Some issues with GRE computer-adaptive methodology

Certification: Test Prep GRE - Graduate Record Examination


The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is an exam taken by students to get admission in foreign colleges and universities, mostly in United States. The test is conducted and monitored by Education Testing Service. Initially around 1949 the test aimed to measure the verbal and quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and critical thinking. These skills are attained by the students over a long period of time; it can’t be gained by studying a particular period of time in any school. The format of the exam is objective type having multiple choice questions, the scores of the test is a determining factor for the admission foreign graduate schools and the various department within schools. ETS had made some changes in august 2011 in the question pattern, making the exam more users friendly and less difficult in comparison to other exams. The changed pattern will make evaluation of students easier by the universities, enabling them to choose more deserving candidates. The new pattern is effective since august 2011. According to the GRE team this is largest change in the last 60 yrs of GRE history.

The computerized version of GRE is implemented from 1992; around 1999 the paper based test was eliminated. The computer adaptive test provides correct measurement of the skills of students going for graduate admissions. The pen paper based suited some students more than the computerized version. It is found that many students who score well in the starting question tend to start guessing in the last due to time running out. The same problem is with some happens; they answer the tough questions correctly but get the easier questions wrong. The change of pattern i.e. from paper based to computer based, raised the price for the test too. Now they have to pay 105$, double the amount they paid earlier. This high cost o the test prohibits student from lower income group.

The computer based test provides precise knowledge about your abilities to perform. The first question is of average level if you answers that correctly the level of difficulty increases. But in case you answers it incorrectly the question you face are easier. It means that the question at the beginning of the test affects your score more than the questions at end. These questions are meant to test your general ability, as you are presented with that type of questions. It gets tougher to score better when you progressed in the test. So its better you take some time to answer first few questions before answering in fast pace.

The compute adaptive test as the name suggests, it adapts itself according to the answers of the students. It gives a picture of your talent abilities and creates a test according to your ability. The initial response of the students decides what can be their score. If the first question is answered correctly, you receive difficult question. But if in case you answered wrong you will be provided easy questions. Answering questions that are difficult in nature will fetch you high marks. That means question in the beginning are more scoring than the questions at the end.

Be careful while answering

In the computer adaptive method, the scores of each questioned as you answer them. So you have to follow the order of the questions on the screen. Because of this reason you can’t go back and forth in the questions. But in the revised pattern of exam this limitation has been encountered and now you can go back and forth and review your answer.

Requirement of computer skills

To take the GRE in computer Adaptive methodology one have to be verse with the computer general knowledge. You don’t have be master f the computers but you need to know the minimum requirements. However you have ample time to go through the tutorial the tutorial that will help you know how to answer the question and how to use the mouse.

Practice before

You should go through the demo that is available before going for the actual test. This will help you know about each and every section of the test. The tutorial will acquaint with the computer based test.

Preparing your score

After you start giving the test, th computer:

  • Assess you as a person with average ability which might not be true.
  • You are given a medium level of question on difficulty scale. 50 percent of people will answer it correctly while other will not.

This is when the scenario of question level changes. The level of the next question depends whether you answered correctly or not.

  • If you answered correctly, your score goes up and you will be provided more difficult questions.
  • In case you answered wrong, as a result score goes down and you will beprovided easier questions.

The same happens for the rest of paper. This happens every time you answer a question correctly, you get a difficult question and in case you answer wrong you get an easier question. This helps the computer prepare “home in” for your score. So in fact when you come to end of the the section, you will find that every time you answer correctly the level of difficulty rises, and whenever you answer incorrectly the computer lowers the difficulty level. This might be helpful for a candidate who have an average ability but for a person who has above average skills and ability will have score less than his/her ability. Though the pattern has changed from paper based to computer adaptive method, it has some limitations that need to be encountered. But a student should not be disheartened by the pattern and study well for the test if they wish to enter the college of their choice.


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