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GRE® Test Preparation Workshop Jacqueline B. Briel Executive Director, Higher Education Programs Global Education Division Educational Testing Service
Overview • • • • •
Overview of the GRE® Testing Program Overview of the GRE General Test Preparing for the Verbal Reasoning Measure Preparing for the Quantitative Reasoning Measure Preparing for the Analytical Writing Measure
Purpose of the GRE® Tests • GRE® scores are used by graduate admissions or fellowship panels to supplement undergraduate records and other qualifications for graduate study • The scores provide common measures for comparing the qualifications of applicants and aid in the evaluation of grades and recommendations
Measure skills considered essential to graduate school success by faculty and graduate deans Provide the only common measures of these skills for comparing the qualifications of applicants with different educational and cultural backgrounds Furnish independent information to supplement the evaluation of grades and recommendations Offer a valid predictor of graduate school performance – Predictive validity confirmed by an independent study using 82,000 graduate students and over 1,700 studies containing validity data for GRE® tests – In early 2014, ETS conducted a validity study of recent full-time and part-time MBA students. Student data was obtained from business school admissions and registrar offices. The study confirms that GRE® scores are valid predictors of success in MBA programs. See www.ets.org/gre/news
GRE® Resources For Prospective Test Takers • The official GRE® website (ets.org/gre) provides in-depth explanations of the test and changes, policy information, test dates and locations, and more • The official TaketheGRE.com website is an easy-to-use site created especially for test takers and includes quick summaries, helpful guidance and some tips on how to get started • Prospective test takers can also visit our official GRE® General Test page on Facebook® and our official GRE® General Test page on LinkedIn® to ask questions and interact with other test takers worldwide
Designed to help advisors and educators give students everything they need to know about test registration, preparation, sending scores and more! Includes easy-access student presentation with script, printable flyers, helpful links and more. Some materials available in multiple languages All downloadable
GRE® Search Service: The Popular Student Recruitment Tool
• A robust database of 500,000+ individuals who are pursuing an advanced degree and want to hear from programs like yours • With recent enhancements, it is now even easier, faster and more convenient to incorporate qualified prospects into your ongoing recruitment campaigns: – – – –
New user-friendly interface Expanded search criteria Ability to delegate full-access ordering privileges Single entry point via the ETS Institution Portal
GRE® Guide to the Use of Scores An excellent guide for all professionals involved in admissions decisions • • • • • •
Overview of the GRE® tests Guidelines for the use of scores Considerations in score interpretation Information on reporting and using GRE scores Score interpretation and statistical information Statistical tables – Concordance tables – Percentile rank tables – Test reliability – Standard errors of measurement • Analytical Writing score level descriptions
Most Comprehensive Data on GRE® Test Takers Worldwide
• Performance information for 576,220 unique test takers who took the GRE® revised General Test between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015 – Includes only those who had valid scores on all three measures – Data analysis includes test takers’ most recent scores only, even if they took the test more than once during that period
• Volume information for the GRE revised General Test population between August 1, 2012, and June 30, 2015 Full report is available at ets.org/gre/snapshot
Skills Measured on the GRE® General Test • Verbal Reasoning: – Measures reading comprehension skills and verbal and analytical reasoning skills, focusing on your ability to analyze and evaluate written material
• Quantitative Reasoning: – Measures problem-solving ability, focusing on basic concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis
• Analytical Writing: – Measures critical thinking and analytical writing skills, specifically the ability to articulate complex ideas clearly and effectively
Structure of the Computer-based GRE® General Test Section
Number of Questions
1 “Analyze an Issue” task
1 “Analyze an Argument” task
Verbal Reasoning (2 sections)
20 questions per section
30 min. per section
Quantitative Reasoning (2 sections)
20 questions per section
35 min. per section
Unscored* (Position varies)
Research ** (At end of test)
Analytical Writing (1 section)
*An unidentified unscored section that does not count toward a score may be included and may appear in any order after the Analytical Writing section. ** An identified research section may be included in place of the unscored section. The research section will always appear at the end of the test. Questions in this section are included for ETS research purposes and will not count toward a test taker’s score.
Approximate total testing time = 3 hours and 45 minutes (plus timed breaks) 23
More About the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning Sections What does section-level adaptive mean? • • •
The computer selects the second section of a measure based on a test taker’s performance on the first section Within each section, all questions contribute equally to the test taker’s final score Both sections are important, since the final score on each measure is based on the total number of correct answers and the level of difficulty of the questions
Myth buster! Points are not deducted for wrong answers, so it is ALWAYS better to guess than to leave an answer blank
Getting started Important tip: It is important to register early! • Students who register early, are more likely to: – Get their preferred testing location, date and time – Create a preparation plan focused on their test date timing
• To register, each student will need to create an ETS account at ets.org/mygre – They will also use this account to view their official scores online when they are available – They can also sign up for the GRE® Search Service to help schools find them
• Students should also: – Review the GRE® Information Bulletin for ID requirements, policies, etc. – Consider where they might want to send their scores and check the school’s admissions deadlines
ID Requirements When students create their ETS account and and register, they need to have their ID handy. • Each country has specific official ID requirements for testing – View ID requirements in the GRE® Information Bulletin or on the GRE website
• The name a student uses when registering MUST exactly match their ID documents (excluding accents). • Students must: – Ensure the spellings exactly match – Be sure to provide their entire first (given) name
They should not register using a nickname or with only a first initial
– They must supply their entire last (family/surname) name
On Test Day Test takers should: • Get to the test center early • Be sure to bring their official ID documents that exactly match their registration or they may not be able to test • Follow the policies and procedures explained at ets.org/gre or in the Bulletin about what is allowed in the test center, test etiquette and more
Test-taker Friendly Design • Other graduate-level admissions tests require each question to be answered in order and do not allow test takers to see what is ahead or permit them to go back • The GRE® General Test features a test-taker friendly design – Test takers can approach the test using more of their own personal test-taking strategies – Within each timed section of the test test takers can:
Change their answers Mark questions Skip questions and return to them Navigate freely
General Tips and Strategies • Test takers should – Become familiar with question formats and directions beforehand. – Be aware of time. – Make sure they understand what each question is asking by reading each question thoroughly and reading all answer choices before answering. There is no credit for partially correct answers. – Answer every question, even if they have to make a best guess. – Use knowledge they have to figure out answers to unfamiliar questions. – Check the review screen before finishing a section to ensure they have answered all questions.
General Tips and Strategies (continued) • Test takers should not: – Waste time on questions they find extremely difficult, since no question carries greater weight than any other. – Spend too much time on the review screen, as this will take away from the time they have to spend on the test questions.
General Tips and Strategies (continued) • Test takers may find the following strategy advantageous: – Go through a section the first time quite rapidly, stopping only to answer those questions the test taker can answer with certainty, and marking those that require more thought – Next, go back and spend time answering the questions marked for further review – Finally, if there is time, go back and answer the questions that seemed to be the most difficult
Getting Unofficial Scores Test takers get their unofficial scores at the test center •
At the end of their test session at the test center, test takers will have the option to: – Report (view) their unofficial scores – Cancel their scores permanently (NOT RECOMMENDED)
If they choose to report their scores – They will see their scores for both the Verbal Reasoning and the Quantitative Reasoning measures – They can decide to use their 4 free score reports at the test center OR not to send any scores at that time – They always have the option to decide later, too
Getting Official Scores Test takers get their official scores in their ETS® Account •
About 10–15 days after test day, test takers can view their official scores online – Includes all scores in their reportable history (past 5 years) – They can print a personal copy of their official Test Taker Score Report
Test takers can select “Order Additional Score Reports” to send official copies to institutions after test day – With the ScoreSelect® option, test takers decide which scores from their reportable history are sent to schools
With the ScoreSelect® option, students never need to send scores from a particular administration if they feel the scores are not their best They always have the option to take the test again They can take the GRE® General Test once every 21 days, up to five times within any continuous rolling 12-month period A recent analysis* by ETS revealed that most people who took the test a second time did better. Score improvements were noted on the Verbal Reasoning measure and on the Quantitative Reasoning measure.
*For more information, visit www.ets.org/gre/news/gre_repeaters_show_score.
Simulating the Actual Test Experience • Free POWERPREP® II Software can be downloaded from the GRE® website • It is as close to the actual computerdelivered test as you can get – Provides two full-length practice tests, which students can use in a timed environment – Allows students to see and try the functionality – Also provides strategies and additional sample questions
Students Can Get Even More Value with GRE® Bundles • Official GRE® Super Power Pack
A great way to save!
– Includes The Official Guide to the GRE® revised General Test, Second Edition, the Official GRE® Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions, Volume 1 and the Official GRE® Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions, Volume 1.
• Official GRE® Value Combo – Includes the Official GRE® Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions, Volume 1 and the Official GRE® Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions, Volume 1.
Official GRE® Guide Mobile App for iOS systems This app features authentic test questions with answers and explanations, test-taking tips and strategies plus more from The Official Guide to the GRE® revised General Test, Second Edition
ScoreItNow!TM Online Writing Practice Use this online tool to sharpen your writing skills. Practice responding to GRE Analytical Writing tasks, receive immediate, confidential scores on your responses, review sample responses and general suggestions for improving your essay-writing skills and more
Skills Assessed on the Verbal Reasoning Measure Assesses ability to: • Analyze and evaluate written material and synthesize information obtained from it • Analyze relationships among component parts of sentences • Recognize relationships among words and concepts
Content of the Verbal Reasoning Measure • To accommodate different interests and backgrounds, there is a balance of questions in: – Natural Sciences (e.g., Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences) – Social Sciences (e.g., Business, History, Political Science, Sociology, Psychology, Economics and Anthropology) – Humanities (e.g., Literature, Philosophy, Art, Sculpture, Architecture, Music, Dance and Theater)
• No specific knowledge of any subject is required
Strategies for Reading Comprehension Sets — Reading the Passage Test takers should: • • • • •
Read the passage and get a sense of its overall meaning and purpose. Use scratch paper to make notes. Note key words and phrases and try to clarify what is being expressed. Note which claims the author makes and which are made by others and merely described by the author. Similarly, note whether the author is hypothesizing something or maintaining it with some certainty.
Strategies for Reading Comprehension Sets —Reading the Passage (continued) • Test takers should remember that all the necessary information to answer each question is in the passage – Subject-matter knowledge is not needed to answer the questions – Even with unfamiliar material, with a little work the questions can be answered
• When practicing to take the test, test takers should try to determine which method is best for them: – Whether to read the passage thoroughly first – Whether to skim the passage first – Whether to look at each question before reading the passage
Strategies for Reading Comprehension Sets —Answering the Questions • When answering reading comprehension questions test takers should – Make sure to understand what the question is asking – Answer strictly on the basis of what the passage says — they should not rely on outside knowledge – Not select an answer simply because it is a true statement – Not select an answer that is only partially correct
Strategies for Reading Comprehension Sets — Answering the Questions (continued) • When answering main idea questions – Make sure that the selected answer picks the main idea rather than a subsidiary one
• When identifying what the passage says explicitly – Test takers should be able to pick out specific portions of the passage that make the relevant statement
• When identifying what the passage says implicitly, test takers – Should not be limited by what is stated explicitly – Should not substitute their own ideas or interpretations; stick to what the author is committed to
Consist of one or more sentences with one to three blanks. Answer choices consist of alternatives for filling the blanks. Answer choices are independent. Require test takers to grasp the meaning of the sentences and, by analyzing the relationships among their parts, to select the most appropriate word or words to fill in the blanks.
Strategies for Text Completion Questions Test takers should: • • • • •
Read the passage to get an overall sense of it. Identify words or phrases that seem particularly significant. Try to fill in the blanks with their own words and find answer choices that match. Focus on whichever blank seems easiest to complete. After making their answer choices, reread the whole passage to be sure it makes sense.
• Consist of a single sentence with one blank and six answer choices. • Require test takers to find the two answer choices that complete the sentence coherently and also produce sentences alike in meaning.
Strategies for Sentence Equivalence Questions Test takers should: • • • •
Read the sentence to get an overall sense of it. Identify words or phrases that seem particularly significant. Try to fill in the blank with their own words and find answer choices that match. After making their answer choices, reread the two completed sentences to be sure they both make sense and say the same thing.
Strategies for Sentence Equivalence Questions (continued) • Test takers should not assume that if two of the answer choices have the same meaning, they are the correct answer. – The answer choices will often contain words that do not fit the sentence. – The two correct choices do not themselves have to have the same meaning.
• When filling a blank, test takers should ask themselves – Should the word be similar to or contrasted with a nearby word in the passage? – Should the word have a positive or negative character?
Skills Assessed on the Quantitative Reasoning Measure Assesses: • • •
Basic mathematical skills Understanding of elementary mathematical concepts Ability to reason quantitatively and to model and solve problems with quantitative methods
Mathematical knowledge expected of test takers: •
Basic concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis – Includes high-school level mathematics and statistics, generally no higher than Algebra 2 – Excludes trigonometry, calculus and higher college-level mathematics
On-screen Calculator on the ComputerBased Test • • • • •
Operated with the keyboard or mouse. Has four arithmetic functions, square root, memory and parentheses. Has a Transfer Display button to transfer a number to a Numeric Entry question (with a single answer box). Respects order of operations (e.g., the result of 1 + 2 x 3 is 7, not 9). Most questions do not require difficult computations, so the calculator should be used only when needed (e.g., larger numbers, long divisions or multiplications, square root, etc.).
Strategies for Multiple Choice — Select One Answer Choice • Test takers should use the fact that the correct answer is there. • Test takers should examine the answer choices to get a better sense of what is being asked. • For questions that require approximations, test takers should scan the answer choices to see how close an approximation is needed.
Strategies for Multiple Choice — Select One or More Answer Choices • Test takers should note whether they are asked to indicate a specific number of answer choices or all choices that apply. • Some questions ask for possible values of a quantity in a given scenario. It may be efficient to determine the least and/or greatest possible value, perhaps with inequalities, before considering the answer choices. • Test takers should avoid lengthy calculations by recognizing and continuing numerical patterns.
Quantitative Comparison Questions • Questions of this type ask test takers to compare two quantities — Quantity A and Quantity B — and then determine which of the following statements describes the comparison: – – – –
Quantity A is greater. Quantity B is greater. The two quantities are equal. The relationship cannot be determined from the information given.
Enter their answer as an integer or a decimal if there is a single answer box. Enter their answer as a fraction if there are two separate boxes — one for the numerator and one for the denominator. Use the computer mouse and keyboard to enter their answer. For a single answer box, a number can be transferred to the box from the on-screen calculator. Enter the exact answer unless the question requires them to round their answer.
Strategies for Numeric Entry Questions Test takers should: • • •
Make sure they answer the question that is asked. If asked to round their answer, make sure they round to the required degree of accuracy. Examine their answer to see if it is reasonable with respect to the information given.
Data Interpretation Questions • Data Interpretation questions are grouped together and refer to the same table, graph or other data presentation. • These questions ask test takers to interpret or analyze the given data. • The types of questions may be Multiple Choice (both types) or Numeric Entry.
Strategies for Data Interpretation Questions • Test takers should scan the data presentation briefly to see what it is about, but not spend time studying all of the information in detail. • Bar graphs and circle graphs, as well as other graphical displays of data, are drawn to scale, so test takers can read or estimate data visually from such graphs. • The questions are to be answered only on the basis of the data presented, everyday facts (such as the number of days in a year), and the test taker’s knowledge of mathematics.
General Strategies for the Quantitative Measure Test takers should: • •
Become familiar with the format and directions beforehand. Read carefully so that they don’t overlook information or misread the question. They don’t want to answer something that is not being asked. Be careful not to make unwarranted assumptions. For example, not all numbers are integers nor are all numbers positive. Search for general mathematical relationships among the quantities in a question.
Geometric figures may not be drawn to scale, so test takers should avoid estimating sizes by sight or by measurement on such figures. If applicable, test takers should draw their own diagram or figure, or make a list to help sort out what the question is asking. When appropriate, test takers should avoid lengthy calculations by rounding numbers before computing an estimate, by looking for comparisons, and by recognizing and continuing numerical patterns. Some questions are most naturally answered by systematically considering several cases of the situation that is described.
For some questions, a fast way to a solution is by guessing an answer, checking it out, and then improving on the test taker’s guess. Test takers should evaluate their progress and switch to a different strategy if they get stuck or if a solution seems to require an inordinate amount of time. After arriving at an answer, test takers should reread the question to make sure their answer is reasonable, given what was asked.
Skills Assessed on the Analytical Writing Measure • Integrates the assessment of critical thinking and analytical writing • Assesses ability to – Articulate and support complex ideas – Construct and evaluate arguments – Sustain a focused and coherent discussion
Content of the Analytical Writing Section on the Computer-Delivered Test • Contains one section with two 30-minute timed analytical writing tasks • Essay responses are typed on computer – ETS software has a basic word processor that contains the following functionalities: insert text, delete text, cut-and-paste and undo the previous action.
• Tools such as a spell checker and grammar checker are not available, largely to maintain fairness with those examinees who must handwrite their essays at paper-delivered administrations.
How Essay Responses Are Evaluated Trained GRE® readers evaluate each response for its overall quality based on how well the test taker: • Responds to the specific task instructions • Considers the complexities of the issue or identifies and analyzes important features of the argument • Organizes, develops and expresses his/her ideas • Supports his/her ideas with relevant reasons and/or examples • Controls the elements of standard written English
Scoring the Analytical Writing Section • Each essay is scored by one human reader using a six-point holistic scale – The score is based on the overall quality of your essay in response to the assigned task.
• The essay score is then scored by the e-rater® automated scoring engine, a computerized program developed by ETS, that is capable of identifying essay features related to writing proficiency. – If the human and e-rater® scores closely agree, the average of the two scores is used as the final score – If they disagree, the response is scored by a second human reader, and the final score is the average of the two human scores
Selected Score Level Descriptions 5.5 and 6 — Sustains insightful, in-depth analyses of complex ideas; develops and supports main points with logically compelling reasons and/or highly persuasive examples; is well focused and well organized; skillfully uses sentence variety and precise vocabulary to convey meaning effectively; demonstrates superior facility with sentence structure and language usage but may have minor errors that do not interfere with meaning.
Analyze an Issue Task • Presents a brief quotation that states or implies an issue of general interest and specific instructions on how to respond to that issue. • Requires candidates to analyze the issue and develop an argument with reasons and/or examples to support that position. • Candidates have 30 minutes to plan and compose their responses. • A response to an issue other than the one assigned will receive a score of zero. • Requires candidates to focus their analysis of a given issue in one of one of a number of different ways (e.g., agree or disagree with a recommendation)
Strategies for Analyze an Issue Tasks Questions to consider when approaching the Issue task: • • • • • • •
What precisely is the central issue? What precisely are the instructions asking me to do? Do I agree with all or with any part of the claim? Why or why not? Do I agree with the claim only under certain circumstances? What are those circumstances? Does the claim make certain assumptions? If so, are they reasonable? Do I need to explain how I interpret certain terms or concepts used in the claim? If I take a certain position on the issue, what reasons support my position?
Strategies for Analyze an Issue Tasks (continued) Questions to consider when approaching the Issue task (continued): •
What examples — either real or hypothetical — could I use to illustrate those reasons and advance my point of view? Which examples are most compelling? What reasons might someone use to refute or undermine my position? How should I acknowledge or defend against those views in my essay?
General Reminders About the Analyze an Issue Task • Candidates must respond to the assigned issue using the specific task directions. • Candidates should feel free to accept, reject or qualify the claim. • There is no “right answer.” • Candidates must make it clear how their reasons and/or examples support their position on the issue.
Presents a short passage that presents an argument and specific instructions on how to respond to that passage. Requires candidates to assess the logical soundness of the given argument according to the specific task directions. Candidates have 30 minutes to plan and compose their responses. A response to an argument other than the one assigned will receive a score of zero. Requires candidates to focus their analysis of a given argument in one of a number of different ways (e.g., identify assumptions)
Strategies for the Analyze an Argument Task Questions to consider when approaching the argument task: • • • •
What is offered as evidence, support or proof? What is explicitly stated, claimed or concluded? What is assumed or supposed, perhaps without justification or proof? What is not stated, but necessarily follows from what is stated?
General Reminders About the Analyze an Argument Task • Candidates must respond to the argument using the specific task directions. • Candidates must make it clear how their specific analysis of the argument connects to the assigned task. • Candidates are NOT being asked to present their own views on the subject matter.
Become familiar with the test structure and timing Become familiar with each task type and its variants Become familiar with the scoring criteria for each task Review published topic pools and practice writing on each task type Review sample responses and reader commentary for each task type Become familiar with key argument concepts Practice writing under timed conditions
Approaching the Two Analytical Writing Tasks When approaching each task, candidates should: • • •
Spend a few minutes thinking about the topic and the specific directions and planning a response. Pay close attention to the specific task directions. Support their position on the issue with reasons and examples drawn from such areas as their reading, experience, observations, and/or academic studies. Leave time to read what they have written and make any revisions that they think are necessary. Avoid excessive irony or humor that may be misinterpreted by readers.
Communicating with the GRE Program Educators: • Visit the GRE® website at www.ets.org/gre/institutions • Questions: – By Email: [email protected] – By Phone: 1-609-683-2002 Test Takers: • Visit the GRE® website at www.ets.org/gre • Questions: – By Email: [email protected] – By Phone: 1-609-771-7670