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GRE Test Basics: All You Need to Know About the New GRE Revised General Test

Applicants to MBA programs have a new and important choice to make when the Graduate Record Exam comes out later this year with a newly revised general test. If your business school choices don’t need your scores until after November of 2011, you can register for the new GRE revised general test starting on March 15 and then take the test between Aug. 1 and Sept. 30th. If you need your results before mid-November, then you would need to take the current test before Aug. 1.

Here’s what you need to know about the GRE revised general test. First off, it features what Educational Testing Service calls a new “test-taker friendly design” for the computer-based test that lets users edit and change their answers and skip questions, all within a section. There’s also an on-screen calculator for you to crunch numbers.

Secondly, ETS is creating new types of questions in both the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections. Many of them will highlight real-life scenarios that reflect the kind of thinking business school and other graduate programs require.

To introduce the test, ETS is offering a 50% discount to test-takers who sign up to take the new exam between Aug. 1 and Sept. 30.

The new test will be composed of three sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. The verbal portion of the test measures your ability to analyze and draw conclusions from discourse, understand multiple levels of meaning, select important points and understand the meanings of sentences and entire texts. The quant section measures your ability to interpret and analyze quantitative information and use mathematical skills such as arithmetic, algebra, geometry, probability and statistics to solve problems. And finally the writing portion of the exam measures your ability to sustain a well-focused, coherent discussion, articulate complex ideas clearly and effectively, support your ideas with relevant examples and examine claims and accompanying evidence.

The GRE revised general test has an impact on each of these three sections. In Verbal Reasoning, antonyms and analogies have been removed from the test, so you’re no longer tested on vocabulary out of context. New types of questions have also been added to test your ability to interpret, evaluate and reason from what you’ve read.

In Quantitative Reasoning, more focus has been placed on data interpretation and real-life scenarios, with multiple-choice and numeric entry answers. You’ll also be able to use the on-screen calculator to reduce the emphasis on computation.

In Analytical Writing, you’ll be given one topic to complete an essay task about, rather than a choice of topics. Tasks are more specific, to ensure you can integrate critical thinking and analytical writing by fully addressing the tasks presented. The scoring for the GRE general test also will change with the new revision. Scores for the Verbal Reasoning section, now reported in 10-point increments from 200 to 800, will be reported on a new 130 to 170 score scale in one-point increments. The same change will occur to the quant section of the new exam. Analytical writing will continue to be scored on the same zero to six scale, in half-point increments, with six being the highest score you can achieve. All scores will remain valid for five years.

The new computer-based revised test will take three hours and 45 minutes, plus short breaks, to complete. It can be taken on a continuous basis around the world. In areas of the world where the computer-based test is not available, a paper-based test will be administered up to three times per year (October, November and February). The paper-based revised test will take two hours and 15 minutes, with short breaks.

ETS helps test-takers prepare for the GRE revised general test. Among other things, there’s free software called POWERPREP II that includes a simulated, timed test-taking experience. The software demonstrates the new design features of the revised test, including your ability to move back and forth and change answers within a section, plus the new on-screen calculator. The software includes sample questions from the revised test for all three sections, along with useful test-taking strategies and tips. ETS also offers a free practice book for the paper-based revised test. The PDF includes a full-length paper-based test, test-taking strategies, sample questions with explanations as well as sample writing topics.