Taking a GRE test remains an integral part of the grad school application process. However, unlike the static exams and tests you may have taken in school, the GRE is a dynamic test.
However, many people overlook this and prepare to take the GRE like a routine test. Understanding the basics of adaptive testing helps you prepare for adaptive testing and thus increases your GRE score. Consequently, this increases the chance that your preferred grad school will accept your application.
Explaining the GRE
The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is the graduate school entrance exam that assesses a student’s preparedness to handle graduate studies’ rigors. The GRE is an adaptive test meaning your score in the first section of the test influences the prompts that appear in the second section. If you get a very high score in one area, then questions will be more challenging in the next part, and the opposite holds true as well. In such a system, you will not spend time on questions that are too easy or too difficult for you.
Unlike other exams you may take in school or online, the GRE is a computerized adaptive test (CAT) that gives each test taker an equal opportunity. With adaptive testing, the assessment is modified in real-time to match a candidate’s abilities. That way, the testing system can determine a student’s knowledge or skill level and assign a GRE score that reflects their unique strengths and weaknesses.
Preparing for Adaptiveness
Many students taking the GRE test have never done an adaptive test before. As such, they do not know how to prepare for one. If you belong to this bracket, perhaps it’s time you started learning how best to ready yourself.
Working with a test prep agency is one of the ways you can prepare. Such an agency will help you plan your preparation time and master the CAT process. Today’s top GRE prep course options account for the exam’s digital nature and coach students on how to optimize their scores.
Note that the ETS offers the GRE test all year at the various test centers in the world. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about some changes, and you can now take the GRE from home.
Advantages of Adaptiveness
Adaptive testing has significant benefits for candidates. First, the testing process gives students equal chances of answering questions without demoralizing them. Therefore, a user does not have to waste time on items that do not fit their skill set.
- A Faster Exam– With an adaptive test, a candidate’s knowledge level can be determined in a very short time, and the results are available as soon as the test is completed.
- Motivation– An adaptive test motivates the user by giving prompts that are within their abilities. As such, a test taker will spend less time answering questions that are too hard or too easy.
- Assessing a Wide Skill Range– An adaptive test can measure a broad range of skills possessed by a candidate.
Disadvantages of Adaptiveness
Like any other process, adaptive testing has disadvantages too. First, the adaptive testing approach is limited to scenarios where technology is accessible.
- Limited Question Types– A CAT can only include objective questions to allow the computer to differentiate right from wrong answers easily.
- It Requires Comfortability with Computer Testing– Since the test is modified in real-time, it is impossible to deliver the test using any other means. This makes it challenging for learners who have not previously taken a test on a computer.
The graduate school entrance examination is adaptive rather than static and allows students to answer questions within their abilities. To do well on the exam, prospective grad school students need to take this into account while they study. For example, students should practice with test banks that reveal the difficulty of each question. This way, you can get a feel for the fluctuating difficulty of the exam you may experience when you take the test for real.