The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, February 16, 1999 - 5A
GRE, other tests to be
given on computers
By Samantha Walsh computers and in this case, computers paper-based exam because a stu
For the D1y anxiety is exasperated essentially can take the exam whenever they n
Graduate school-bound students,
who are required by most programs to
take the Graduate Record Examination,
soon will be exchanging their number
two pencil soon for a computer mouse.
The Educational Testing Service,
which administers the GRE and many
other standardized tests, will offer the
last paper and pencil-formatted GRE as
of April 10, 1999.
In the past, ETS has offered both the
paper-based test and the computer-
based test, giving students the option to
choose, but now "the freedom of choice
is gone," said Ann Arbor's Princeton
Review spokesperson Josh Friendly.
"It makes sense that ETS would push
the CBT, making it easier for them to
process scores, but this format can hurt
a student's score," said Friendly, whose
company prepares students for the tests.
Friendly argued that changing the
medium of the exam is not beneficial to
students since testing techniques, such
as pacing and skipping certain ques-
tions, do not apply to this format.
"Some students get anxious about
affecting the test taker's scores,'
In addition to what may seem like
downfalls in the format of the exam, the
CBT is designed to adapt to a student's
understanding of the material. The ques-
tions administered through the CBT are
the same as the paper-based exam, but
the delivery is much different.
John Vandenbrooks, a Kaplan
Educational Centers employee, said
"the computer adaptive test is a bet-
ter gage of a student's ability.
Depending upon how each question
is answered, the question to follow is
either more or less difficult."
Throughout the course of the exam,
the computer chooses each question
according to the student's performance,
based on the number of questions
answered correctly up to that point.
Overall grading is based on the level of
difficulty at which a student ends.
An additional benefit of the new for-
mat is that scores are displayed imme-
diately after completing the exam. The
CBT is also more flexible than the
without having to wait for a designated
This flexibility is why Ann Peterson,
an Education second-year student,
chose the CBT after already having
taken the paper-based test.
"I needed to retake the GRE and did-
n't have time to wait for the next-
paper/pencil exam. Even though I was-
n't able to preview questions and I had
to answer them in the order they were
given, I enjoyed knowing my score
right after the exam," Peterson said.
LSA senior Jonathan Rios-Doria
took the test last fall and said he chose
the paper based exam.
"I was used to paper and pencil test
strategies from the SATs and other stan-
dardized tests, and was more comfort-
able with taking that form of the test,"
But Rios-Doria said he wouldn't have
cared if the CBT was mandatory.
"The basic material is the same and
with the computer you can take the test
virtually anytime of the year. It's just
more convenient,' he said.
Asha Bandele reads from her book of poems, titled "Absence of the Poems in My Hands," in Rackham Amphitheater
yesterday. Bandele was promoting her new book, "A Prisoner's Wife," which will come out in May.
LSA may change programs
Currently under discussion by the faculty of the College of
Literature, Science and the Arts is the issue of whether inter-
disciplinary programs should become full departments.
Programs falling under this category include religion, film
and video, comparative literature, linguistics, American culture,
women's studies and Afro-American and African studies.
Each program has its own reasons for wanting to become a
department or remain a program, interim LSA Dean Pat
,he main difference between programs and full-fledged
departments, Gurin said, is that - with the exception of lin-
guistics - program professors are not currently tenured.
"Programs had to work with departments if they were
going to hire someone on the tenure track" Gurin said.
Gurin explained that no particular requirements need to be
fulfilled for a transition from program to department, but the
LSA executive committee gives each program different con-
sideration in "mutual discussions."
"With each of these programs, there's been discussion going
on with what would be their ideal status," Gurin said. "They
d't all have the point of view of wanting to be departments."
t this time, the faculty in women's studies is not moving
for department status," said English Prof. Sidonie Smith,
director of the women's studies program.
Smith said one reason to keep program status - which the
program has had for 25 years - is that if women's studies
were to become a department, faculty members might decide
to shift out of it to avoid having two department affiliations.
"It complicates allegiances to departments," Smith said.
Programs are generally more flexible than departments,
which tend to be more conservative, she added.
I here's a kind of creativity that comes from program sta-
tu and a necessity to explore across possible connections
with units across the University," Smith said.
But one negative of this flexibility is that programs are
more vulnerable to elimination.
"A lot of time, there's a sense that programs can come and
they can go," Smith said.
She added that many programs are interdisciplinary, incor-
porating different fields and interests. A number of courses
offered through departments are cross-listed with University
programs, and the majority of the 115 students majoring in
women's studies have a double major with another depart-
ment, Smith said.
Patrice Beddor, acting director of the linguistics program,
said linguistics started as a department in the '60s and reor-
ganized as a program to reflect the interdisciplinary nature of
linguistics, which incorporates a number of other subjects.
But now the program is raising questions about returning
to department status.
"As a department, we can negotiate on equal footing with
other departments," Beddor said, adding that the main reason
for becoming a department again is because people often per-
ceive a program as a temporary status. "Many people don't
know what a program means:' Beddor said.
LSA senior Marissa Leichter, who is double-majoring in
African-American studies and American culture, said she
agrees that some people aren't familiar with concentrations
offered by programs.
"People don't know as much about it, so they don't under-
stand it," Leichter said, adding that in her experience, pro-
gram concentrations don't get as much "respect" as some
But she said she has been very satisfied with her choice of
concentrations. "I get a lot of attention because the classes are
small:' Leichter said.
Kevin Kruptizer, an LSA senior majoring in film and video,
also said he has easy access to professors in his classes.
But he added that he feels a film concentration would fare
better in the art school or as its own department.
"The film program maybe is not taken as seriously as it
would be if it were its own entity," Kruptizer said, adding that
it could focus on more aspects of film, including production
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