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Increase in GRE Test-takers– What Does This Mean for Students?

It looks like the Revised GRE test was a big success – depending on whom you ask. According to ETS, the creators of the test, it was definitely a banner year. A recent ETS press release trumpets the fact that 800,000 students took the exam in 2011, which is an increase of over 13%. ETS chalks up this number to the Revised GRE. What ETS does not mention is that the Revised GRE was only offered beginning Aug. 1st of 2011.

Many of the 800,000 students actually took the old GRE. And the surge in numbers – ETS says the 800,000 is a 10% increase from the previous year – can in part be attributed to those who lined up in droves to take the GRE before it changed in August.  At least that is my take.

Perhaps some more interesting numbers were those that related to the business school side. The number of business schools accepting the Revised GRE was 800, versus 450 for the old GRE. Jumping on the Revised GRE bandwagon were international institutions – supposedly 10% more accepted the new test.

So what does this flurry of numbers mean for you? Well, it depends. If you are an art history major, all these percent signs add up to zero. If you are an international student, or are planning on going to business school (or both), then the numbers should resonate.

For one, the Revised GRE is not some nebulous quantity that business schools look upon with either disinterest or disdain. Apparently, the Revised GRE is legit. For those international students, many of whom have to suffer through the test, you are not alone. In fact, your numbers are growing daily.

As for the future of the Revised GRE? Well, it’s not going anywhere, and the number of institutions that accept it will only grow. ETS is calling it a win-win: business school students do not .

Despite the cynical note I struck at the beginning of this piece, I too believe that the new GRE gives some students more options, and not to be overlooked, is not a test in which some vocab hermit, hunched over the word contumelious, is poised to get a top vocab score based solely on his capacity for cramming and recall.

And for that, I welcome you, new GRE.


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