GRE changes delayed indefinitely

Students taking the GREs are in for more changes.

As of April 2, proposed changes to the format of the Graduate Records Exam, scheduled to take effect next September, have been canceled because the number of seats at test centers won’t be enough to accommodate potential test-takers.

The final administration of the GRE in its current form was set to be July 31 and the first administration of the new format Sept. 10. Planned changes to the exam included doubling the time of the test from two hours to more than four and a structural change to a linear format. Thousands of students around the nation, including at GW, have made plans to take the newly structured test.

This year, Educational Testing Services planned to open 3,000 of the Internet-based test centers in which the new GRE would be administered. The educational nonprofit surpassed that goal by opening 3,200 centers with 1,800 more nearly ready to go, said ETS Press Relations Director Tom Ewing.

Even with 5,000 test centers nationwide, ETS still could not have accommodated all the students who need to take the GRE in September, Ewing said.

The new version of the test was to be offered 35 times during the year versus the six days a week it is offered in its current format and schedule.

ETS may still choose to change aspects of the test in coming years, but it will do so with gradual changes rather than the complete overhaul initially planned.

“Plans to change to an entirely new test have been canceled, but the improvements that we had planned and that we had worked on with the graduate education community still have great value,” Ewing said.

No changes will occur in the 2007-2008 academic year, he added.

Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions developed a new course and new books for the changed GRE, but now students aren’t going to be taking the test they’ve been studying for.

“We’ve invested a lot,” said Jung Lee, GRE program manager for Kaplan. “(The cancellation) has made our work unnecessary.”

Lee advises that students take the GRE as planned because most graduate programs have said that they will accept scores for up to five years after the test is taken.

Kristin Williams, executive director of GW Graduate Student Enrollment Management, said that she is delighted by the cancellation.

She likened the decrease in test dates as a reversion to when the GRE was paper-based.

“I was glad when they canceled plans and reopened computer-based test centers, but I can’t speak to whether or not undergraduates would find one test easier than the other,” she said.

Concerning potential future changes in the GRE, Williams advises that students prepare as they would for the current test.

“Any preparation they would have done for the new test would still be valid for the current one,” she said. “The content would not be different.”

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