Major GRE Revamp 2023: Top 4 Changes You Need to Know

Whether you’re a seasoned Zinkerz veteran or a newcomer who just heard of us, congratulations if you’re considering applying to graduate school! It’s a big commitment, and we’re proud of your decision. As for attending, many programs require the Graduate Record Examination (“GRE”), a comprehensive measure of undergraduate-level math and verbal reasoning abilities to demonstrate, among the other components of your application, that you’re ready for a graduate program. To get more students to take the exam in an admissions cycle that is seeing more and more schools make the test optional, the GRE has recently been rehauled, with the changes starting September 22, 2023. While there are many minor changes to the structure and timing of the exam, we’d like to share what we feel are the four most important ones.

1: Timing

First, the exam’s length has been essentially halved. Before, the test was administered in 3 hours and 45 minutes; the test starting on the 22nd will be only 1 hour and 58 minutes. We’ll get into how this factors into question length later, but it’s essential to know that you’ll no longer have to sit for a four-hour exam, only two. That being said, it’s essential to note that there’s no longer a 10-minute break between sections; as a result of the test’s shortened length, you’ll have to do things in one go. But if you’ve taken the GRE before, you know the break comes after the two-hour mark anyway, so there shouldn’t be too much stamina adjustment. 

2: Question types

Because of the exam’s shortened length, fewer questions exist. Both the math (in the GRE’s language, “quantitative”) and the verbal (“qualitative”) sections have two sections each, with 27 total questions for each one, or 54 questions in the entire exam before the essay section (which we’ll address in a moment). 27 is an odd number, so expect the two sections not to have an equal number of questions on them (some common configurations may be 13 and 14, or 12 and 15, or vice versa). All the types of questions, though, i.e., the material being tested, should remain the same, and the unscored section is removed entirely, resulting in easier questions overall. The unscored section previously existed so that test-makers could try out new questions to see which ones were too easy or too hard, but it had the potential to lead to confidence drops during the exam. As for what’s being tested, there are many topics, but here is one sample math question and one sample verbal question to get an idea:

  1. 3(a2)6=x, solve for x
    1. a2
    2. a4
    3. a5
    4. a9
    5. a11
  1. One business partner was parsimonious and hesitated to invest in even critical equipment, while the other was _____, but they worked successfully together.
    1. Prolix
    2. Obstreperous
    3. Spendthrift
    4. Dictatorial
    5. Energetic

Answers at the end!

3: The essay

As expected, the essay has also been changed. Previously, the GRE had two different types of essay questions that needed to be filled out: the “Analyze an Issue” task and the “Analyze an Argument” task, the former of which asks students to analyze some philosophical or social issue, and the latter asks students to examine rhetoric and the structure of an argumentative statement. This second type of essay is being dropped, which both saves students time and may give some of our more STEM-inclined test takers a bit of a break from having to analyze something like rhetoric, something that they may not have done since their freshman year of college or even high school. 

4: Things that will remain the same

For all the changes coming, there are a few things, mostly logistical, that are remaining the same. We already mentioned that the content is remaining the same even if there are fewer questions except for the essay, but here are some things that are staying consistent for the exam:

  • Adaptability: the exam will remain adaptive to user inputs, getting harder if the student gets more questions right and easier if they get more questions wrong.
  • Accommodations: accommodations for students will remain the same, but they need to be scheduled in advance. 
  • Cost: pricing will also remain the same, which can be found here (https://www.ets.org/gre/test-takers/general-test/register/fees.html)
  • Amount of retries: testers will still be allowed to try to take the exam once every 21 days, no more than five times in one 365-day cycle from their first exam. 
  • Score releases: while 10 days is still a useful benchmark for how long scores will take to be released, students can consider that on the higher end, as opposed to the old exam, where that was on the lower end of the amount of time it took to release scores. 
  • Availability: the exam can still be taken 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, either at home or at a local testing center. 

We hope this has been helpful!

Answers: “a4 ” and “spendthrift”

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