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Grad school admissions test gets twice as long

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Getting into grad school is already difficult, but with a recent announcement from the Educational Testing Service, it just got a lot harder.

The ETS recently announced that the Graduate Record Examination is undergoing a makeover in content and format for the fall. The exam, originally two and a half hours in length, will be extended to four hours. The format is also being changed from a computer adaptive test, which alters the questions based on responses, to a computer-based test, which administers the same questions to every test taker in the same order.

"They need more questions because of the change in format," explained Susan Kaplan, director of graduate programs for Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions. "This makes the test a more accurate predictor of success in graduate school. It also reduces the effects of memorization and tests more general knowledge gained during the undergraduate experience."

Kaplan added that the questions and testing sections themselves will be significantly altered.

"The complex sentence section previously had one blank that had to be filled in and will now contain two or three," Kaplan said. "The analytical writing and critical thinking section will be changed as well, being scored on a scale of one to six. The schools that a person applies for will now be able to see the actual essay in addition to the score when looking over an applicant's marks."

Kaplan explained that the new test places less emphasis on vocabulary and geometry and more focus on data interpretation.

In total, the new exam will contain two 40-minute quantitative sections, two 40-minute verbal sections, one experimental section and two 30-minute analytical writing essays.

Kaplan suggested that students planning to take the GRE prepare and register as soon as possible in order to take the current, shorter version of the test.

"I'd suggest that students set aside around three months in which to study and prepare," said Kaplan. "Obviously, as there is a crunch to take the old version of the exam, people may have to speed up their preparation process. The old exam was administered nearly every day, while the new one will only be given less than 35 times in a year. This means that spots for the examination are going to fill up very quickly."

The new GRE will launch in September 2007 and the scores from that exam will not be released until early November as the new version is still in the early stages of development.

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