Jenna Yates, For The Miami Student

The Educational Testing Service has made changes to the GRE that will impact college juniors and seniors applying for graduate school.

According to Dawn Piacentino, director of GRE communications and services, the most significant changes are being made to the verbal section.

“We’re going to have more emphasis on text-based material, and we are removing antonyms and analogies from the section, and we will have some new question types,” Piacentino said. “All of the sections are being revised to more closely reflect the kind of thinking that students do when they’re in graduate or business school.”

According to Piacentino, the analogies test vocabulary. The GRE will still will be testing vocabulary on the verbal section, but it will include more reading material.

According to Miami University junior Alex Birdsall, the verbal analogies in the current version add some personality to the test.

“The verbal analogies were a valuable way to assess the well-rounded knowledge of each test taker and by taking that away I feel as though they are taking the personality out of the test,” Birdsall said.

Senior Chris DeFranco, who will be applying to graduate school for psychology, disagrees.

“Personally, I don’t like analogies,” DeFranco said. “I think analogies can be confusing because they’re so open to interpretation, especially when you’re timed.”

According to Piacentino, the GRE is making test taking a much friendlier experience for students. Within a given section, the computer will allow students to move forward, go back and change answers and mark questions that they want to come back to for further review. The new test design will allow studens to use more of their own personal test-taking strategies.

Piacentino said there will be a new on-screen calculator on the test.

“The reason for that is to reduce the emphasis on computation,” Piacentino said. “The point of the quantitative reasoning of that feature is not to measure the skills of computation, but it’s to measure reasoning skills, and so we will have an on-screen calculator that a candidate can use during the quantitative section.”

According to Piacentino, the test will be launched Aug. 1, 2011 and anyone who takes the revised test in either August or September will receive a 50 percent discount on the test.

DeFranco said the test is $150, so the discount would give people an opportunity to take it more than once if they couldn’t afford it.

“It might open it up to more people,” DeFranco said.

According to Piacentino, scores from tests taken in August, September and October will be reported in November. The important point for students to remember is if they need their scores before November 2011, they need to take the current test before the new test is administered.

Individuals who think they will be taking the test within the next year need to plan ahead and think of the application deadlines for the graduate and business schools for which they will be applying.

“There’s over 400 MBA programs that are accepting GRE scores, and that list continues to grow every day,” Piacentino said. “It’s really a great way for them to increase and to diversify their applicant pool.”

According to Piacentino, the GRE has had free test preparation online for many years. There is free software on the website for the current test in July. They have also added new software for the revised test.

“We don’t want cost to be an issue, and so we make that available to anyone who wants to download it,” Piacentino said.