On Sunday July 24, 2011 the New York Times published a story about the GRE Preparation experience for those who have been away from academia and are intending to return to graduate school. The article began with the following comment:
“On the first day of test prep, after we had tackled a mini-G.R.E., the instructor assured our class that though she was 30 years old, she was still up on the latest test-taking trends. Finally, I thought, a problem I could easily solve. Answer: the last math class I had taken was three years before she was born.”
Peak Performance on the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT and other admission tests is partly a function of being in “top test taking shape”. When you are in school, you are taking tests all the time. Once you leave school you will lose your “test taking conditioning”. In addition, don’t forget that the longer you wait the harder it will be to relearn and use important skills (particularly in the area of math). This point is underscored in the article where the author states that:
“Mean GMAT scores decline with age: 26- and 27-year-olds score on average a 572; 28- to 30-year-olds, 565; 40- to 49-year-olds, 501; and 50-plus, 486, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the test.”
Our advice: In order to make future graduate school admission easier, take the appropriate admission test while you are still in school. GMAT test scores, LSAT test scores and GRE test scores are good for a number of years. Take the test now!
“Starting on Aug. 1, 2011, test takers will be greeted with a new version of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test, the gateway assessment for many graduate programs across the country. And in June 2012, prospective business school applicants will face a modified Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Here’s what to expect:”
What follows are the thoughts of one of our Toronto GRE tutors. After having read this post, you might want to participate in our GRE poll: Will the Revised GRE be harder?
“So, is the revised GRE easier or harder than the “old” GRE?
And how will this be reflected in your score?
And how is your score on the new GRE going to be compared to the scores of other applicants who wrote the “old” GRE? (Remember that GRE results are valid for 5 years.)
First, consider the measuring stick.
The “old” GRE has a score scale of 200 to 800. When the GRE was first developed it was probably intended that the means and medians would be around 500 with a normal (bell curve) distribution of scores. At present the median for the Verbal section is about 450 (yes, that is low) and for the Quantitative section it is about 610 (yes, that is high).
Both the Verbal and Quantitative sections of the revised GRE will have a score scale from 130 to 170. I would expect that the revised GRE results which are due to be first released in mid-November will have Verbal and Quantitative medians to be about 150 – right in the middle of the scale.
So how can you compare old and new results? Well, the same way Verbal and Quantitative scores should be viewed when you are looking at the scores required by the schools you are applying to.
You’ve heard “it’s not the heat it’s the humidity?” For the GRE it’s not your score it’s your percentile ranking – how does your score compare with all of the other test writers.
View all scores old and new, verbal and quantitative as percentiles for purposes of comparison.
That said how will you fare on the test? As I said in my last posting the revised GRE test is more test-taker friendly. But it will probably be for the vast majority of test-takers. While some may do better on one version than on the other, most test-takers will probably stay in relatively the same position on the curve – i.e. same percentile ranking.
So remember, it’s not your score it’s your percentile.
“A new test-taker friendly design for the computer-based test that lets you edit or change your answers, skip questions and more, all within a section — giving you the freedom to use more of your own test-taking strategies. Another new feature: an on-screen calculator
New types of questions in the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections, many featuring real-life scenarios that reflect the kind of thinking you’ll do in today’s demanding graduate and business school programs.”
Educational Testing Service (ETS)
No doubt the majority of test-takers will find the new GRE to be more test-taker friendly.
Gone from the GRE Verbal Section are Antonyms and Analogies, two question types that were not at the top of the list for many GRE test-takers. Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence questions will be added to the new test and Reading Comprehension questions kept from the existing GRE.
There will be no more questions that test vocabulary out of context and there will be a greater emphasis on critical reading and reasoning, long a mainstay of our preparation courses.
On the Quantitative side of things there are only additions, no subtractions. Two new question types, Multiple Answer and Numeric Entry, have been added. The multiple-choice questions for Problem Solving and Data Analysis remain.
Some have opined that the Quantitative Section of the new GRE will be a more challenging section since ETS has been pushing to have the GRE accepted in lieu of the GMAT for business school applicants. Having prepared both GMAT and GRE test-takers we are well positioned to prepare you to meet that challenge.