Wednesday, March 2, 2011
BY GERALD M. BRADSHAW
Bradshaw College Consulting
Dear Mr. Bradshaw: -- hear there are major changes being planned for the test, and I want to know more about them. I also plan to take a self-study prep course, which seems to be the most cost-effective way to prepare for the test. Am I making the right decision? What do you recommend? — GRE student
Dear GRE Student — I will answer your last question first. Although buying a course book and studying on your own is the least-expensive way to prepare for the test, those who avail themselves of one-on-one tutoring normally post the highest scores.
Most major test prep companies, including Kaplan and Princeton Review, offer live classes and individual tutorials for those planning to take the GRE.
There are many reasons to hire a tutor if you can afford one; in my opinion, it is worth the investment. A tutor will help direct your study habits and can determine areas where you need to strengthen your skill sets. At least check your community educational resources and the Internet to see if GRE classes with a live instructor are offered in your area.
Now to the GRE test itself. Big changes are, indeed, in the offing and will take effect Aug. 1. The exam, which is taken by more than 600,000 students annually, will be more complex than the current version. One of the biggest changes is, it will take an hour longer.
Another important point that students need to keep in mind is, those who take the exam in August, September and October will not receive their official scores until November. That means some students will have to wait up to three months for their results. This will force many to miss application deadlines, and there will be a rush to schedule retesting for those who are not happy with their initial scores. If you need your results before November, you must take the GRE before July.
Russell Schaffer, senior communications manager for Kaplan Test Prep, was kind enough to alert me to many of these changes.
“Our advice to students is, if you can take the current GRE, do so; it’s to your advantage,” Schaffer said.
Here are some other changes in the GRE.
◆ The quantitative section will include less geometry, but more data analysis.
◆ The new test will introduce numeric entry questions, in which students must provide an answer without having a selection of answers from which to choose.
◆ An on-screen calculator will be available, which likely will mean more complex math problems.
◆ The verbal section will not include antonym and analogy questions, but will have in-context questions that test reasoning skills, in addition to vocabulary.
◆ The new GRE will have a new “strengthen-weaken” reading comprehension question type, similar to those on the GMAT, the primary admissions exam for business schools.
◆ The current GRE is adaptive at the question level; if you answer a question correctly, the next question is more difficult. The new GRE will be adaptive at the section level; the better a student performs in one section, the more difficult the next section will be. The new format will allow students to skip questions within a section and come back to them, an option not available on the current exam.
◆ A scoring scale of 130 to 170 points, in one-point increments, will replace the current GRE’s 200- to 800-point scale, in 10-point increments.
◆ The current GRE is offered once a month, but after Aug. 1, you only can take it every 60 days. This is important if you plan to take it several times in an effort to increase your scores.
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