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Upcoming Changes to the GRE: Will it be shorter and easier?

There are many questions about the upcoming GRE exam. Will it be shorter? Will it be easier? Will it have the same content? When will it start? In short, the main differences of the new GRE are the following: only one essay, less questions, and no experimental unscored section. This sounds like the perfect scenario for any test taker! However, this blog post will dig deep into the answers to these questions and so much more!

Why are they changing the test?

ETS (the creators of the GRE exam) are trying to create a comprehensive exam that anyone can take for any graduate program. Over the years, many individuals were straying away from taking standardize exams, so ETS wanted to modify their exam so it is more do-able for anyone. They realized that sitting for almost 4 hour exam was challenging for many people, which is why they are shortening the exam. This makes it a more manageable exam that can be used for any graduate program, business school, and even law school.

What changes will occur?

The five main changes are listed below:

  • Removal of the “Analyze an Argument” task in the Analytical Writing section. In the previous exam there was an “Analyze an Argument Essay”, which proposes an argument and asks the test taker to take an analysis on the validity of the argument through identify assumptions, questions, or flaws. This essay will still be present on the new GRE. However, the old GRE included an additional essay called the “Analyze an Issue Essay”, which proposes an issues and asks the test taker if they agree or disagree with that viewpoint. This essay will be removed, leaving only one essay for test takers to write.
  • Reduced number of questions in the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections: On the original GRE there were 40 quantitative questions and 40 verbal questions, broken up between two 20 question sections each. However, even though the new GRE exam will still have 2 quant sections and 2 verbal section, there will be a total of only 27 questions for quant and 27 questions for verbal.
  • Removal of the experimental unscored section: In the previous GRE exam, there was an experimental unscored section. This section was used for the test makers to try out questions to see if they were fair prior to launching them on an actual GRE exam. This section was randomly placed into the exam, so the test taker needed to take all sections seriously even though one of the sections did not count to their overall score. However, ETS has eliminated this extra section to cut down on the overall test taking time.
  • Receive official scores sooner: Once you took the previous GRE, you wouldn’t receive your scores for 10-15 calendar days. However, now you will receive your scores in 8-10 calendar days.
  • Removal of the scheduled break: In the previous exam, you were able to take one 10 minutes scheduled break; however, with the new revised GRE students are no longer able to take a break unless they applied and received accommodations for disabilities or health related needs. Therefore, they will be required to take the entire exam with no breaks.

Will the exam be shorter?

As you can see, ETS is eliminating many sections of the current GRE, such as the Argument Essay, the experimental section, 13 questions within the verbal section, and 13 questions within the quantitative sections. Therefore, naturally, the exam will be shorter. The previous GRE was 3 hours 45 minutes; however, the new shorter GRE will only be 1 hour 58 minutes.

Will the exam be easier?

Even though the exam will be shorter, unfortunately, the content will still be the same difficulty; therefore, the exam will not be easier. However, some may argue that even if the content is the same, the exam will be easier since you need less stamina for a 2 hour exam as opposed to a 4 hour exam.

How and when will the testing format change?

The testing format will change on September 22nd, 2023 to 1 essay task (30 minutes), 2 verbal sections (41 minutes) and 2 quant sections (47 minutes). The two verbal sections will have 27 questions combine and the two want sections will have 27 questions total as well.

chart displaying how GRE is changing - old vs new

Can I still sign up for the old format?

You will be able to take the old exam until September 22, 2023. On that date and after that date, any exams that are scheduled will be in the new shortened format and you will no longer be able to sign up for the old format. Therefore, if you are hoping to take the longer version, make sure to pick an exam date before September 22nd, 2023.

Will the scoring scale be the same?

Yes! Their goal is to keep the grading scale the exact same. Meaning, both the revised GRE and the old GRE are scored on a scale of 130-170 (Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning tests) and 0-6 (Analytical Writing).

Will graduate programs care which exam you take?

No. Graduate programs, business schools, and law schools will all value the old and new GRE the same. They will not take preference of one exam over the other. Additionally, since the scoring will be the same, the universities won’t even take note of which exam you took.

Will my old score still be valid?

Absolutely! If you took the exam prior to September 22, 2023, your old GRE scores will still be valid for the typical duration of 5 years.

What materials can I use to study for the new GRE?

Since the content on the new revised GRE will be the same, test takers can continue to use the old GRE materials for studying. However, starting in September, ETS will release practice tests that resemble the new exam format. There will be two different types of exams available. One will be POWERPREP® Online, which will be free and will provide scores on the Quant and Verbal sections. Another version, called POWERPREP PLUS® Online, will cost $39.95 and will provide scores on all three sections: Quant, Verbal, and Writing.

Is it better to take the new GRE or the old GRE?

If you are deciding between the new GRE or the old GRE there are a few considerations. First and foremost, make sure to check when your applications are due. If they are due in early October, it would be best to take the old GRE exam as it will take 10-15 days to receive your scores and you will want to make sure you receive your scores before the application deadline. However, if your application deadline is after October, then it is up to you!

If you have been practicing with the longer exam and want to resemble what you have been practicing, then the older GRE might be the right fit for you. Also, the older exam has more questions, so there is a bit more room for error. However, if you have trouble with stamina and don’t like writing, the the new revised version of the GRE would be best since it eliminates one of the essays and it is a shorter exam overall. However, all-in-all it is pup to you as graduate programs do not care which exam you take.

How can I prepare best for the new exam?

Many individuals just jump into practice tests and take them over and over. However, without studying the actual content of the exam, improve will be limited. Therefore, the best way to study for this exam is to first understand all the content on the test, then review test taking tips/tricks while tackling small dills to build up stamina, and then dealing into the full length exams with revising content in between each exam. If you are having trouble creating a study plan like this or sticking to the study plan, reaching out to a tutor could be helpful. Tutors typically save you time and effort so instead of you reading an entire 500 page book on the GRE or spending endless hours surfing the web, they are a one-stop-shop that can relay all of the valuable tips and tricks while focusing on your specific strengths and weaknesses

Additionally, using Prep For Success’ free GRE resources is a great way to prepare for the exam. Some of the most valuable resources are their blog posts on the tips and tricks for vocabulary, all the formulas on the quantitative section of the GRE, logic reading comprehension and general reading compression tips and tricks.

Best of luck studying for the GRE! And never hesitate to reach out.

About the author

Samantha is the co-founder and COO of Prep For Success Tutors! She has been tutoring in the GRE for over 10 years and is passionate about helping her students. Never hesitate to reach out to her to get support in your GRE studies. She would love to teach you her tips and tricks!

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