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What’s new with GRE?

Here’s all the info on the latest changes in GRE and other tests for those planning to study abroad

education Updated: Aug 17, 2011 10:11 IST
HT Horizons Correspondent

The revised Graduate Record Examination (GRE) – General Test was launched on August 1, said to be the ‘biggest change’ in its 60-year history. For the uninitiated, HT Horizons profiles the GRE and other major standardised tests needed for admission to international institutions and for immigration.

The GRE is required for admission to graduate programmes, including more than 600 MBAs, in many foreign universities. Every year, about 7 lakh aspirants take the GRE test, the scores of which are used for entry to thousands of graduate and business school courses globally.

The GRE general test is given as a computer-based test by appointment throughout the year at most centres. The three hour-45 minute test has six sections with a 10-minute break after the third (analytical writing is the first, while the others can appear in any order):

Analytical writing: “Analyse an issue” task and “Analyse an argument” task, 30 minutes per task

Verbal reasoning: Two sections with about 20 questions each, 30 minutes per section

Quantitative reasoning: Two sections with about 20 questions each, 35 minutes per section

Unscored: Number of questions and duration vary

Research: Number of questions and duration vary

The new version of the GRE General has been billed as very “student-friendly”. It has new questions, score scale and design.

“The GRE is a computer adaptive test, so a correct answer to one question leads to a more difficult subsequent question, while a wrong answer leads to a simpler one,” elaborates Suruchi Wagh, who has a master’s from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and is founder of nextLeap, a recommendation engine, which provides virtual counselling. In the new format, test-takers can revisit previous questions, and edit or change answers — all within the same section.

According to ETS, the non-profit body which administers the test, “The new verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning score scale, from 130-170 in one-point increments, will enable admissions professionals to better compare candidates’ scores as it makes small differences in scoring look small, while bigger differences will continue to stand out.”

“Earlier students needed to mug up about 4000 words for the verbal section,” says Wagh. “The revised test requires more in-depth understanding of what you are reading.

It’s for people who take interest in what they do. The questions in the revised GRE General Test are more about real-life scenarios. The test needs more practice. It’s becoming close to the GMAT.” Indeed, a lot of b-schools now accept GRE scores and technical schools take GMAT scores, she points out.

In addition to the GRE revised General Test, there’s also the GRE Subject Test, which assesses extensive knowledge of a certain discipline. It is given in eight disciplines: biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, biology, chemistry, computer science, literature in English, mathematics, physics and psychology, at paper-based centres worldwide in October, November and April. Test preparation help is available on the ETS website

Fee: $95 (R4,304) (discounted fee for GRE revised General during August or September 2011), $190 (R8,609) (after September 2011); $160 (R7,250) (GRE Subject Test)

How to apply: Register for a GRE revised General Test or GRE Subject Test online or by mail. Registration for the subject tests and the GRE revised General Test is available at www.ets.org.

Tests that take you places
TOEFL

If you intend to study abroad, then you mostly likely need to take an English proficiency test. One such assessment tool is the TOEFL, which is both internet- and paper-based. In India, only the TOEFL iBT is available.
Fee: $165 (R7,476)
How to apply: Register online, by phone (0124-4147773/4), via mail or in person at a centre. Apply online at ets.org

The IELTS
The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) comes in two versions: IELTS Academic is for those who wish to study in an English-speaking institution or university and and the IELTS General Training is for secondary education, work experience or training programmes and migration.
Fee: R7600
How to apply: The application form is available on ielts.org

GMAT
The Graduate Management Admission Test or GMAT is designed to measure a candidate’s skills for success in a master’s programme.
Fee: $250 (R11,328)
How to apply: First get an mba.com account. For more details, visit www.gmac.com or contact GMAC India Office, Gurgaon at 124 - 4311111 ext. 261/ apac@gmac.com