Test Service Revokes GRE Changes

    All of the proposed length, content and format alterations to the Graduate Record Examination announced two months ago have been canceled due to problems with ensuring exam availability, granting apprehensive students a temporary reprieve from the most extensive structural change in the test’s 60-year history.

    Administrators promised an increase in exam length from two and a half hours to more than four, along with a restructuring of the content and format of the questions. Educational Testing Service also announced that the test would be offered only 35 times per year on fixed dates, rather than continuously throughout the year – a reason the service is now citing for the cancellation of the revised version.

    Though ETS has opened 3,200 testing centers for the new exam and have 1,800 more slated to become active in the future, demand for the test exceeded the organization’s original estimate.

    “”Even with these increased numbers of centers, we determined we could not accommodate every student who wanted or needed to take the GRE in the fall of 2007,”” ETS spokesman Tom Ewing said in an e-mail. “”So, we did what we thought was in the best interest of test takers and score users.””

    Test administration was also set to switch from computer-adaptive to linear, meaning that all students would have received the same questions in the same order, rather than a modified question order based on the student’s individual performance. ETS officials said that the computer-adaptive test made it possible for students to memorize answers and share them with other people, which would be eliminated by the switch to a linear format.

    However, Ewing said the breach was not a significant security concern for ETS because it occurred approximately five years ago and was limited to a few Asian countries.

    “”We took measures in those countries to change the way the test was administered,”” he said. “”We closely monitor all GRE test scores and patterns around the world for every administration and back then, and since [then], we have not noticed a similar security concern in any other countries and certainly not in those Asian countries.””

    Ewing said that ETS technicians are planning security enhancements to the current system in the near future, but that he was not at liberty to disclose specifics.

    The sudden reversal of the alterations is generally good news for students rushing to study for the current exam before it was set to change on Sept. 10, according to Jung Lee, GRE Program Manager for Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions. However, he said he believes students who adequately prepared for the test should still follow through on their plans, because the nature of exam changes is often fluid and uncertain.

    “”GRE scores are good for five years,”” Lee said. “”It is to [the students’] advantage to get the test – an important component of admission – out of the way.””

    Although the current revised version is canceled, not delayed, ETS is still looking to implement some of the planned changes in the distant future, Ewing said.

    “”ETS and the graduate education community put a lot of time, effort and expense into creating the improvements we had planned for the new GRE,”” he said. “”With that in mind, we intend to make improvements in the future to the GRE but they will be done gradually and over time, rather than all at once as initially planned.””

    Ewing added that there will be no changes to the exam in the 2007-08 academic year, and that he does not expect the cancellation to have any negative impact on potential graduate students.

    Lee said he believes that the expense of the exam revision process – to the tune of $12 million – makes it less likely that ETS will set the changes aside indefinitely. ETS has announced that the price of taking the GRE will likely increase due to the high cost of test development, but a price has not yet been finalized.

    “”Any test changes are very uncertain,”” Lee said. “”We’re hoping that any decisions they make will be made in the best interests of students and test takers.””

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal