The new GRE is coming. Like overbearing in-laws at Christmas, the new GRE is coming, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. The best course of action is to learn all 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, effective August 1, 2011.
- The verbal reasoning section of the current GRE tests your ability to analyze written material and understand the information presented (reading comprehension), identify relationships between different parts of sentences (sentence completion), and understand relationships between words and concepts (analogies/antonyms).
- The quantitative reasoning section of the current GRE tests your ability to understand the basics of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis, reason quantitatively, and solve problems involving quantity.
- The writing section consists of two topics: a “problem” topic and a “plot” topic.
The content of the new GRE is more or less the same as the content of the current GRE; the main difference is that certain concepts are emphasized more than others.
- In the verbal reasoning section, there will be much less focus on vocabulary out of context (no more analogies/antonyms) and more focus on “higher level cognitive thinking” which translates to critical reading.
- In the quantitative reasoning section, there is a greater emphasis on interpreting data and real-life problem scenarios.
- The writing section of the new GRE still consists of a “problem” topic and an “argument” topic.
Kind of questions
- There are four main types of questions in the verbal reasoning section of the current GRE: sentence completion, analogies, reading comprehension, and antonyms.
- The quantitative reasoning section has two types of questions: multiple choice and quantitative comparison.
- The “problem” topic in the writing section gives you two prompts to choose from; the topic “argument” only has a notice.
- The verbal reasoning section of the new GRE will have no analogies or antonyms. Instead, there will be more sentence completion questions and a new type of question called sentence equivalence, in which you have to identify which two answer choices will give the sentence the same meaning. Reading comprehension questions will have two new question types. In addition to the traditional multiple choice questions, there will be multiple choice questions and featured prize questions. Multiple-choice questions are exactly what they sound like: of the three answer choices provided, one, two, or all three 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 quantitative and multiple choice comparisons. Multiple-choice questions are like the verbal section: more than one answer can be correct, and you must identify all correct answers. Number entry questions are similar to number entry questions on the SAT: a box will be provided with the question in which you type your number answer.
- Each topic has only one message in the writing section of the new GRE.
The current GRE is a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT). The CAT test is significantly different from a traditional paper-and-pencil test that most people are charged with. On a CAT test, you must answer each question as it arises; you cannot go forward or backward. Once you answer a question you are done with that question, there is no going back! The computer will select the next question based on some criteria, including the correctness of your answer, the difficulty level of the problem, and the type of problem. Calculators are not allowed.
The new GRE will be a computerized test, but it will not be a CAT. In the new format, you’ll be able to skip a question or come back to change it later using a new “mark and review” feature. A very basic on-screen calculator (four arithmetic functions and square root) is provided.
The highest score that can be achieved on the current GRE is 1600. The score range for the quantitative and verbal reasoning sections is 200-800. Scores are given in ten point increments. Scores are available immediately after the exam.
The highest score achievable on the new GRE will be 340. The score range for the quantitative and verbal reasoning sections is 130-170. Scores are given in one point increments. Scores are available immediately after the exam.