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GRE New Format.. Preparation Guidelines

For more than 60 years now admissions committees of US universities have been taking the GRE General Test as the standard assessment tool for admissions to graduate study. The GRE measures the skills that one needs to succeed in graduate or business schools across the world and mostly in USA. Test scores are sent to more than 3,200 institutions and fellowship sponsors worldwide. GRE general test is offered by ETS across 19 test centers in India. GRE tests student's skills in areas such as English, mathematics, reasoning and writing abilities and it is a computer adaptive test i.e a correct answer to one question leads to a more difficult subsequent question, while a wrong answer leads to a simpler one. ETS has announced a change in GRE pattern August 2011 onwards, and will more closely align with the types of skills that are required to meet today's demanding graduate school expectations.

What to expect in New GRE Pattern?
Change in design -
In the current pattern a student has to answer a question before being allowed to move onto the next one. The New GRE test will enable students to edit the marked answer for a particular question or to skip questions for answering at a later point, across a specific section i.e., the computer adaptivity will no longer be question by question but section by section, so that, students can skip a question and return to it within a section.

Change in types of questions
  • Verbal Reasoning-In this section, the questions on antonyms and analogies will be discontinued. In other words, this section will no longer focuses on student's rote learning and retention capability of thousands of antonyms and synonyms. Howev-er, the test will continue to focus on students' ability to interpret words in a particular context
  • New patterns like text completion, sentence equivalence will be introduced which will test students' capability to understand the context and tone of the paragraph and guess the author's assumptions and perspectives.
  • In the Reading Comprehension section, multiple answers for a single question will be introduced and a mark will be awarded if only all the answers for the question are marked. There will be two verbal sections and scores will be reported on a 130-170 scale.
  • Quantitative Aptitude - The biggest change in this section is the addition of calculator, which will help students in performing co-mplex calculations. This section will focus on application of quantitative skills to real life situations. There will be two sections in Quantitative Aptitude and the scores will be reported in a scale of 130-170.
  • Analytical Writing section - This section will test students' capability to articulate complex ideas effectively and sustain a focused discussion. This section will have two parts, one asking the students to make logical analysis of the given situation and the other seeking an expression of the student's views. The subsequent scoring will be on a scale of 0-6.
New scoring scale:
The current GRE scoring scale runs from 200 to 800, with 10-point increments that may represent only one additional correct answer. The new scoring scale will have one-point increments.

Preparing for New GRE?
As the New GRE will focus on application of verbal, quantitative and reasoning skills rather than straightforward questions based on either learning by rote or direct application of formulae, test preparation should start well before the examination date.

The preparation study is a continuous process which should start as early as possible and should be sustained till the test date. One can never say that they had enough practice for GRE as nobody can master writing skills and learn contextual understanding of vocabulary in a month or two. A three-pron-ged approach should be adapted as early as six months before the test date by inculcating active reading, developing familiarity with dictionary and solving mathematics puzzles.

Challenges for Indian students:
Indian students traditionally have been doing well in the current format of GRE owing to the presence of large number of questions on vocabulary and analogies in the verbal section and simple arithmetic questions in the quantitative section. Indian students excel in rote-learning and this explains their good performance in the current verbal section.

In the new GRE, rote-learning will not be of much use to the students. Familiarity with words and their contextualized usage will be important. Therefore extensive preparation will be required. In addition, in the initial few months extensive practice material in the form of guides and courseware may not be available. So, the onus will be on the students to develop the required familiarity with words.

It will be easier for Indian students to adapt to the changes in the quantitative section. However students have to practice using an onscreen calculator. There will also be a shift from direct formula based questions to the ones involving analysis, interpretation and reasoning. For most Indian students exp-osure and practice to the new type of questions will be sufficient to ace this section.

As with any change, the challenge appea-rs insurmountable in the early stage but given the time and exposure students will develop the required confidence to do well in the test.
By
Aparna Seksaria
Executive Director,
PRIME Training Services Pvt. Ltd, Hyderabad.
www.sakshieducation.com
Published on 1/27/2011
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