The New GRE
|Andrea Graves, DMA|
An Introduction to the GRE® Revised General Test
Many of you had to take the GRE to be admitted to your graduate program. Others who did not may need to take the GRE in future to pursue an additional graduate degree, while some may want to try again in the quest for higher scores. NAU Student Learning Centers now offer GRE and GMAT Test Prep Courses to help you do your very best. And if you took the GRE before August 2011, you will find that things have changed—a lot! See information and success strategies below.
Dawn Piacentino, program director for the GRE, says the revised general test “now measures skills that are more likely to be used by graduate students. Grad students are not likely to be doing analogies, but are more likely to be reading and interpreting reading passages.” Analogies—discredited as testing out of context and too easy to memorize—are out. Calculators are in. Students are accustomed to using them, Ms. Piacentino says. “It allows them to focus more on comprehensive reasoning than calculation.” Also, the computer adaptability has been improved. Questions will get harder or simpler based on how the test taker does in a section, rather than how s/he does on individual questions (New York Times, April 2011).
Registration and Fees
For test takers demonstrating financial need, unemployment, or those affiliated with programs such as McNair Scholars, Gates Millennium, Project 1000, GEM, and PREP, there is a GRE Fee Reduction Program.
Test takers are allotted 3 hours 45 minutes for the test. The directions at the beginning of each Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning section specify the total number of questions in the section and the time allowed for the section. In the Analytical Writing section, test takers should allow sufficient time to think about the topic, plan a response, and compose the essay within the 30-minute time limit for each task.
Scoring and Reporting
All score reports now include background information on the test taker including:
The new ScoreSelectSM option allows test takers to choose which test scores from the last five years they wish to report to institutions.
Strategies for Success
Practice method over results. Develop a method for recognizing patterns and “tricks” in the question-and-answer formatting rather than memorizing correct answers. Practice reading questions, then quickly assessing what response the question is really asking for. Understand the benefits and caveats of the new “mark and review” feature. You can see what you’ve answered or marked for review and change answers within the time allotted for each section, but you’ve got to budget your time and not get distracted by second-guessing your answers. Also, remember that your score is determined by the number of correct answers; nothing is subtracted from your score for wrong answers. So, it’s best to answer every question.
See the big picture. Test takers are usually taking the test for a major life goal such as entrance into graduate school and professional advancement. The test can seem daunting, especially for test takers who have been out of school for a while or are out of practice with analytical writing, algebra, and geometry. If you don’t achieve the score you need the first time, you can take the test again once every 30 days for a total of five tests within any continuous, rolling 12-month period. And remember, with ScoreSelect you have the option to send the scores that reflect your personal best.
Use your resources. There are plentiful resources in different formats including books, online tutorials, blogs, one-on-one tutoring, and test prep courses. Find full-length computer-based practice tests that simulate the actual test environment so you build stamina and feel comfortable navigating the test software. Your first resource should be the test makers themselves at www.ets.org/gre , followed by www.TaketheGRE.com and The Official Guide to the GRE® revised General Test with CD-ROM (second edition,McGraw-Hill, 2012). Finally, choose the resources that work best for your lifestyle and learning preferences. You will succeed!
For more information, visit NAU GRE & GMAT Test Prep Courses.
Educational Testing Service (ETS). The Official Guide to the GRE revised General Test. McGraw Hill, 2010.
—Andrea Graves, Program Coordinator Senior, NAU Student Learning Centers