Starting August 2011, the Graduate Record Examination will be drastically revised in an attempt to reset the scoring system.After next August, the current version of the exam — the standardized test for students applying to graduate school — will no longer be administered.The changes are broad, affecting every section of the exam and its format.Michelle Hanabusa | Daily Trojan“This is the biggest test change in the GRE’s history. Fundamentally, everything is changing — from the type of test that it is, to the scoring, to the test interface,” said Lee Weiss, assistant director of graduate programs at Kaplan, Inc., a company specializing in test preparation.Major changes include a new point system, with each of the verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning sections out of a maximum of 170 points, instead of 800 as it currently is.“The reason the test-maker is making this change is because they want to make sure that small differences in scores look like small differences,” Weiss said.Scores will vary by one-point increments, instead of 10-point increments.“They’re [also] trying to reset the scoring scale. Right now, if you get an 800 on the math section, you’re still in the 94th percentile, so they’re trying to reset it about a mean of 150 so that scores match up with percentiles,” Weiss said.Additionally, test-takers will now be able to skip between questions on the new GRE, which is not a feature on the current version.The current exam, which is administered on a computer, currently adapts each subsequent question to the response on the previous question — if a student gets a question correct, the next one will be more difficult.In the new version, however, sections, instead of questions, will be adaptive. If a student scores well on one section, the next section will be harder.The new GRE will also be longer, by almost an hour, and contain different types of questions in all three sections: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing.The last major change to the GRE exam was in 2002. Test administrators replaced the logical reasoning section with a writing section, Weiss said.Kosiso Ugwueze, a sophomore majoring in creative writing and international relations, said he plans to take the new exam when it comes out.“I appreciate that they’re making changes. Since they’re changing [the GRE], that means that they’re evaluating it,” Ugwueze said.Educational Testing Services, the company that administers the GRE, said the new exam will better demonstrate a student’s preparedness for graduate school.USC officials said the exam could help evaluate a student’s application.“It might be a good thing because it might give us a better insight into how a student is doing, as far as academics go,” said Wendy Jimenez, admissions coordinator for the USC School of Cinematic Arts.The current exam has been in place for several years and is very predictable, according to Weiss, making the change an unpredictable one.Zac Geoffray, a senior majoring in cinema-television production, said he is now more wary of the new test.“Now that I’ve heard [about the revision] I might want to take it before it changes,” Geoffray said.To encourage students to take the new exam, a 50 percent discount is being offered to students who take the exam between Aug. 1 and Sept. 30, 2011. The test currently costs $160.
The Dornsife Washington, D.C. program sent its first group of students to the nation’s capital to study and intern for the spring semester.After going through an application process that included essay questions, recommendation letters and a formal interview, eighteen students were selected to participate in the program. All students are currently enrolled in three classes called, Espionage and Intelligence, Formulation of U.S. Foreign Policy and Managing New Global Challenge. Students can receive up to 4 units from their internship through the program.Jeffrey Fields, USC alumnus and assistant professor of the practice of international relations, is the director of the spring 2015 Washington, D.C. program.Fields first heard about the idea for the program from Steven Lamy, a professor of international relations and vice dean for academic programs.“The main idea of this program is to take students interested in politics and policy and bring them to Washington where they can take classes and work, but the idea is to pull all those things together, the academic studies, the work and seeing practical politics come to life,” Fields said.Students are required to participate in an internship which requires 20 to 30 hours of work per week. Though only international relations are currently offered, Fields anticipated offering classes in political science and economics in the future.Every participant will be living together in apartments and will be taking the same three classes, each student has been assigned to a unique internship. Students are interning in many different sectors, ranging from think tanks on Capitol Hill to government agencies.For example, Dan Morgan-Russell, a junior majoring in international relations and global economy, is working as a scholar intern under Diana Negroponte and Paul. D Williams at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.In addition to researching small, individual questions on topics such as the Cold War and Somalia, Morgan-Russell also is able to conduct his own research. Morgan-Russell applied to the program to figure out his plans following graduation. Through his internship experience with a think tank, he said that he would like to work in the future with a non-governmental organization.“I feel really fortunate to be in the first iteration of this program, and I’m really looking forward to hearing how it continues to grow in the years to come,” Morgan-Russell said. “I really think it’ll be a feather in the cap of the University of Southern California if we continue to nurture this program and give the opportunity to young scholars, like myself, access to the kinds of opportunities you can only find in our nation’s capital.”Meanwhile, Kara Junttila, a sophomore majoring in international relations and political economy, is a research intern at the Henry L. Stimson Center.Junttila helps research associates by conducting background research, drafting grant proposals and coordinating various events. She had the opportunity to write an op-ed with one of the co-founders of the Stimson Center that was published in Roll Call, a newspaper on Capitol Hill. As a result of her time spent in D.C., Junttila plans on staying for the summer to see what’s it like working in the government sector.“It’s such a good experience to get outside of L.A. and to see what there is to do professionally after school and to make sure you like what you’re studying,” Junttila said.Riyana Chakraborty, a sophomore majoring in international relations (global business), is a research assistant at the South Asia Center with the Atlantic Council.Chakraborty performs intern duties such as planning events, but she also does research for acting director Bharath Gopalaswamy. Her current research focuses on Indian space security objectives and policy initiatives.Chakraborty explained that her favorite part of the program is having the opportunity to listen to the guest lecturers who come in to talk to students. “Every single class is a class you can take at USC, but when you take it here, the professors are constantly bringing in outside speakers who are experts in their field here in D.C.,” Chakraborty said. “The material we’re learning comes to life when they come to speak to us and when they tell us about what it’s really like to be here, and that’s something that’s very different from sitting in a classroom in L.A.”Correction: A previous version of this story stated the students are enrolled in one class and are able to receive 16 units through their internship. They are actually enrolled in three classes and able to receive 4 units through their internship. The Daily Trojan regrets the error.