What is GRE? Cathrael Kazin, ED, ETS gives the answer in exclusive interview to MBAUniverse.com

GRE, or the Graduate Record Exam, is the entrance exam which is required to take if a candidate wants to pursue their higher study in the USA or any English speaking country. GRE is conducted by Educational Testing Service (ETS).

In India, there are many MBA aspirants who take GRE or are keen to take the test in order to opt for MBA in a foreign B-School. The top international B-schools which accept GRE scores are Harvard Business School, Stanford, Wharton (University of Pennsylvania), INSEAD and CEIBS.

Though many Indian MBA aspirants are keen to take GRE but not many are aware of the test pattern, format and preparation strategy of this international exam. To answer these queries and to bring the conceptual clarity on GRE, MBAUniverse.com brings to you the exclusive interview with Cathrael Kazin, Executive Director (Strategic Initiatives), Educational Testing Service.

Kazin is responsible for directing key ETS strategic initiatives, such as expanding the use of the GRE General Test by business schools, both in the U.S. and globally. She led the team to develop and implement the ETS Personal Potential Index (PPI), a web-based system for evaluating the personal attributes of applicants to graduate and professional school.

Before joining ETS, Kazin managed the English language testing program for the National Institute of Testing and Evaluation in Israel. A former faculty member of the Department of English at the University of Iowa, Kazin graduated from Smith College with Highest Honors in English and earned her doctorate in English literature from Cornell University. She also received a J.D. (Juris Doctor degree) from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she was an editor of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. She practiced law at the firm of Hogan & Hartson, where she specialized in higher education issues, and at the U.S. Department of Labor, where she was a Special Assistant to U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.

Excerpts of the exclusive interview:

Q: What is the pattern of GRE General Test?
Each year, thousands of prospective graduate school applicants from various countries take the GRE General Test. Applicants come from varying educational backgrounds, and the GRE test provides the only common measure for comparing their qualifications. Graduate and business schools have used GRE scores to evaluate students’ readiness for graduate-level work. The GRE test measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing skills that are not limited to any specific field of study.

• Analytical Writing — Measures critical thinking and analytical writing skills, specifically the test taker’s ability to articulate complex ideas clearly and effectively
• Verbal Reasoning — Measures reading comprehension skills and verbal and analogical reasoning skills, focusing on the test taker’s ability to analyze and evaluate written material
• Quantitative Reasoning — Measures problem-solving ability, focusing on basic concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis

Q: Is there any special preparation strategy for the test? How shall the GRE General Test aspirants prepare for the test?
The best place to start is with our free test prep on the GRE website. There students will find test preparation materials such as sample questions for all Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing sections of the test.

Q: What is the format of the GRE General Test? A paper-based or a computer-based/adaptive test?

A: Both.  The GRE General Test is offered as a computer-based adaptive test in the United States, Canada and many other countries, including India. Paper-based GRE General Test administrations are offered in areas of the world where computer-based testing is not available.

Q: How can the GRE General Test aspirants register for the test?
Individuals looking to take the GRE General Test can visit the GRE Registration page on the ETS website.  On this page, ETS provides a wealth of information on which test to register for and some important things to remember when registering for the GRE General Test.

Q: What is the schedule of holding the GRE revised General Test in India?

A: The test will be administered on a computer, on a continuous basis around the world. In areas of the world where the computer-based test is not available, a paper-based test will be administered up to three times per year (October, November and February).

Depending on the location, India will have both a computer-based and paper-based GRE revised General Test.  When registration for the GRE revised General Test opens in March, 2011, students will be able to get more information about what is offered in their region.

Q:  What are the changes coming with the GRE revised General Test? What was the rationale behind the changes?

A: ETS has revised the GRE General Test to better reflect the kind of thinking students will do in graduate or business school and improve the test-taking experience. New types of questions now more closely align with the skills needed to succeed in today’s demanding graduate and business school programs.

The GRE revised General Test, which will be introduced in August 2011, will deliver many new test-taker friendly features. Some of the enhancements test takers will notice include the following:

• Less reliance on vocabulary out of context, more emphasis on reading — and no antonyms and analogies
• New navigation features, including the ability to edit or change answers and skip questions and go back to them later, within a section, giving students the freedom to use more of their traditional test-taking strategies
• New types of questions in the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections, many featuring real-life scenarios that reflect the kind of thinking they’ll do in today’s demanding graduate and business school programs
• New question types, like filling in a number or providing more than one response when asked, so they can better demonstrate what they know
• The introduction of an on-screen calculator for the Quantitative Reasoning section.

For those taking the paper-based GRE revised General Test, calculators will be provided at the test center for use during the test.

Q: What is the difficulty level of the GRE revised General Test?
The GRE revised General Test will assess skills in the same three categories as the current GRE General Test: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Analytical Writing.  The revised test has been updated with new question types and an enhanced, more technically advanced test format that will provide more reliable results.

Q: What is the scoring process of the GRE revised General Test?

A: Since there are substantial changes to the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning measures, the score scales were changed in these sections. The Analytical Writing score level will remain the same.

Here are the new score scales for the GRE revised General Test:

• Verbal Reasoning scores will be reported on a new 130 – 170 score scale, in 1-point increments (versus 200 – 800 in 10-point increments).
• Quantitative Reasoning scores will be reported on a new 130 – 170 score scale, in 1-point increments (versus 200 – 800 in 10-point increments).
• Analytical Writing scores will continue to be reported on the same 0 – 6 score level, in half-point increments.

Q:  What are the options for the MBA aspirants in India and abroad after a good score in GRE?
The GRE General Test scores are sent to more than 3,200 institutions and used by all types of graduate programs around the world – including more than 450 MBA programs. 17 graduate and business school programs in India currently accept GRE scores for admission into their programs.
In addition, the GRE General Test is the only test that gives students the option of graduate or business school, ideal for students who have not yet made a decision.

Stay tuned to MBAUniverse.com for more on GRE!

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