Test takers complain about the strict test center rules. For instance, test
takers may not use pens or bring their own scratch paper. Paper and pencils are
provided at the testing center. Food and drink are prohibited in the test
centers, as are chewing gum, jackets and hats.
Critics have claimed that the computer-adaptive methodology may discourage
some test takers, because the question difficulty changes with performance. For
example, if the test-taker is presented with remarkably easy questions half way
into the exam, they may infer that they are not performing well, which will
influence their abilities as the exam continues, even though question difficulty
Critics have also stated that the computer-adaptive method of placing more
weight on the first several questions is biased against test takers that
typically perform poorly at the beginning of a test due to stress or confusion
before becoming more comfortable as the exam continues.
The GRE has also been subjected to the same racial bias criticisms that have
been lodged against other admissions tests. In 1998, the Journal of Blacks in
Higher Education noted that the mean score for black test-takers in 1996 was 389
on the verbal section, 409 on the quantitative section, and 423 on the analytic,
while white test-takers averaged 496, 538, and 564, respectively.
There is also a bias towards those students who have the financial resources
to take privately owned test taking classes. These classes do typically result
in better scores; however, many such companies and tutors focus solely on how to
use the test's format to one's advantage, and not how to actually learn the
material on the exam. In the United States, the cost of the general test is $140
US as of July 4, 2007, although ETS will reduce the fee under certain