New GRE, same old story

Hey, here’s a big news flash: The GRE is all about money. Just as I’ve been saying lately in my campaign of rants against this ageist form of human compartmentalization, the GRE is principally designed to make more money for ETS and test-prep companies.

They’ve recently announced a change in the format of the exam, to begin in 2011. (This news tip given to me by my mother, incidentally.) I had to scroll down to get to this little morsel:

Robert Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, a long-time critic of ETS, agreed, saying that the modifications were generally “small to modest changes designed to refurbish and reposition a stale product. It’s all about marketing.” He said that the lengthening of the exam time could make fatigue “a more significant issue.”

The larger question, he said, is whether graduate programs need the GRE at all. Given that graduate programs admit from “a much smaller universe” (of colleges) than do undergraduate programs (with many more high schools), he said that “the argument that you need testing” to compare candidates “is weaker.”

Only one group is sure to gain by the switch, Schaeffer said. “Whenever you change a test, you give a tremendous boost to the coaching industry.”

Historically, test changes tend to encourage more people to seek out test prep services. Some rush to take the old test (on the chance they earn higher scores there) and so use coaching to speed up preparation; and those who are among the first to take a new test are more likely than others to want test prep because they can’t rely on informal advice about the exams.

And, from the New York Times:

Generally, Mr. Seltzer said he saw the changes mostly as an marketing effort, to compete with the GMAT test, used for admission to business schools.

Congratulations, ETS, I hope you rake in the dough. And thank you, universities out there, for supporting their business goals.

Yes, I’m still angry.


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