Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The New GRE vs The Current GRE

The new GRE is coming. Like overbearing in-laws on Christmas, the new GRE is coming, and there's nothing we can do to stop it. The best course of action is to learn as much as we can about it, so we know what to expect. The following is a brief summary of the differences between the current GRE and the new (revised) GRE,

Content

Current GRE

    The verbal reasoning section of the current GRE tests your ability to analyze written material and understand the information presented (reading comprehension), identify relationships among different sentence parts (sentence completion), and comprehend relationships between words and concepts (analogies/antonyms).
    The quantitative reasoning section of the current GRE tests your ability to understand the basic concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis, reason in a quantitative way, and solve problems involving quantities.
    The writing section consists of two topics: one "issue" topic and one "argument" topic.

New GRE
The content on the new GRE is more or less the same as the content on the current GRE; the main difference is that certain concepts are emphasized more than others.

    On the verbal reasoning section, there will be significantly less focus on vocabulary out of context (no more analogies/antonyms) and more of a focus on "higher-level cognitive thinking," which translates to critical reading.
    On the quantitative reasoning section, there is a greater emphasis on data interpretation and real-life problem scenarios.
    The writing section of the new GRE still consists of one "issue" topic and one "argument" topic.

Question Types
Current GRE

    There are four main types of questions on the current GRE verbal reasoning section: sentence completion, analogies, reading comprehension, and antonyms.
    The quantitative reasoning section has two question types: multiple choice and quantitative comparison.
    The "issue" topic on the writing section gives you two prompts from which to choose; the "argument" topic only has one prompt.

New GRE

    The verbal reasoning section of the new GRE will have neither analogies nor antonyms. Instead, there will be more sentence completion questions and a new type of question called sentence equivalence, in which you must identify which two answer choices will give the sentence the same meaning. The reading comprehension questions will have two new question types. In addition to the traditional multiple choice questions, there will be multiple answer questions and sentence highlighting questions. Multiple answer questions are exactly what they sound like -- of the three answer choices provided, one, two, or all three choices may be correct. Sentence highlighting questions will ask you to highlight the sentence in the passage where the answer is found.
    The new quantitative reasoning section will have two more question types in addition to multiple choice and quantitative comparisons. Multiple answer questions are just like they are on the verbal section -- more than one answer may be right, and you must identify all correct answers. Numeric entry questions are similar to the numeric entry questions on the SAT -- a box in which you must type in your numeric answer will be provided with the question.
    Each topic has only one prompt on the writing section of the new GRE.


Testing Procedure

Current GRE
The current GRE is a computer-adaptive test (CAT). The CAT test is significantly different from a traditional pencil-and-paper test to which most people are accustomed. On a CAT test, you must answer each question as it comes up; you may not move ahead or go backward. Once you answer a question, you're done with that question -- there's no going back! The computer will select the next question based on a few criteria, including the correctness of your answer, the difficulty level of the problem, and the problem type. Calculators are not permitted.

New GRE
The new GRE will be a computerized exam, but it will not be a CAT. On the new format, you will be able to skip a question or go back to change it later by using a new "mark and review" feature. A very basic (four arithmetic functions and square root) on-screen calculator is provided for you.

Scoring
Current GRE
The highest score achievable on the current GRE is 1600. The score range for both the quantitative and verbal reasoning sections is 200-800. Scores are given in ten point increments. Scores are available immediately after the exam.

New GRE
The highest score achievable on the new GRE will be 340. The score range for both the quantitative and verbal reasoning sections is 130-170. Scores are given in one point increments. Scores are available immediately after the exam.

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