Starting August 2011, the Graduate Record Examination will be drastically revised in an attempt to reset the scoring system.
After next August, the current version of the exam — the standardized test for students applying to graduate school — will no longer be administered.
The changes are broad, affecting every section of the exam and its format.
“This is the biggest test change in the GRE’s history. Fundamentally, everything is changing — from the type of test that it is, to the scoring, to the test interface,” said Lee Weiss, assistant director of graduate programs at Kaplan, Inc., a company specializing in test preparation.
Major changes include a new point system, with each of the verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning sections out of a maximum of 170 points, instead of 800 as it currently is.
“The reason the test-maker is making this change is because they want to make sure that small differences in scores look like small differences,” Weiss said.
Scores will vary by one-point increments, instead of 10-point increments.
“They’re [also] trying to reset the scoring scale. Right now, if you get an 800 on the math section, you’re still in the 94th percentile, so they’re trying to reset it about a mean of 150 so that scores match up with percentiles,” Weiss said.
Additionally, test-takers will now be able to skip between questions on the new GRE, which is not a feature on the current version.
The current exam, which is administered on a computer, currently adapts each subsequent question to the response on the previous question — if a student gets a question correct, the next one will be more difficult.
In the new version, however, sections, instead of questions, will be adaptive. If a student scores well on one section, the next section will be harder.
The new GRE will also be longer, by almost an hour, and contain different types of questions in all three sections: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing.
The last major change to the GRE exam was in 2002. Test administrators replaced the logical reasoning section with a writing section, Weiss said.
Kosiso Ugwueze, a sophomore majoring in creative writing and international relations, said he plans to take the new exam when it comes out.
“I appreciate that they’re making changes. Since they’re changing [the GRE], that means that they’re evaluating it,” Ugwueze said.
Educational Testing Services, the company that administers the GRE, said the new exam will better demonstrate a student’s preparedness for graduate school.
USC officials said the exam could help evaluate a student’s application.
“It might be a good thing because it might give us a better insight into how a student is doing, as far as academics go,” said Wendy Jimenez, admissions coordinator for the USC School of Cinematic Arts.
The current exam has been in place for several years and is very predictable, according to Weiss, making the change an unpredictable one.
Zac Geoffray, a senior majoring in cinema-television production, said he is now more wary of the new test.
“Now that I’ve heard [about the revision] I might want to take it before it changes,” Geoffray said.
To encourage students to take the new exam, a 50 percent discount is being offered to students who take the exam between Aug. 1 and Sept. 30, 2011. The test currently costs $160.