Upcoming Changes to the GRE

In 2011, ETS®, the administrators of the GRE, revised the exam with the stated intention of more closely measuring the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in graduate school and business school. ETS believes that the new GRE format will more accurately and reliably reveal a student’s likelihood to succeed in the difficult academic environment of graduate school.

What are the changes?

A lot has changed with the new format of the GRE, including the exam content, formatting, and scoring.  However, the core of the exam is basically the same. The new revised GRE places more emphasis on data interpretation and critical thinking skills.The test also includes a new scoring matrix, which is intended to help schools compare differences between students in a more meaningful way. A new addition for the computer-based test is the ability for the test-taker to edit or change answers, skip questions and more, all within a section. Another new feature: an on-screen calculator. The exam will still consist of three sections: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. Each section has undergone a change to a degree.

Verbal Reasoning

The GRE will focus on less on out-of-context vocabulary and more on reading comprehension. New question formats will require test-takers to complete passages of text that omit key words and phrases and interpret the meaning of sentences.  The test will no longer include analogies or antonyms.

Quantitative Reasoning

The math skills tested on GRE are mostly unchanged.  The significant differences are found in the item formats.  The revised GRE math item formats are largely the same; and the major new item type, gridded response items, should be familiar to most test takers from the SAT. 

Analytical Writing

This is the least revised section on the exam. The revised GRE will still require written responses in the form of two essays involving an analysis one argument and one issue.  However, you will no longer be given a choice of topics to write about and the writing subjects will require more specific and direct responses.


The previous scoring method assigned a score from 200 to 800 for the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections of the exam on a 10-point increment scale. The new scoring system reports scores on a 1-point increment scale with scores between 130-170 for the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections, and the same 0-6 scale for the Analytical Writing section of the GRE.

Deciding between the Current GRE Test and the Revised GRE Test

  • If you require a score before November, 2011, you MUST take the exam prior to July 31, 2011, under the existing format. 
  • If you do not require your score prior to November, 2011, you may take either format.
  • If you decide you can’t, or don’t want to take the exam before July 31, you can receive a 50% discount on the exam fee if you take the test between August 1 and September 30, 2011.

For more information on these changes, click here.

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