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Will the New GRE be more Difficult?

The answer to this question depends not only the section—math or verbal—but also on the person taking the test. Let’s say you are asking about the verbal section. Well, if you a writer, lit major, avid reader, or just happen to possess a preternatural vocabulary, then I would say take the current test. Maybe. The current verbal relies on vocabulary knowledge but also context. Oftentimes writers are much better at picking up words in context and, from my experience, they dread analogies.

One way to answer the question of whether the new test will be more difficult for you is to take two tests, one from the new ETS book and one from the current GRE book. Better yet, take the PowerPrep test that is downloadable of the ETS website and compare it to your performance on the CD test that comes with the latest PowerPrep test. If you do significantly better on one test then the answer to the question is clear.

Still, there may be a slight hitch to this approach: ultimately, we won’t know what the test actually looks like, until August 1st, 2011, when those first intrepid test-takers become our guinea pigs. My guess is that the adaptive section might be tougher then what the revised ETS book has shown us, both for math and verbal.

Currently the Revised GRE ETS book provides us a few verbal sections, some which are notably harder than others. As to whether this level of difficulty of these questions will be the same on the actual test is difficult to say.  Perhaps those around the 90th percentile will see questions far more difficult than those in the book.

Regardless, taking a practice version from both the old and the new GRE books should help you answer this question.


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4 Responses to Will the New GRE be more Difficult?

  1. Eric September 1, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    I thought I’d just share my experience. I took the old GRE a few months ago and, after an unsatisfactory score, I took the new GRE today. I studied with both editions of the GRE books published by ETS. Both tests were taken on the computer.

    Though today they only posted a range of scores, my new verbal score range is mostly higher than my old verbal score range. The old math score was already very good and the new score range is about the same as my old math score.

    The biggest difference between the two is time. I felt like I had much more time with the new GRE than the old GRE. This might be because the questions are no longer adaptive during each section, so I think the questions stayed easy and quick to answer. I had time after every section to go back over some questions and I feel like that helped.

    Also, I don’t do so well on verbal, and dropping the analogies and antonyms from verbal was a relief for me. There are still plenty of hard words, but I found that having context for fill in the blank sentences is much easier than the word by itself.

    • Margarette Jung
      Margarette September 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

      Hi, Eric

      Thanks for your write-up, I’m sure many students will find it helpful!

  2. tota August 3, 2011 at 11:36 am #

    My NEW GRE Experience- Aug 3rd’11

    I gave my GRE today and got a 570 in verbal and 800 in Quant, on the higher range. I found quant very easy in comparison with GMAT. Verbal was tough for me.

    I was praying for quant as experimental section. But got the opposite -3verbal sections and 2quant sections! Couldnt finish the 3rd verbal section in time…was almost exhausted by then!
    My preparation for GRE was for less than a month and i had very little resources. I started with Official Guide & McGraw Hill. McGraw hill has easy questions in both Verbal & Quant when compared to actual GRE. Official guide has very few quesns and is generally not sufficient for practice. I could lay my hands on Kaplan only 10days back and it proved to be very useful. I used to get similar scores in my practice tests in Kaplan. The free tests on also helped me to a certain extent.

    But i dont agree that one can do away with vocab in New GRE. Vocab is important and one should understand the intensity in usage of words that are similar. However, mugging up of 4300 words like in Barrons wouldn’t help.GRE Verbal tests the comprehension skills rigorously and i guess the vocab from regular reading of newspaper or Economist would greatly help. One needs to have a lot of practice in verbal questions. Probably other publishers would release some more material very soon.

    All the best

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 3, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

      Thanks for your candid message. You were definitely brave to have taken the new GRE with so little practice material. I also appreciate your insight about the importance of reading to increase one’s vocabulary, a method I’ve been touting since my very first blog post.

      Also, to clarify – esp. for those coming to the blog for the first time – you must know/study vocabulary for the new GRE. As you mentioned, Tota, the scope of the vocabulary will not be as vast as it was on the old GRE. But as long as one has can open up an SAT book and identify 90% of the vocabulary that person is likely ready for the new GRE.

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