The Graduate Record Exam has recently undergone the “largest revision in its history,” according to David Payne, vice president for college and graduate programs at the Educational Testing Service.

The revised GRE will be administered beginning in the fall of 2011 to the approximately 630,000 students who take the test annually.

The main changes to the test noticeable to students will be the ability to revisit questions within a section, the elimination of the antonyms and analogies questions and the availability of an on-screen calculator, said Mark McNutt of ETS External Relations.

He added that the test will also be “slightly longer.”

The current GRE does not allow students to return to questions if they are unsure of the answers, requiring them to continue the test.

“We’re offering students a friendlier, more flexible test-taking experience,” McNutt said.

An informational video released by ETS explains that changes to the Verbal Reasoning Section — which previously included antonyms and analogies — are meant to avoid out-of-context vocabulary and promote more complex reasoning.

The addition of the calculator will prevent students from being “distracted by minor calculations errors,” Liora Schmelkin, dean of graduate studies at Hofstra University, said in the video. Students were not permitted to use calculators in the past.

The video explains that the revised GRE is meant to create a test reflecting more “real-life” scenarios like the ones that students will encounter in graduate school.

The GRE will also be graded on a scale of 130 to 170 as opposed to the current 200 to 800 scale, which “won’t exaggerate small differences between examinees,” according to the video.

The revamped GRE — which Payne said has been in development since 2003 — was announced this month at the Council of Graduate Schools’ annual meeting in San Francisco. McNutt said ETS has planned more extensive press releases for the start of the new year.

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