As you may know, the GRE underwent substantial changes in 2011.
The test format changed dramatically. Students were faced with a longer test and a different scoring system than they were use to. Now, there are 2 full verbal sections and 2 full math sections for each test.
The verbal sections do not include antonyms and analogies and focus more on critical reasoning skills. Reading comprehension and sentence completion take up the bulk of the section, and so students will need to be comfortable with these skills on test day.
The math section did not change as much as the verbal, however there were some changes. Students are now faced with more data analysis questions, higher levels of algebra, and a multiple-choice format in which more than one answer choice can be correct.
In addition, students have access to a simple calculator to simplify their mathematical computations.
Despite all of these changes, 2011 saw the highest number of test-takers ever. There were more than 700,000 test taken in 2011. This was a 10% increase over 2010 for the US.
Test-takers also should be aware that foreign students are also taking the GRE. 2011 saw a 28% increase in the number of tests taken in China, and a whopping 43% increase in the number of tests taken in India. What this means is that the global reach of the GRE is expanding. There are more foreign students competing for graduate schools in the US, making competition for those spots that much more intense.
The test is also available in over 160 countries, meaning that the vast majority of test takers have a testing site somewhat near them.
About 3000 institutions, including 800 business schools, now accept the GRE scores. In fact 80% of the top 100 MBA programs in the US accept the GRE. Thus, it is becoming a more ubiquitous and more widely-accepted test with each passing year.
The new scores are calculated on a scale of 130-170 for the math and for verbal. This is a change from the old 200-800 scale in the hopes that performance of test takers close together would be reflected in smaller point values. For example, a score of 140 is very close to 142, whereas on the old scale, that difference of 2 points could be reflected by 20 points. Thus, the scoring system is being promoted as a better way to compare the qualifications of applicants for graduate school.
The analytical writing scoring scale remains the same with on a score of 0 to 6 in half point increments. Not all graduate schools consider the analytical writing section, so make sure you inquire about the particular program you are interested in.
Beginning in July 2012, students will have a new option regarding the sending of their scores. With the ScoreSelect option, GRE test takers can decide which test scores to send to the institutions they designate, so they can send the scores they feel reflect their personal best.
On test day, when viewing their scores at the test center, they can send their scores from their current
test administration or they can send their scores from ALL administrations in the last five years. They can decide which option to use for each of their four FREE score reports. After test day, they can send Additional Score Reports for a fee. They can send their scores from their most recent test administration, send their scores from all administrations in the last five years, or send their scores from one or many test administrations in the last five years.
This is a major change.
What this means is that students can finally SELECT THEIR BEST SCORE and send it to their prospective schools. In other words, a student can take the GRE multiple times (once per 30 days, up to the maximum of 5 times per year) and then pick the score they would like to send to their school.
This should be a big confidence booster for test-takers. No longer will your prospective program necessarily see all of your scores from the last 5 years. With the ScoreSelect option, you will get to pick!
And this of course means that it is twice as important to get your highest score possible, as everyone else will be able to pick their scores as well. You need to set aside a good number of months to prepare yourself for the test, and to take it multiple times.
Moving through 2012 and beyond, make sure you are prepared for the GRE.