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ETS cheats students with GRE tests

To the Editor:

Are you about to take the GREs (The Gargantuan Rip-off Examinations)? Well, there are a few things you should be aware of. The ETS, otherwise known as the Evil Testing Serpent or the Expensive Torture Service, publishes this beauty which looks identical to the SAT. However, the math got easier. Unlike the SAT which you took years ago, the GRE General test booklets are almost identical. That is, ETS makes no attempt at rearranging the sections or giving completely different sections to students. Therefore, all the tests proceed in the same manner (word for word) until you hit the experimental section (usually section 4, after the 10 minute break).

The experimental section, although located in the same section in all the tests around you, is the only one that differs from your test (i.e., others may have a math section while you are taking a verbal section). Therefore, the chances of cheating on such a test are astronomical! Couldn't ETS afford to make up different editions of the test? After all, they are charging a price which exceeds marginal cost by a lot!

Also, never get to be a stand-by candidate because you'll get charged $20 for administrative purposes. Frankly, I've never understood this because if the test center runs out of test booklets, you don't get to take the test and you're life is over. However, if there is a test, it doesn't cost ETS any more to give the test to you. Certainly not $20.

However, cost isn't all that's wrong with ETS. They've apparently cut corners and want to keep your money. For example, imagine you are taking the exam during a "Special Administration." ETS can't afford to have such students retake the tests too soon after they have taken one. If you take a test in May, you cannot take the same test in July. Well, one can live with this. Nevertheless, if you sent in the money and registered, they don't flag you until you have taken the exam. Moreover, they keep the money and cancel your test! Isn't this nice? I sometimes wonder who is running this service.

And if the above isn't enough, a student who took a Physics GRE test this February got the same test she took one year ago! When the supervisor called ETS (these things aren't in the manual that dictates what is to be done or said word for word), the Serpent responded as follows: "These things tend to happen once in a while." (Take these tests at least twice!) Before the supervisor gave her the same test back, he tried to look for different editions. Guess what? There were none. ETS is cutting corners and not getting taxed because it is a "non-profit" organization.

As a special service to its victims, the ETS offers practice test booklets which cost a fortune. While other books like Barron's GRE Prep cost $9.95 and give you 5-6 practice tests with explained answers, ETS gives you one practice test without explained answers and charges you $6.95! (If you are ordering a test from them directly, you get to pay $3 for the first book and $1 per book thereafter.) Oh, and don't forget about the software editions. Yes, they are also in the software market.

Finally, to give you an example of how one person might get duped, suppose you are a lazy MIT student who waits to the last minute to register. You have already taken a Special Administration two months ago, and the last International Test Date just went by. You skim through the Special Registration booklet and miss the line that says you cannot repeat tests too soon. You have to take an engineering test and a general test. You pay $58 for the tests, and a $20 fee for special services. You take the exam only to have your scores cancelled. You lose your money and graduate school doesn't accept you.

Therefore, beware of the ETS. After all, you might lose hundreds of dollars. But don't worry, the LSATs only cost $63.

Henry Stavisky '89->