The road to graduate school will soon be getting a makeover.
Starting on Aug. 1, Penn students taking the Graduate Record Exam for graduate school admission will see a revamped version of the test.
The new GRE will be an hour longer than the current exam, according to Educational Testing Services, the administer of the GRE. The revised test will also include new questions in the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections that aim to better reflect graduate school work.
At the School of Arts and Sciences, the GRE is currently a “reasonably important component of an application” for more than 30 graduate programs, SAS Associate Dean for Graduate Studies Ralph Rosen wrote in an e-mail.
However, he added that a student’s personal statement and letters of recommendation are generally “the two most important aspects of a file.”
Rosen does not think that the revised GRE will change how SAS graduate programs use the exam in the admissions process.
Graduate School of Education Dean Andy Porter said the current GRE is “a quantitative and readily available tool that helps us measure applicants,” but said he is unsure if test revisions will alter the meaning of exam results.
For Penn students looking to take the GRE before they graduate, one important concern looms — whether to take the current or revised version of the test.
Andrew Mitchell, director of pre-business programs at Kaplan Test Prep, is advising current undergraduates to “strongly consider” taking the GRE before Aug. 1 if they hope to attend graduate school in the near future.
Since ETS must compile a statistically significant sample of test scores to ensure the new GRE’s accuracy, Mitchell explained that students who take the exam in August, September or October won’t get their results back until mid-November. Currently, the average wait time for computer-based GRE scores is 10 days.
Such a long layover in the future might cause some unaware applicants to miss important graduate school admissions deadlines, Mitchell said.
“Taking the test before August is going to be the only way to get a prompt score … and to ensure that applicants who have early deadlines are set throughout the admissions process,” he said.
College junior Rachel Cohen will be taking the GRE before the Aug. 1 change this summer to ensure that her scores will be in on time. Cohen, who is hoping to attend veterinary school after graduation, explained that some of her application deadlines are as early as Oct. 1.
However, Senior Associate Director of Career Services Peter Stokes said waiting to take the revised exam “may be in a student’s interest if their application deadline permits it.”
Stokes, who has come across a “surprisingly small” number of Penn students who are aware of the upcoming changes, said that the “new exam looks quite good from what I’ve seen.”
College junior Camille Woodbury said that she will “probably take both” the current and revised GRE in order to ensure a more complete testing experience.
“I see a lot of practical benefits in taking it multiple times,” she said. “It seems like a pretty safe bet.”
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