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EDUCATION REPORT - New Version of Test for Graduate School Is Delayed

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I'm Steve Ember with the VOA Special English Education Report.

The Educational Testing Service has delayed the new version of its Graduate Record Examinations test. Use of the new G.R.E. General Test was supposed to begin this October. Now it will not start until the fall of two thousand seven.

The test is required to get into many graduate schools in the United States, especially in the arts and sciences.

The testing service is moving to end the paper version of the G.R.E., so students take it only by computer. But officials say the problem is not enough testing centers worldwide to administer the new Internet-based version.

Vermont high school student Dustin Thomas takes a computerized test offered by Educational Testing Service, February 1, 2006
Vermont high school student Dustin Thomas takes a computerized test offered by Educational Testing Service, February 1, 2006

The new G.R.E. will be given only thirty times a year. Now it is given on many more days. The new test will take four hours, up from three. And it will cost more. Another difference will involve the way questions are asked on the computer-based test.

Now, if a student answers a difficult question correctly, the next question becomes more difficult. The more correct answers, the more difficult the questions become.

The new test will end this system for security reasons. Everyone who takes the G.R.E. on the same day will answer the same questions in the same order. Different questions will be used on the next test date.

Each year about five hundred thousand students take the G.R.E. About twenty-five percent are foreign students who want to attend graduate school in the United States.

Already there are criticisms that changes in the verbal section could make the new test more difficult for non-native English speakers. E.T.S. officials say it is true that the new test asks more questions that require reasoning and understanding of the language. But they say this will better show universities which students are most prepared for graduate work.

As a result of the delay, many educators are advising students to take the G.R.E. before it changes in the fall of two thousand seven.

The delay in the Internet-based version is based on lessons learned as the testing service makes the same move with the TOEFL. TOEFL is the Test of English as a Foreign Language.

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Nancy Steinbach. Read and listen to our reports at www.unsv.com.

And if you have a question about education in the United States, send it to special@voanews.com. We cannot answer mail personally, but we might be able to use your question on our program. I'm Steve Ember.

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