Category: Changes

The New York Times reports that although the percentage of high school students completing a rigorous curriculum rose from 5 percent in 1990 to 13 percent in 2009, test scores have remained about the same from year to year.

What does this suggest? Probably that many of those advanced courses are not as advanced as they claim. There is no evidence that students are mastering more content than previously. One of the main culprits, unsurprisingly? The College Board’s Advanced Placement program, in which more students than ever before now participate, and in which more students than ever before fail the A.P. test.


Now no one panic; this won’t be happening for years, 2015 at the earliest. But it’s an interesting prospect. Inside Higher Ed reports that a special panel has proposed the following changes to the MCAT:

  • Eliminating the writing section, which medical schools tend not to consider closely
  • Adding a behavioral and social sciences section to reflect “the evolving nature of medicine”
  • Increasing the length of the test (5.5 hours)  by 90 minutes
  • Changing the current verbal section to “Critical Analysis and Reading Skills”

The chair of the committee that drafted the plan explains the recommendation for a social sciences section:

It’s very clear that in this country a large proportion of illness is related to behavior and social and cultural problems. So we want to encourage the applicant to medical school to be thinking about those and reading about those early … you do need a solid foundation in the sciences, but you need more than that. You need to think critically and reason, and understand the differences in our society and the patients you see as a physician. We need people who are critical thinkers and people who have sensitivity and understanding of different cultures.

Lawmakers say they’ve agreed on the broad strokes of a higher-education bill that would give Washington’s five public universities and The Evergreen State College authority to set in-state undergraduate tuition for the next four years.

This will mean a tuition hike of about 13 to 16 percent to make up for cuts in higher-ed funding, but also a sharp increase in the percentage of families who will qualify for financial assistance.

So what will this mean for students and their families? For those earning less than about $97,500 a year, it’s good news. Students who pay full tuition are the ones who will make up for the tuition increases.

The bill will also set UW’s in-state freshman enrollment at a minimum of 4,000 students,

The new GRE format will be:

Analytical Writing: 1 Issue topic: 30 minutes

Analytical Writing: 1 Argument topic: 30 minutes

Verbal Reasoning: 2 sections, approx. 20 ques. each: 30 minutes

Quantitative Reasoning: 2 sections, approx. 20 ques. each: 35 minutes

Plus a possible unscored section, and a possible research section.

Please do check out for more info.


On August 1st, it’s coming: the revised GRE.

The Good: The new GRE will more accurately measure test-takers’ skills that they will need in graduate school. This means no more analogies, but much more reading comprehension. (Check out the linked Times article for sample questions.) And students will be allowed to use calculators. Test-takers will also be allowed to return to previous questions on each section, and even skip questions.

The Bad: It’ll be harder, and 30 minutes longer, for a total of 3 hours and 45 minutes. But that’s why we’re here for you!

Stay tuned for everything you’ll need to know to conquer the new GRE.

Yes, according to The New York Times. The master’s is currently the fastest-growing degree, and is on its way to becoming the entry degree to a wide variety of professions, especially now that degrees are specific and utilitarian (think supply chain management) and often with internships built in.

So why the trend? Some blame the devaluing of the college degree. As colleges turn out more grads than the market can hire, a master’s becomes almost essential if you don’t have a Bachelor’s from a highly elite undergrad institution.

It’s not exactly bad news for the universities, for whom master’s programs tend to be unfunded (unlike the PhD track) and therefore cash cows. For students, some of the programs provide direct access to potential employers, who draw from the programs they know to provide effective job training.

Some worry that the trend signals a shift in graduate work from an intellectual pursuit to job training. But in an age when grad-school-as-intellectual-pursuit is landing students hardly any jobs, this shift seems practical. In fact, it seems to yours truly that the only graduate degree worth pursuing at this point is one that has a reasonable chance of helping students obtain a job that will allow them to pay off the debt accrued in grad school.