GRE change should not deter hopeful graduate students

Ron Rokhy

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About 1,500 students are admitted into CSUN’s graduate program every year, but those who want to apply after Aug. 1 will have to take a revised version of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

“The test had a major overhaul,” said Zach Crutchfield, the Executive Director of the Princeton Review, which specializes in preparing students to take the GRE and other graduate exams. “It changed so much that students should get rid of all old prep material.”

Recent graduates shouldn’t be deterred from taking the revised exam, however, since the last change, in 2007, had little to no effect on the performance of test-takers according to averaged out scores submitted to the ETS by individual states.

“I don’t think the new test is better or worse,” said Crutchfield. “I’ve never really viewed this test as a meter of how well a student will excel in grad school. Instead, I view it more as an obstacle they must get through to show they can persevere.”

Kelly Halseth, a junior sociology major, recently took the GRE but missed the revision date by about two weeks.

“I took the GRE because I’m pretty sure finding a real job in my field with just a bachelor’s degree is impossible,” she said. “I found the test to be both difficult and easy because the test is a computer adaptive test, meaning the questions get harder as you answer them correctly, so I‘m hoping the revision could change that.”

In fall 2010, 15 percent of CSUN students were in a graduate program, but many of them were not required to take the GRE.

“I don’t really think the changes are anything to worry about,” said Miroslav Peric, the graduate coordinator for CSUN’s physics and astronomy department. “Most people in our graduate program didn’t even need to take the GRE. Usually, if a student has a GPA of 3.0 or above, it‘s not necessary for them to take the exam according to CSUN’s policy.”

However, according to OneStopGRE.com, a website dedicated to preparing students for graduate tests, CSUN is only one of five schools that permit students to waive the GRE based on their academic record as an undergraduate

The changes, which were proposed in late 2009, allow test takers to edit or change previous answers, skip questions in a section entirely and use an on-screen calculator to aid in math problems.

However, the biggest changes occur in the test questions themselves. The new edition presents multiple correct answers for fill-in-the-blank questions.

“The old exam had one correct answer for each question, and this one does not,” said Crutchfield. “You won’t get partial credit either, you have to get all the answers or it’s counted as incorrect.

Another big change is that the test won’t be a computer adaptive test anymore, he added. Now it’s going to be a multistage test where the exam is taken in sections.

All antonym and analogy questions have been removed from the verbal reasoning section, while the quantitative reasoning section has reduced the emphasis on pure mathematical calculations while focusing more on data interpretation.

“Not only that, the new features will greatly aid students by allowing them to go back and fix something if they notice they made an error,” said Garamel Gonzales, an employee of the Educational Testing Services, which gives out the GRE.