Although the 30-minute Verbal Ability and the 45-minute Quantitative Ability sections will remain the same, the 60-minute Analytical Ability section will be replaced with a 75-minute Analytical Writing Assessment. This particular portion of the test was previously an entirely separate subject test known as the Writing Assessment Test.
According to the Educational Testing Services, the new part of the test "has people doing a task much more similar to something theyll be doing in grad school than clicking in an answer on a multiple choice test."
According to the tests website "www.gre.org," the main goals of the new writing section are to "help admissions committees assess high level critical thinking and analytical skills of applicants," and "to provide a performance assessment that measures a test takers ability to make and critique arguments, which is central to the work done by graduate students in most fields."
The analytical writing section is divided into two parts: a 45-minute section called "Present Your Perspective on an Issue," and a 30-minute called "Analyze an Argument."
The first part requires the test taker to voice his or her opinion on a topic using ample support to prove the chosen point. The second part asks the test taker to assess an argument, not just by agreeing or disagreeing, but by examining the actual logic behind it.
Although the rest of the test still remains on a computer, test-takers have the option of using the word processor or handwriting their responses for the new third part. Spelling and grammar checkers will not be available in order to keep equality between those who choose to type and those who decide to handwrite, even though the main focus of the section does not involve mechanics, but rather critical thinking abilities.
The new section of the test will be scored by two readers, who will assign numbers on a six-point scale to the essays; the final score is the average of the two numbers.
The responses themselves, moreover, will become a part of a test-takers score record starting in July 2003. This means that graduate schools to which students apply will be able to read their essays, and may or may not make them a factor in the admissions process.