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skhann

GRE Twisting Experimental Sections Based On Intended Degrees

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This has happened to me plus the few others of fellow test takers as well as a few of my friends that are in the same boat. The social sciences backgrounders are getting three Quant sections in the GRE. I guess this has to do with the selection that you make before starting the test where you enter your intended graduate field/subfield. Similarly, those from the engineering/sciences background are getting three verbal sections. Is it safe to assume the selection of intended program you make at the start of the test makes that section choice for you? It's not a big deal to tweak the algorithm to give three sections to those with opposing intended degree programs (3 quants for social sciences/humanities and 3 verbal for engineering, for example). Is it happening to others as well and is a systematic device by the ETS?

Edited by skhann

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43 minutes ago, skhann said:

This has happened to me plus the few others of fellow test takers as well as a few of my friends that are in the same boat. The social sciences backgrounders are getting three Quant sections in the GRE. I guess this has to do with the selection that you make before starting the test where you enter your intended graduate field/subfield. Similarly, those from the engineering/sciences background are getting three verbal sections. Is it safe to assume the selection of intended program you make at the start of the test makes that section choice for you? It's not a big deal to tweak the algorithm to give three sections to those with opposing intended degree programs (3 quants for social sciences/humanities and 3 verbal for engineering, for example). Is it happening to others as well and is a systematic device by the ETS?

That sucks! This would be freaking crazy if it were true! I'm in the social sciences and might have to retake it. 

What's the purpose though?

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4 minutes ago, LookingforMM said:

I got three Quant sections, so that pattern applies to me as well (intended music major).

Yes I'm seeing a pattern there. It might not have been the case if it were just me but so many people I'm talking to are reporting the same thing. This is super creepy if real. Unethical even.

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4 minutes ago, pinoysoc said:

That sucks! This would be freaking crazy if it were true! I'm in the social sciences and might have to retake it. 

What's the purpose though?

To make things tougher for test takers maybe?

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2 minutes ago, skhann said:

To make things tougher for test takers maybe?

I don't think that's justified. Preparation for Math varies across universities. Some only require basic math applications while some make you take up to Calculus 1... AT LEAST... Freaking Calculus 1!!!!!

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I had this too, as an intended history major.  Let's just say, I only took Survey of Math (patterns, time card logistics, best delivery routes, etc) and did poorly on the quantitative section.  I didn't have time to retake it, but I hope the adcomm knows that "historians don't math."

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I'm preparing to take the GRE as an intended Classics major, so that worries me a bit. I feel like it feeling off and unethical seems like a fair assessment of this...if I got more quantitative on my GRE I would be pretty put out. 

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2 hours ago, khigh said:

I had this too, as an intended history major.  Let's just say, I only took Survey of Math (patterns, time card logistics, best delivery routes, etc) and did poorly on the quantitative section.  I didn't have time to retake it, but I hope the adcomm knows that "historians don't math."

I guess you will still need a baseline quant score even for History. Bad but that's what is the rule in the US I guess.

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2 hours ago, ClassicsCandidate said:

I'm preparing to take the GRE as an intended Classics major, so that worries me a bit. I feel like it feeling off and unethical seems like a fair assessment of this...if I got more quantitative on my GRE I would be pretty put out. 

Don't miss quadratic equations, coordinate geometry etc. GRE questions are getting tougher especially for non-math backgrounds as they are increasingly getting three quant sections.

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From the responses here and my personal experience, it can be safe to assume there is an 80 percent chance that social sciences/humanities students will get a quant experimental section. Super bad but super possible.

Edited by skhann

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Just to add a bit. When you get three quants, you are not sure which one is the actual one. Obviously the one before the break is the actual one and the score on this one determines you final score. Still, the remaining two quants can be equally challenging and you can't really tell which one is the actual second section. I guess my second quant was experimental as the questions were quite tough. I was happy for a moment that my wild guesses on the first section have been on the mark. Too bad when the third section came up and the questions were relatively easier but still a hard nut to crack. I think ETS is being dishonest by actually messing up the chances for non-math background students. The same applies for those with sciences/engineering background that get three verbal sections. Still I think verbal is easier than math as one has more leeway to guess stuff.

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8 hours ago, skhann said:

Don't miss quadratic equations, coordinate geometry etc. GRE questions are getting tougher especially for non-math backgrounds as they are increasingly getting three quant sections.

Thank you for the tip, I really appreciate it! I'm extremely tense about it already and I'm sure if I went in and this happened without me being prepared for it, it would send my anxiety into a tizzy. 

8 hours ago, skhann said:

Just to add a bit. When you get three quants, you are not sure which one is the actual one. Obviously the one before the break is the actual one and the score on this one determines you final score. Still, the remaining two quants can be equally challenging and you can't really tell which one is the actual second section. I guess my second quant was experimental as the questions were quite tough. I was happy for a moment that my wild guesses on the first section have been on the mark. Too bad when the third section came up and the questions were relatively easier but still a hard nut to crack. I think ETS is being dishonest by actually messing up the chances for non-math background students. The same applies for those with sciences/engineering background that get three verbal sections. Still I think verbal is easier than math as one has more leeway to guess stuff.

Thank you for adding all of this in, it helps to know this before going in. 

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As an applicant to political science PhD programs, I took the GRE three (yes, three) times. Two out of the three tests had 3 quantitative sections. 

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I’ve applied to Computer Science PhD programs and took the GRE twice. Both times had three quantitative sections. So I feel your pain; the quantitative is the only section I studied for and the only one I really cared about due to my intended field of study, yet I ended up receiving higher percentiles for verbal and writing :-/.

I know the extra quantitative section helped drive my scores down just because I get testing fatigue after a while (I’ve been out of school for over a decade so I’m not in the habit of taking rigorous timed tests).

Though the second time I took the test I was lucky that the second quantitative section was SUPER easy (I finished with around 10 minutes to spare), so it was definitely the experimental section, and left me refreshed enough to do a bit better on the third and final quantitative section, that was actually reported. I still didn’t do as well as I know I could, especially if I was only given two quantitative sections as early as possible, but I didn’t feel it made sense to give the GRE another shot. I just hope it doesn’t end up biting me in the end.

I actually wonder if ETS makes any effort to determine the effect of the extra unreported section on reported GRE scores. I would not be surprised if it does have a negative impact on score potential depending on the particular subscore of interest for a given test taker.

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For what it's worth, I also put my intended major to be a STEM one and my experimental section was a quantitative one. Maybe they just put more of those in, or maybe the really small sample size we have here isn't enough to draw any conclusions!

I also got an extra AW section that was identified as an experimental section and I was given the choice on whether or not I wanted to complete it. It was at the very end. I chose to do it since I had arrived early for the test and they let me start early and I had to travel for the test so I was staying with a friend who would not be back home yet.

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I am Genetics and I got three verbal sections.

Interesting.

I think our numbers are probably not enough to assume this is how they do it, but three Quant sections would be much more stressful in my opinion. I was soo glad to see that third verbal pop up lol.

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4 hours ago, deutsch1997bw said:

As an applicant to political science PhD programs, I took the GRE three (yes, three) times. Two out of the three tests had 3 quantitative sections. 

I feel your pain. P.S. Did you mention  Polt.Sci/IR in all three tests as your intended major?

Edited by skhann

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1 hour ago, TakeruK said:

For what it's worth, I also put my intended major to be a STEM one and my experimental section was a quantitative one. Maybe they just put more of those in, or maybe the really small sample size we have here isn't enough to draw any conclusions!

I also got an extra AW section that was identified as an experimental section and I was given the choice on whether or not I wanted to complete it. It was at the very end. I chose to do it since I had arrived early for the test and they let me start early and I had to travel for the test so I was staying with a friend who would not be back home yet.

Extra AW? I would have loved that. Did you appear recently? I've not heard many getting experimental AWs.

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49 minutes ago, GCBrittany said:

I am Genetics and I got three verbal sections.

Interesting.

I think our numbers are probably not enough to assume this is how they do it, but three Quant sections would be much more stressful in my opinion. I was soo glad to see that third verbal pop up lol.

This is subjective. Non-math ones dread Quant and the STEM types get scared of verbal.

Edited by skhann

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2 hours ago, spamhaus said:

I’ve applied to Computer Science PhD programs and took the GRE twice. Both times had three quantitative sections. So I feel your pain; the quantitative is the only section I studied for and the only one I really cared about due to my intended field of study, yet I ended up receiving higher percentiles for verbal and writing :-/.

I know the extra quantitative section helped drive my scores down just because I get testing fatigue after a while (I’ve been out of school for over a decade so I’m not in the habit of taking rigorous timed tests).

Though the second time I took the test I was lucky that the second quantitative section was SUPER easy (I finished with around 10 minutes to spare), so it was definitely the experimental section, and left me refreshed enough to do a bit better on the third and final quantitative section, that was actually reported. I still didn’t do as well as I know I could, especially if I was only given two quantitative sections as early as possible, but I didn’t feel it made sense to give the GRE another shot. I just hope it doesn’t end up biting me in the end.

I actually wonder if ETS makes any effort to determine the effect of the extra unreported section on reported GRE scores. I would not be surprised if it does have a negative impact on score potential depending on the particular subscore of interest for a given test taker.

I think it does have an impact on the final score but ETS is only concerned about minting money. For me, the extra Quant drained me of energy and I actually got panicked. I had the hunch that the second quant was easy and thus my final score is messed up. I bungled on the second verbal. Lost focus. Bad scores.

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