Thousands Of Testtakers To Sit For New Shorter GRE Today

Graduate Record Exam submission rates leveled off at the top 50 U.S. B-schools in 2022

On the first day that a new, shorter GRE is available, thousands of test takers are expected to sit for the exam today (Sept. 22).

The debut of the test —which can now be taken in less than two hours—is the opening salvo in a long-running competitive battle with the GMAT which will launch its shorter exam more than six weeks later on Nov. 7.

The Educational Testing Service, the administrator of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), nearly cut in half the time of its test which had taken just under four hours to complete. ETS eliminated 46 verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning questions and one of two analytical writing essays to shorten the exam.

THE NEW GRE EXAM RETAINS AN ANALYTICAL WRITING SECTION IN THE AGE OF CHATGPT

In recent years, the GRE exam has gained significant marketshare against the GMAT which remains the dominant test for graduate management education. Those gains, however, may have peaked in the past year. In 2022, according to U.S. News data published in conjunction with their new ranking last month, submission rates of GRE scores dropped at 21 of P&Q‘s top 50 business schools, mostly at the lower 25 schools (though two top-25 B-schools saw double-digit declines).

With the introduction of the new exam, ETS hopes the GRE will gain more favor among prospective business school students, according to Rohit Sharma, a senior vice president for global higher education at ETS.

The decision to retain the analytical writing section of the GRE, believes Sharma, gives the new GRE an additional advantage over the GMAT for business school admission officials. “We have made a conscious choice to keep the analytical writing section that GMAT has done away with. It’s important in my view because now in the last six months in the new world of ChatGPT there are a whole range of concerns around personal statements, essays and recommendation letters. Especially in graduate studies, your ability to write in an academic environment plays a role in your academic success.”

Sharma believes that GMAC’s decision to add a data insights section on its revamped test gives the GMAT no advantage. “A lot of that is already incorporated in the quant reasoning section,” he says. “Maybe we need to do some thinking internally about what we call it in this day and age but so far we haven’t received any feedback from any of our educational partners on this”

THE NEW GRE EXAM IS 17 MINUTES SHORTER THAN THE NEW GMAT WHICH COMES OUT IN NOVEMBER

Rohit Sharma, a senior vice president at ETS

Rohit Sharma, a senior vice president at ETS

Even though ETS announced its shorter exam in late May, nearly three months after the Graduate Management Admission Council, ETS was able to beat the GMAT to market. The new GMAT Focus Edition, initially announced in March, has been shortened by nearly an hour, by eliminating its essay requirement and 23 quant and verbal questions.

The new GRE is 17 minutes shorter than the new GMAT: an hour and 58 minutes for the new GRE vs. the new GMAT length of two hours and 15 minutes, without breaks. The previous GRE exam was three hours and 45 minutes long (see table below), while the current GMAT test is three hours and seven minutes, without the optional eight-minute breaks.

Sharma concedes that he is “a biased participant” in believing the GRE to be the better test. “Even the shorter version of the test that should not be named is longer than ours,” he says. “We have better pricing. And you can use it across a number of disciplines. We feel that we definitely provide a better value proposition for test takers.”
Based on ETS’ own proprietary data and publicly disclosed data, Sharma says that over the last four years up until 2022, “we have seen the number of students who intend to study business increase by close to 35%. During the same time period, our understanding is that the GMAT has seen testing decline by 50%.”

Asked why ETS is coming out with a shorter test now, Sharma replies: “The quick answer to that is why not. One of the things we are continuously doing is taking feedback from test takers. Any kind of test taking can be a stressful experience no matter what you do. We wanted to make sure we made the testing experience less stressful.”

“At the same time,” adds Sharma, “institutions want to make sure we are providing them with an assessment that has the right reliability. It is a balance between those two measures. We worked very closely with our assessment team, our research team, and psychometricians to design a test that served both of these objectives.”

THE NEW GRE HAS THE SAME VALIDITY AS THE LONGER TEST SAYS ETS

Sharma says ETS was able to revamp the test quickly because of past work and validity testing.“There has been a lot of work happening behind the scenes for years,” says Sharma, who graduated with an MBA from Virginia’s Darden School of Business in 2004. “We are constantly evaluating the test so I wouldn’t say the process started at a particular point in time. We made the decision to pull the trigger around five to six months back in May.”

The shorter test, he believes, is as reliable and valid as GRE’s longer exam. “If you look at what we did to reduce the time, there were a couple of things that were no brainers for us given the advancement in technology that has occurred,” he says. “We removed a break in the current version and there are also unsecured items in every test and we took out that section altogether. And then we went back to our psychometricians and said if we were to reduce it further how would it impact the validity of the test?

“We have tested many items to get better reliability. We were able to reduce the duration of the test without compromising the rigor or the validity. We also were able to maintain the scales in these three sections which is very important to institutions that use the test. We didn’t want to disturb how educational institutions are evaluating those test takers.”

Test takers can now get their final results within eight to ten calendar days, faster than the ten to 15 for the earlier test, adds Sharma.

Sharma says that early registration for the new test has gone well. “We are seeing some healthy early trends but one of the things we have learned is that the real reaction will be in the first 30 days after the new administration,” he says. “The main reason is that test taker behavior is driven by word of mouth. But also some have a wait-and-see approach in the graduate market. We expect that after 30 to 45 days we should start to see some healthy uptake.”

DON'T MISS: REVAMPED GMAT EXAM WILL BE NEARLY ONE HOUR SHORTER or THE NEW GMAT: 10 QUANT & 13 VERBAL QUESTIONS REMOVED FROM TEST

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