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Changes made to Graduate Record Exam

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Students considering graduate school might have to reconsider when to put their heads in the books in preparation for entrance exams.

This August, the Graduate Record Examination will undergo drastic changes. The standardized exam is required for thousands of students throughout the United States and Canada attempting to get into grad school next year.

The format change is the biggest revision to the test in the last 60 years. Educational Testing Service, the body responsible for administering the exam, claims the changes are necessary because of new test-taker demographics and new technologies.

As of Aug. 1, the exam will be fully implemented. ETS employee Tymika, who asked for her last name not to be used citing company policy, said it might be a good thing for students to wait to take the new exam.

"Everything about the exam is changing," she said. "There are more analogies that relate to real life and it's a lot more user friendly. You can preview and review answers and flag difficult questions."

There will also be an onscreen calculator which replaces the old system of a pencil and paper. ETS said they hope this will reduce the amount of arithmetic errors.

A few major changes include a new scaling system with the new GRE using one point increments on a scale from 130-170 instead of 10-points on a scale of 200-800. In the old exam, if a tester correctly responded to a question, the subsequent question would then be more difficult, but this system will no longer exist as of August.

Statistics show major changes to standardized tests produce a drop in test scores initially after implementation according to Kaplan Test Prep. The ETS website, however, called the changes a good thing that will allow for students to have "the advantage of a better test experience."

Kaplan Test Prep customer service representative Jeff Baron said any changes to the grad exam will be reflected in course material in order to help students prepare for the new examinations.

"The change is good news," he said. "Our ballpark is to help people prepare for the test. As far as teaching material goes, we will not be teaching outdated material."

For Liam Ellsworth, who hopes to enter grad school next year, the changes do not alter his plans to write the exam.

"It shouldn't matter which version of the exam you are taking," he said. "You prepare just the same and your results will be indicative of that."

ETS recommends taking the new exam, but depending on different application deadlines, this may not be possible. Test-takers who complete the exam in the first two months of the change are offered the incentive of an $80 exam -- 50 per cent off the original price.

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