Wednesday, February 22, 2006

GRE and GATE, again

A quick follow-up to this post from four months ago. Today's New York Times reports that the roll out of the new, improved GRE general test is delayed; it is expected to be operational only from Fall of 2007. I found the following bit -- which appears towards the end of the report -- interesting:

The revamping of the G.R.E. was prompted in large part by security concerns, stemming from the fact that questions were reused.

In 2002, an undetermined number of students in China, Taiwan and Korea raised their verbal scores by logging on to Web sites in those countries and memorizing questions and answers posted by previous test takers. Later that year, two Columbia University undergraduates were arrested for using high-tech transmitters to send out test questions.

After the overhaul, every student taking the test on a particular day will get the same questions, and those questions will not be reused.

The revamped exam will also change the verbal reasoning section so that it will consist of two 40-minute sections rather than one 30-minute section, and will place less emphasis on vocabulary and more on higher cognitive skills. The quantitative reasoning section will grow from one 45-minute section to two 40-minute sections, with fewer geometry questions and more on interpreting tables and graphs. And the analytical writing measure, which had a 45-minute essay and a 30-minute essay, will now have two 30-minute essays.

Now, let's turn to GATE -- the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering, used by almost all institutions in India for admitting students into their graduate programs, in engineering in particular. This year, GATE has done away with reporting your percentile scores. So, from this year on, if you pass GATE, the scorecard will mention your score and your rank. The GATE score is some statistical monstrosity measure, which is probably a standard way of presenting information about the relative aptitude of a candidate; let me just state that I don't completely understand it. If you are interested to dig deeper into its mysteries, go to this page.