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In India, GRE test takers increased by nearly 2,000 amid pandemic

While the structure and grading of GRE has stayed almost the same, the exam centres seem to have changed a tad in the past couple of years.

GRE, GRE General test at homeFor students looking to better their performance in GRE, experts recommend making a study schedule and sticking to it. (Representative image)

The number of students taking the Graduate Record Examinations in India has gone up in the last couple of years, data collected by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the GRE administering body, shows. Experts say the reason behind the change in numbers might be the new changes and measures adopted by ETS

While the structure and grading of GRE has stayed almost the same, the exam centres seem to have changed a tad in the past couple of years. With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, and the incoming trend of ‘at-home’ services, GRE also introduced a ‘Test at home’ option.

What is GRE general test at home?

“The GRE general test at home is identical in content, format and on-screen experience to the exam taken at a test centre. Launched in March 2020, the GRE general test at home is a safe and convenient option for test takers who prefer to take their exam at home rather than at a test center. The test is monitored by a human proctor online through our vendor, ProctorU, and is available to test takers around the clock, seven days a week,” Alberto Acereda, associate vice-president of Global Higher Education at ETS, told indianexpress.com.

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This new option seems to have worked in favour of the test as ETS said it observed an increase in the number of students in India taking the GRE. According to data released in ETS’ latest Snapshot report, the number of test takers in India has increased from 64,333 in 2019-20 to 66,326 in 2020-21. This figure shows the increased acceptance of new measures by ETS in India, especially since the number of test takers saw a decrease by 6,854 in China, 3,848 in Europe and by 12,406 in other regions and countries.

Technology’s side effects

While the technology of ‘at-home’ option helped candidates during the pandemic years, some feared that test takers might misuse this opportunity and adopt unfair means of scoring better in the eligibility exam.

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However, ETS claims to be a step ahead of this. “We employ a number of proven, traditional measures and tactics to prevent, catch and take action against those who attempt to cheat, and have added technology methods to assist proctors and new methods of post-administration analysis. We have – and will continue – to invalidate scores that we have identified as earned unfairly to preserve the integrity of our tests,” explained Acereda. “Not only do we complete a thorough analysis of each score prior to its official release, but in the event, we collect additional insights that contradict our initial analysis, we can (and do) cancel scores after they are officially reported to test takers and institutions. This is critical to maintaining the integrity of our assessments.”

The organisation is also testing using AI during test delivery, implementing new statistical tools, and additional ways to identify remote access software. Like other exams, students are not allowed to wear headphones or earphones and can instead only work with external speakers. In addition to this, it is also compulsory to show a 360 view of their room, which also assures that the candidate is not present in a public space and is alone while appearing for the test.

“Apart from this, candidates cannot take notes on regular paper. However, they can do so on a whiteboard which the proctor can see. At the end of the test, they should also erase all the notes and show it to the proctor,” explained Tumul Buch, co-founder at Yocket.

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How to increase score

While the ‘ideal’ score is mainly decided by universities, “the average GRE score for all test takers is 151.4 in the Verbal Reasoning Section and 155.8, so it would be safe to say that if an average student can get a higher score than this, they would be able to apply in multiple universities and colleges. However, if any student aims for top universities, a score above 160 in each section would be a safe score,” explained Tarun Aggarwal, CBO and the head of StudyAbroad at CollegeDekho.

For students looking to better their performance in GRE, experts recommend making a study schedule and sticking to it. “The key here is to find the right amount of time so that the student is neither overwhelmed nor underwhelmed,” explained Aggarwal. “Every student must analyse what they have been doing. Analysis can reveal patterns that were earlier invisible. With this new knowledge, a student can quickly identify the scope of improvement and push his GRE score.”

Experts also suggest candidates should attempt as many practice papers to ensure that they understand the pattern of the exam, and then analyse their individual performance accordingly. “GRE is a competitive exam and the syllabus is not essentially something completely new. Most students have studied all the concepts in their school and colleges. So then, it all boils down to how smartly you understand the test, how much do you practice, and your performance on that day,” said Buch.

ETS also offers a variety of free tools to help test takers prepare for the GRE exam. Some of these free resources include monthly virtual prep sessions; video presentations; and POWERPREP Online Practice Tests, and can be accessed by interested candidates from the ‘prepare’ section of ETS’ official website — ets.org.

What is GRE?

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Established in 1936, this test is administered by ETS. GRE is a standardised test which is one of the essentials considered during admission in some of the major graduate schools and courses in several countries across the world.

GRE scores are accepted by thousands of universities across many countries, including institutions in the United States, Canada, the UK, Australia and Ireland, which are some of the preferred destinations among Indian students. This score is also seen as an eligibility by more than 1,300 business schools around the globe, such as Harvard University, the University of Chicago and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), for their master’s, MBA and other professional programmes.

First published on: 27-03-2022 at 01:24:23 pm
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