You may have heard the news by now—there are significant changes coming to the GRE, starting in September of this year (2023). The GRE does change from time to time, though it’s been a while since it’s undergone any change on this scale.
The updated GRE is going to make the test-taking experience very different from what students have encountered over the past several years. If you’re in the middle of your GRE prep, and you’re thinking of scheduling a test date during or after September, 2023, you’ll want to keep reading so you can be prepared for what to expect.
How Does the GRE Change Over Time?
The GRE goes through somewhat regular updates, which are generally designed to improve the test-taking experience, and to keep the test current & relevant for students and admissions committees.
The last time the GRE underwent a significant change was in 2011, when it moved to its recent adaptive question model, added the onscreen calculator, and eliminated certain question types.
According to ETS, the suite of changes taking place in September 2023 “mark the first of several planned future updates to the GRE General Test, all of which are intended to provide test takers with a better experience that values their time and reduces anxiety and fatigue.” That means there may be more updates coming soon, so you’ll want to stay on top of things to make sure your GRE prep is properly targeted.
How Is the GRE Changing This Time?
The main change from the current version of the GRE is that the newer GRE will be significantly shorter—roughly half as long in terms of questions and overall time. Both the Quantitative and Verbal sections of the test will include fewer questions than before. There will also no longer be an unscored section of the test. And finally, there will only be one written essay question on the Analytical Writing section, as opposed to two.
What’s Staying the Same?
Many things about the structure of the GRE are staying the same through this new update. For example, test-takers still have the ability to skip around within the section they’re working on. They can still flag specific questions to return to later in the section, and they can still change answers to previous questions. Also, the onscreen calculator remains available throughout the Quantitative section.
Further, there are no current changes planned to any of the question types or subject matter covered. That means you don’t need to change the content you’re focusing on in your GRE prep. You’ll just need to account for the difference in timing.
What Are the Specific Timing Changes?
The previous GRE clocked in at 3 hours and 45 minutes total, while the new GRE only lasts 1 hour and 58 minutes. This is nearly a 50% cut in the overall timing of the test.
With the shorter structure, there is no longer a 10-minute break, however students requiring special accommodations may still be eligible for a break.
How Are the Different Sections Changing?
The new GRE has 46 fewer questions in total. On the old GRE, both sections (as well as the unscored section used for testing research) contained 40 questions each. On the new GRE, both the Quantitative and Verbal sections contain 27 questions each, for 54 total. And again, there is no longer a third, unscored section.
The average time per question remains roughly the same, with 1 minute and 45 sections per Quant question, and 1 minute 30 seconds per verbal question. This means you shouldn’t have to adjust your GRE study plan to account for different amounts of time per question.
With the old GRE, each section contained the same number of questions. On the new GRE, within both the Verbal and Quant halves of the test, the first section contains 12 questions and the second section contains 15 sections. However, the amount of time per question remains the same, since the second sections allow more time than the first.
On the Quantitative side, the first section allows 21 minutes and the second section 26 minutes.
On the Verbal side, the first section allows 18 minutes and the second section 23 minutes.
Further, the old Analytical Writing section contained two essay questions, one Analyze an Argument question, and one Analyze an Issue question, each of which allowed 30 minutes for completion. The new GRE only contains an Analyze an Issue question, which still allows 30 minutes.
This means you no longer have to practice Analyze an Argument questions in your GRE prep.
Are the Scores Themselves Changing?
The scoring structure is not changing on the new GRE, so scores from the old version of the test should remain comparable to scores from the new test.
However, the scores will now be available more quickly, with official scores becoming available 8-10 days after the test instead of 10-15.
What About the GRE Subject Tests?
Some of the GRE subject tests are being eliminated entirely. The only GRE subject tests that will continue to be available are in Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology. Also, the Physics and Psychology subject tests will be 2 hours shorter than previously.
What About the Testing Format?
The new GRE will only be available by computer—there is no longer a paper version of the test available. There will be more physical test centers, and students will be able to take the GRE online from home in most countries.
When Does the New GRE Take Effect?
The new GRE will be administered to all students taking the GRE on September 22, 2023 or afterward. Any student taking the GRE before then will be taking the older version of the test.
How Should I Change My GRE Prep?
The newer testing format should help make the test easier for students who struggle with testing anxiety and endurance issues. However, these are still important things to work on as you go about your GRE prep. While you’ll have a shorter test overall, you’ll still need to work calmly, accurately, and efficiently.
The subject matter is not going to change on the GRE. That means that you shouldn’t have to change your approach, content-wise.
The best thing to do to improve your GRE score is still working with an expert GRE tutor. Top-notch GRE tutors like those MyGuru offers can help you craft a customized study plan tailored to your own unique learning style, strengths, and weaknesses. GRE tutoring, including online GRE tutoring, is the best way to maximize your GRE performance.
The GRE is undergoing a major overhaul starting on September 22, 2023. While the content is largely remaining the same, the test will be significantly shorter. Students taking the old GRE were faced with a real endurance test, with a total testing time of 3 hours and 45 minutes. While the new GRE won’t be easier in terms of content, it will be a much easier ordeal in terms of endurance, with the new test only lasting 1 hour and 58 minutes. If taking a shorter version of the GRE appeals to you, make sure you register for a test date on or after September 22, 2023, when the new GRE takes effect.