Students, schools adapt to new version of GRE

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November 8, 2011

1:11 AM

Amidst the flurry of Banner stalking and professor-charming students employ to receive admittance to classes fulfilling General Education Requirements (GERs), many seniors are looking beyond the College of William and Mary by taking the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). A revised version of the GRE was instituted Aug. 1.

The updated computerized test is scored differently than previous versions and allows test takers to return to questions within sections.

Dean of Graduate Studies and Research in Arts and Sciences Laurie Sanderson handles admissions for aspiring graduate students, whose applications require submission of the new GRE scores.

“Fortunately for students, while ETS has changed the type of questions asked in the verbal and the quantitative sections, the way that the test is used should remain fairly stable,” Sanderson said.

To facilitate harmony between the two versions, the score scale now ranges from 130-170 for verbal and quantitative sections instead of the previous 200-800 range. But test takers still receive reports about which percentile they scored in relative to other test takers.

“Students should feel reassured that they can continue using the percentile to compare to their previous scores, and that they are not being disadvantaged in any way,” Sanderson said.

Most revisions of the test occur within the verbal section. Instead of antonyms and analogies, ETS has included more complex reasoning and definition identification questions.

“I believe ETS wanted to write questions in a style more relevant to today’s student, so perhaps they wanted to make it more analytical, and perhaps a bit less [about] memorization of vocabulary,” Sanderson said.

Director of MBA Admissions Amanda Barth attributes this change to the Mason School of Business’s recent inclusion of the GRE in its application process.

“The fact that they are doing more work with the quantitative part of the test heightens the confidence of graduate business schools to consider the exam,” Barth said.

The business school began accepting the GRE in the fall of 2010. Although the business school still recommends the GMAT over the GRE, Barth stated that about two years ago, 300 business schools decided to begin accepting the GRE. Because of the GRE’s recent changes, the business school may be able to attract applicants from more varied backgrounds.

“ETS is constantly evolving and revising the GRE to be more broad-based,” Barth said, “and accepting the GRE encourages diversity among the admitted students.”

Some students adjusted study methods for the exam to better adapt to the changes.

“For me, I focused more on math because they made a lot of changes to that section,” Meghan Brown ’12 and recent GRE taker said. “I also studied a lot more because they added a new type of question where there is not one correct answer, but three.”

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