ETS plans to alter GRE again

The Education Testing Service (ETS) announced they will add new types of questions to the math and verbal sections of this year’s Graduate Record Examination (GRE), a change that comes on the heels of a decision made last spring to cancel plans for an entirely new GRE.

The math section will now include numeric entry questions, while the verbal section will feature an expanded text completion section. ETS spokesman Tom Ewing said these are the only changes that ETS will make in the “foreseeable future.”

Ewing added that this year the questions are purely trial-based and will not count toward a test-taker’s final score. He recommended students avoid stressing over the new question types and approach the test as they would normally.

“Just take the test and do it as best as you can,” Ewing said.

While a multiple-choice version of the numeric entry question is already on the exam, the new test will require students to write the answer into the box provided. Katherine Lynn, GRE program manager at Kaplan Inc., said this makes the questions considerably more difficult.

Similarly, the text completion question consists of one sentence with three blanks, which have to be filled in with the options provided. No partial credit will be given, and students must get all three blanks correct in order to receive credit.

Despite the fact that new questions will not count toward a test-taker’s final score, Lynn said Kaplan is recommending students take the test before November when the new question types are set to go into effect.

“We have prepared a curriculum to expose students to handle these questions, but we want to make sure students only take the test if they’re fully prepared to do so,” Lynn said. She added that Kaplan is telling students who will take the new version of the test to take the new questions “as though they’re scored.”

“We know that as soon as adequate data has been organized, the questions will be scored,” she said.

Jeffery Glazer, owner and an instructor at Griffon Prep, a company that offers GRE preparation classes, said his organization plans to address the new questions, but that they will not change the way the course is taught.

“We’re going to address the changes,” he said, noting that ETS always announces changes to the exam six months in advance so there is no chance of being caught off guard. “But the new questions aren’t going to be radically different.”

Glazer added that after the cancellation of the completely new exam in April, it is hard to predict what changes will be made in the future.

“It’s hard for (ETS) to make drastic changes because of test standardization,” he said. “Graduate schools have a hard time assessing the scores of two different tests.”

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