Educational Testing Service discards remake of GRE test

By Danielle Gaines

The makers of the GRE graduate school standardized test have scrapped an extensive makeover of the test, citing concerns they wouldn’t be able to accommodate enough students at test centers.

The Educational Testing Service, which designs the exam, had already delayed planned revisions twice.

Changes expected included lengthening the exam from two-and-a-half to four hours and decreasing the number of testing dates available to students.

Abbie Broga, director of the University Testing Center, said the changes allow the center to continue business as usual.

“Continuing to do the exam as a computer-based test means we can still offer it six days a week,” Broga said. “People will still have access.”

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On Monday, ETS and the GRE Board said they did not have the capacity to make the planned switch this fall. Instead, they would stick with the old test and the centers where it was already being administered. The test had been in development for about five years, said ETS spokesman Tom Ewing.

“In the last three months we’ve looked very carefully at the issue of access and whether there were enough Internet-based testing centers available to ensure that every student who wanted to take the test could,” he said. “It became clear that there were not enough domestically.”

The GRE is taken by between 550,000 and 600,000 applicants to graduate programs annually.

Even though it scrapped the planned changes, ETS said it is still considering whether to increase the price of the exam. It had previously announced the cost would rise but had not said by how much. The current exam costs $130 in the United States and $160 in most other places.

“We’re still evaluating whether the price is going to go up,” Ewing said. “We suspect it will but we just don’t know at this point.”

ETS was also planning substantive changes such as eliminating antonym and analogy questions and emphasizing more critical reading.

Russell Schaffer, senior communications manager at Kaplan Test Prep, said students will still be able to get adequate tutoring on the existing exam, despite the fact that the company had been updating their curriculum.

“It is definitely something that was not expected,” Shaffer said. “But Kaplan has a long and successful history of preparing students for exams.”

Shaffer added that the time of the announcement allows students more time to adequately prepare for the existing exam.

“It is definitely a positive thing that ETS realized the changes would do more harm than good before they went into effect,” Shaffer said. “We support the changes for this reason. They did a lot of research before coming to the conclusion.”

Associated Press reports contributed to this report