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Important Information for Prospective MBA Applicants Considering the GRE

As more business schools have begun to accept Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores as well as Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) scores as part of the application process, some prospective MBA applicants are giving greater consideration to taking the more general entrance exam. And to win greater approval by business schools and capture even more prospective test takers, ETS, which administers the GRE, has planned significant changes to the test that will make it even more analogous to the GMAT exam.

With six months to go before these changes take place, prospective MBA applicants who are considering submitting GRE scores are faced with the decision of whether to take the current exam or wait until the new exam debuts on August 1st. Application deadlines and planned content changes to the exam will likely factor into that decision.

From an application deadline perspective, prospective MBA applicants should bear the following in mind: Because ETS needs to collect a statistically significant sample size of test takers to ensure score accuracy of the new test, test takers who take the exam in August, September and October will all have to wait until November to get their scores.

“This will force many to miss application deadlines, and create undue stress for scrambling to retest if they’re not happy with their scores,” said Liza Weale, executive director of pre-business and pre-graduate programs for Kaplan Test Prep, which helps students prepare for the exam. “If you need your score before November, you must take the current GRE before July,” she stressed.

In terms of the exam itself, the planned changes are numerous. The revised GRE will be an hour longer than the current exam, and by most accounts, significantly more difficult. Its current 200 to 800 scoring scale, which features ten-point increments, will be replaced by a more precise 130 to 170 point scoring scale featuring one-point increments.

The new exam also will be adaptive at the section level, rather than at the question level. In the current exam, if a test taker answers a question correctly, the next question is more difficult. In the new exam, the better a test take performs in one section, the more difficult the next section will be. Test takers will have the ability to skip questions within a section and return to them in the next exam, unlike in the current exam.

From a content perspective, the new GRE will feature the following changes:

Quantitative Section
• More data analysis
• Less geometry
• The introduction of numeric entry questions that require test takers to provide a specific answer rather than select from multiple choices
• An on-screen calculator, which could mean more complex math questions

Verbal Section
• No more antonym or analogy questions
• The introduction of in-context questions designed to test both reasoning skills and vocabulary
• New “strengthen/weaken” reading comprehension questions, similar to those on the GMAT

As described, the planned changes to the GRE do promise to make it significantly more similar to the GMAT exam. The response of top-tier schools in terms of which exams they accept and how they view scores from one versus scores from the other will be important to monitor and analyze. In the meantime, Clear Admit stands by the advice it offered a year ago with regard to choosing between the two exams:

“…while several top business schools have indeed begun to accept GRE scores in lieu of GMAT scores, those of us here at Clear Admit urge prospective applicants to think long and hard before opting for one exam over the other. If it’s simply a matter of convenience and ease, consider what kind of message that might send to the school to which you are applying. Getting into business school is hard work. Be willing to work hard for it.”

For background on the evolving GMAT vs. GRE debate, check out this post from the Clear Admit archives.  You can also check out Kaplan’s press release on the subject here.

Posted in: GMAT News, MBA News

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