Changes coming to GRE this fall
April 25, 2011 —
For some, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a nightmare. For others, it’s the golden pass to a bright and shining future. In reality, it’s a little bit of both.
Beginning in the fall 2011 semester, the GRE General Test will be revised.
According to the official GRE website, students can expect changes to include new types of questions in the verbal reasoning and quantitative sections.
Sections of the General Test currently include verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing skills. Each section is graded on an 800-point scale.
For students deciding to go to graduate school after their undergraduate studies, graduate schools will require a score from the GRE, which is completed electronically.
There are also GRE Subject Area tests that can be taken, but not all graduate programs require these tests. Applicants will find that many prospective institutions will request scores on the general test.
Since programs differ in requirements, students are advised to check for application requirements from their respective universities.
For those planning to take the exam, professor of English Elizabeth Rich said that she advises students to be mindful of the time between taking the test and sending out the graduate school application.
“Because most programs require the GRE, it is good to complete it before or as near as possible to one's application submission,” Rich said.
Students should plan to take the current version of the test if they need scores before November. If students don’t need scores until after November, they are advised to take the new version of the test because universities will begin to follow the revised edition.
Rich, the chair of the English department, said that studying for the GRE involves a large amount of time and practice.
She said other students have mentioned that “taking a year to prepare, a little each day, is a far better practice than cramming in the last couple of months before the exam.”
Assistant professor of English Daniel Cook said that preparing to take the test will help students succeed in the testing room.
“It’s a very beatable test, depending on how willing you are to completely throw yourself into the preparation process,” he said.
Students who walk into the testing room on the day of the exam not knowing what to expect can see their scores suffer.
Cook said that he recommends students spend several months reading from different sources such as GRE study booklets and taking practice examinations from publishers such as Princeton, Kaplan and Barron.
“Eventually, if you’re very methodical, you’ll start to anticipate the patterns that tend to assert themselves on the test,” he said. “You’ll develop a more extensive vocabulary and become a much faster reader.”
Mastering the GRE can show graduate universities and prospective employers the work ethic of a student. Even though it is an important test, Cook said that students shouldn’t despair or see the test as an end all, be all.
“You have to allow yourself not to be locked up when you take the test,” he said.
SVSU English alumnus Elyse Vigiletti took the GRE in 2008. To study for the test, Vigiletti said that she spent the summer before taking the test getting used to the test’s format.
“Kaplan's GRE vocabulary flashcards were hands-down the most useful thing I used,” she said. “I also used the Barron GRE prep book, which was accessible, practical and included some software so I could familiarize myself with the GRE computer-adaptive testing interface.”
She said that the biggest piece of advice from her experience is to be confident in your abilities. “You can’t give the test too much power as a measure of your talent, intelligence or competence,” she said. “Do your best, but don't internalize it.”
Students who are interested in signing up for the GRE are encouraged to visit the test’s website for testing dates and locations.