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Changes in GRE

Started Oct 2002, the GRE is tougher on engineering junta. JAM tells you why

The GRE has traditionally consisted of verbal, quantitative, and analytical sections. Engineering and science students from India have always found the quantitative and analytic sections to be relatively easy nuts to crack. It’s the Verbal that they dread. Now, the analytical section is undergoing a radical transformation. It will be identical to the test called the Writing Assessment, which was introduced in October 1999. as an optional test.

The change has been made in order to:
(1) help admissions committees assess higher level critical thinking and analytical writing skills of applicants,
(2) measure a test taker’s ability to make and critique arguments, which is central to the work done by graduate students in most fields.

What the test look like…
The verbal and quantitative sections are unchanged – they will contain 30 and 28 multiple-choice questions respectively in computer-adaptive format. The Analytical Writing consists of two analytical writing tasks:

1) A 45-minute “Present Your Perspective on an Issue” task. An opinion on an issue of general interest will be stated. You are asked to address the issue from any perspective(s) you wish, as long as you provide relevant reasons and examples to explain and support your views
2) A 30-minute “Analyze an Argument” task. You are required to to critique an argument by discussing how well reasoned you find it. It does not matter whether you agree or disagree with the position presented, you have to assess whether the argument is logically sound. These two tasks are in a sense complementary

Sample topics for Writing Assessment Issue task
“It is often necessary, even desirable, for political leaders to withhold information from the public.”

“The greatness of individuals can be decided only by those who live after them, not by their contemporaries.”

More sample topics can be viewed at http://www.gre.org along with scored essays. GRE POWERPREP Software will be sent to you when you register with ETS for the test.

To Write or to Type
For the analytical writing section you can choose to type or handwrite your responses. Typed responses will take abt 10-15 days to report scores, while handwritten ones will take upto 6 weeks. Each essay receives a score from two trained readers, on a 6-point “holistic” scale. (the 2 scores are averaged)

A score of 2000 in the present GRE will be roughly equivalent to a score of 1300 in the new GRE and a grade of 4.5 in the Essay section.

Bottom-line:
Analytical writing is a skill that cannot be picked up in a 6 month crash course. This makes it crucial to build strong English skills from school level itself, reading “deeper” books and arguing with your dad on issues other than pocket money.

Pssst: In case you’re thinking of taking GRE before September to beat the new format, it’s too late. As per informed sources, all seats are booked as even FEs from IIT Mumbai have registered!

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