokesperson. Some portions of the test have been eliminated for outdated relevance, such as vocabulary. Where the old test measured student knowledge of antonyms and "___ is to ___ as ___ is to ___" analogies, the new GRE verbal section measures similar skills in new ways, using contextual questions. The old, isolated examples required more memorization than actual aptitude, according to Kaplan's director of graduate programs Lee Weiss.

"Having a great vocabulary doesn't necessarily make you a better graduate student than someone who doesn't memorize words as well as you do," Weiss said. The new GRE also allows students to skip over and return later to troublesome questions, which may reduce anxiety over getting stuck on a particular issue.

Weiss added that the changes were implemented in part due to criticism from graduate schools, who said the old test didn't adequately prepare students for the type of reasoning and learning that would be expected of them in a graduate program. The ETS advises preparing for the GRE for about two to three months, but it seems some college seniors are not intimidated by the challenge.

"I don't believe in studying for [the GRE] a lot," said San Francisco State senior Nhaca Le. "It's supposed to test your aptitude." Some believe additional studying for a test that is supposed to measure how you've grown in your undergraduate program is contrary to the nature of the exam.

Others worry about being the first group to take the revised test, citing concerns over what are often low first-round scores in recently changed tests. Despite reservations, quite a number of people are signing up already to take the new test. A spokesperson for ETS, Christine Betaneli, said that enrollment had increased recently, which could be in part due to the half-price cost for the months of August and September, and could also be a reflection of those excited to explore the GRE's new features. Weiss too said that enrollment in Kaplan's GRE prep courses had increased since the testing center updated curriculum in March to cover the new GRE.

According to the ETS website, about 675,000 graduate and business school hopefuls from 230 regions and countries around the world take the GRE. It's an important step in applying for Masters Degree Programs . Historically, the GMAT was required for admission to business schools. Now prospective Masters in Business Administration students can often use GRE scores in their applications, just like their no GMAT MBA counterparts. The popularity of the GRE as an acceptable measurement for business schools has increased quite a bit in recent years.

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