Current vs Revised GRE – Insider View

Raghuram Sukumar GRE 20 Comments

I had posted couple of articles on why students should register to take current GRE format. Since then I received many emails from prospective student to help them  decide about which GRE pattern will be easier to get high score.

So, I requested Daniel to give his thoughts. This article will clear most of your dilemma.  In case if you have missed those 2 articles, here is the link to them

 

Following is Guest post by Daniel Chatham is Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences.

Standardized test changes

Whenever a standardized test changes format, delivery, or scoring, applicants can feel uncertain about how the changes affect them, which version to take (if they have a choice), and how the information will be used by adcoms (admission committee).  This uncertainty and confusion can be frustrating and is unnecessary.

The GRE General Test is being revised and will change in August 2011.  Changes include changed question types, more flexibility for the test taker, and a new scoring scale, among others. Educational Testing Service does a nice job describing the changes online at http://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/know.

From the admissions committee perspective, there are several positive effects brought about by the changes.

Preview and Review

Preview and review within a section, “mark and review”, and change / edit answers within a section should end the occasional when an applicant tries to explain weak scores by saying something like “I missed one question early on and it messed me up for the rest of the section”.

Verbal Reasoning Section

Changes to this section provide better mechanisms to assess ability according to how language is used and challenges you can expect to face as a student after enrollment.  Adcoms may develop an increased sense of validity in this part of the test, when compared to the older version.  This section is more true to life so we will likely have more confidence in these scores.

 

Quantitative Reasoning Section

On-screen calculator – it’s 2010 and when do we ever get into a situation where we have to do math using only a pen and paper?  This change allows the test environment to more closely mimic the regular environment you face during school and in your career.  It is a good change but will take practice for candidates to get used to using the user interface.  Adcoms will not want to hear applicants say they had trouble with the on-screen calculator.  Practice, practice, practice.

The question format changes also portend an increased difficulty level and may help spread out the score cluster we see at the top of the current GRE Q section.  Adcoms would expect to see fewer perfect scores on this section.  I personally believe this section will be a better indicator of one’s true ability than it is now.

Analytical Writing Measure

This section replaces the former AWA section and will take some use by adcoms to develop stronger sense of how much weight to put into the scores.  Some adcoms disregard this section entirely, while others consider it vital, and yet others use it in conjunction with other required application materials to develop understanding of a candidate’s communication skills.

Scoring revisions

When standardized tests change score scales there is usually a concordance table created that allows comparison across versions (Google “TOEFL score conversion” for an example).  While these are helpful tools, there is already a mechanism that allows easy comparison: the percentile scores.  Over time, the scaled scores move, but the comparison with all other test takers in a given year remains valid and is conveyed via the percentile scores.  Adcoms sometimes look at older scores according to the percentiles rather than the raw score.

Recommendation

Adcoms will not likely recommend candidates take a particular version and will likely leave the decision to applicants. For their part, adcoms must ensure that all candidates have a fair chance of earning admission and will strive to give the scores appropriate consideration, regardless of format.

Take the test you think you will do better at.  It sounds simple, but that strategy will help you score best.  If you feel most comfortable with the current version, take it.  If you feel that you would be rushed and have inadequate time to prepare for the current version, consider preparing for the revised GRE.

Applicants should put forward their very strongest application, regardless of test or test format.

Daniel Chatham is Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences and a member of the board of directors of the National Professional Science Masters Association.  He has been in graduate and business school admissions since 2001 and is on twitter at @danielchatham and blogs at insidetheadcom.com.

Comments

  1. i had cleared gre with 311 score and toefl 107. whether with this score can i get in best uni in usa.i want to do master in artificial inteligence

  2. Pls send me details for online tutoring for GRE and TOEFL and also sample papers for the both of the new 2011 pattern
    thank u

  3. Sir, I want to know more imformation regarding new gre format. Pls give the info via mail.
    thank you

  4. Which institutions in Ghana can we register for the GRE exams this year (2011)? Please i need a response soon.

  5. hai…………..
    I have do my ms in us but no idea about gre can u xplain about gre?
    new parten score how much nd how many leavels r there
    nd how sections each section how many marks got it……………

  6. Hello Sir ,I have stepped into my Fourth yr of engg in IT trade,I want to pursue GRE and as per my knowledge the pattern is changed ,I want to take the exam in new pattern without any coaching .
    So ,can u suggest me some tips for starting its preparation well and can get a respectable score .Please guide me .

  7. I am Bangladeshi.In Bangladesh this is really taugh for me to get proper guide about the new system in gre so please suggest me,please.

  8. hello HSB,

    I took GRE yesterday(13th oct) and scored 1330(Verbal-570; Quant- 760). This is my first time giving GRE. Well, i did my B.Tech from IIT roorke (passed out-2010). My cgpa is pretty low(5.9). I am looking forward to pursue my Masters in Transportation engg. well my doubt is whether my score is okay or should i retake GRE.

    1. Please look to the individual schools and programs you are considering applying to for information about their academic averages and statistics to see how competitive your scores are. It doesn't hurt to reach out to the school directly for feedback on this issue too. Hopefully, they tell you they review applicants entire package so they can engage with you about your other credentials and can provide you with personalized feedback.

      Goog luck with your applications!

      Daniel Chatham

  9. Hello HSB,

    I retook GRE as u advised and this time my score is 1330 (Q:730,V:600).

    I wanna share my experience but I don't know how to contact you.. other than as comments on posts.. Tell me if there is some other way.. like e-mail or something. I can't post on your facebook wall anymore for some reason 🙁

  10. Still, ETS should have allowed both format GREs to run concurrently side by side from August 2011 till Dec 2011, until there was more confidence built up in the new format.

    If ETS consists of reasonable people, which they do, they would probably decide to do it this way. (Hint)

    1. It would be interesting to see both versions live at the same time. Fortunately there is plenty of time to prepare for the revised test or to commit to the current version.

      Best of luck with your applications!

      Daniel Chatham

  11. Hi Sir/ Ma'am,

    I am planning to give GRE in December 2010/early January 2011. Will I have chance to apply for the term starting in August/September 2010? I mean, what is the deadline for applications for fall 2011?

    TIA.

    Regards,

    Mahesh

    1. It is unlikely that a school will allow a required admission credential to arrive 4-5 months after classes start. Generally, admissions committees will require application materials to be complete and received before the application can receive a decision. There are some schools that may issue provisional admission, pending receipt of the official score however. I would caution that in this scenario, the first semester of school is spent trying to be successful, adapt to the new environment, and also prepping for the GRE. The GRE results will likely be lower in this scenario because of all you have to juggle concurrently.

      Good luck with your applications and the GRE!

      Best,

      Daniel Chatham

  12. Thanks Mr. Daniel Chatham. I really appreciate for your effort. New format of GRE 2011 has created havoc but i believe you have given in-depth view of it.

    So i believe it all depends on students' caliber not the format. If a student can score 1300+ in current GRE pattern then he can surely do well in new pattern also.

    Also, i believe that the new format is more of an intellectual based rather than cramming based in which you have to mug up huge word lists.

    In the end, it all depends upon how much practice you do. If you have an urge to succeed then nothing can stop you from doing well regardless of any pattern.

    1. Arun,

      You are right that effort will lead to outcome, regardless of format. I also agree with your assessment that the revised GRE will not lead to as much cramming and memorization. As an admission officer, I think the revised GRE is a higher quality exam and will be a better reflection of a candidate's ability and preparation.

      Best,

      Daniel Chatham

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