Students facing the uncertainty of applying to graduate school are encountering another unknown in the form of the new GRE.

The new GRE — or the Graduate Record Examinations — which took effect Aug. 1, is now longer — at nearly four hours instead of three — has a new scoring scale and includes multiple changes to several subsections. Despite student concerns about the new format, some University students think the new exam will more accurately test their knowledge.

Antonym and analogy questions in the verbal reasoning section have been eliminated. Instead, there are now contextual and reasoning-based inquiries. For the quantitative reasoning section, there is now “numeric entry,” which means multiple choice options aren’t provided. Additionally, some questions now have multiple correct answers, and there is no partial credit.

Before the most recent revision, the GRE was last changed in 2002, Lee Weiss, director of graduate programs at Kaplan Test Prep in New York and a GRE instructor. The Educational Testing Service, which administers the test, announced in December 2009 that it was planning to update the test again because of feedback from graduate and business schools.

“Essentially, what (graduate programs and business schools) were saying was the old test was not the most accurate representation of the skill set necessary to succeed in graduate school,” Weiss said.

A newly released Kaplan survey stated more than half of the nation’s top business school programs are now accepting the new GRE as an alternative to the Graduate Management Admission Test.

With the changes, students have expressed concern about the extended test length, which Weiss said he believes was designed to test endurance and mental stamina.

Weiss said students should not be too worried about the new GRE despite the alterations.

“From all indications, the ETS is doing a good job of educating graduate programs, and students should feel very comfortable taking this test,” he said.

University alum Jesse Song, who graduated in April, plans to take the GRE this year. Song said he likes the new version of the test a lot better because it focuses on understanding rather than memorization.

“As someone who has a limited lexicon but reads frequently, the new GRE is a lot easier,” he said. “It’s based more on reading comprehension rather than just memorizing vocabulary.”

Jonathon Hung, a 2009 University graduate, plans to take the GRE this year and also said he prefers it to the old version.

“It does take some adjustment to get used to the new question style,” Hung said. “But I think grad schools will have a better idea of how their applicants will handle higher-level education.”

However, University alum Brittney Miller, who graduated this spring, said she thinks the revised GRE still may not be the best test to efficiently assess the academic abilities of future graduate students. Miller said she knew a few people who did not “perform optimally” on the GRE yet still succeeded in graduate school as well as in their careers.

“Then again, maybe those people are outliers,” Miller said.

Correction Appended: A previous version of this article misidentified Lee Weiss. He is the director of graduate programs at Kaplan Test Prep in New York and a GRE instructor. The previous article also implied more business schools are now accepting the GRE because of the changes made to the exam.

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