GRE

Developed by Educational Testing Service (ETS) based in the US, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) has been developed to evaluate the verbal, analytical and mathematical skills of the candidates. The scores of this standardized test helps the graduate schools (conducting courses other than business related studies) to assess the advanced study potential of their prospective students.

ETS is a subsidiary of the Graduate Record Examination Board, which is an international non-profit organization formed by prestigious graduate business schools all over the world. GRE scores are often required by the accredited business, professional or graduate schools and a school, division or department within the school. Non-accredited institutions, approved by the GRE Board, can also receive the scores of the applicants.

ETS can send your GRE scores to a maximum of four universities chosen by you. The costs of sending these scores are in-built in the fees that you pay for appearing in the test. GRE test result comprises:

  • Total score – Maximum marks allotted are 1600,
  • Sectional scores (for verbal and quantitative sections) – Maximum marks allotted are 800 for each section.
  • Analytical writing assessment score: It is scored separately on a scale of 6 based on the overall impact of the essays written by a student.
  • % below: This represents the percentage of examinees who appeared in GRE exams in the most recent 3-year period and scored less than you.

On an average, the scores for the Verbal and Quantitative Sections generally fall in the range of 470 to 570. There are no standard measures for Analytical Writing Assessment.

Important: The test scores of the test are valid only for five years.

GRE Test Versions:

There are two versions of GRE test:

  • Graduate Management General Test, and
  • GRE Subject Test.

GRE General test

This test is open to all candidates, irrespective of their age or educational background. Generally taken by prospective graduate students, this test measures verbal reasoning, analytical writing, critical writing and quantitative reasoning skills of a candidate.

GRE Subject test

This version of GRE exam assesses candidates’ knowledge level and accomplishments in a specific field of study. Unlike the GRE General test, this test is available only thrice in a year and can be taken only as the paper-based test.

The scores of this test are often required for doctoral programmes in the US, though some universities require the GRE Subject test scores for Masters-level programmes too.

The eight subjects in which the GRE subject test is presently conducted are:

  • Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • English Literature
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Psychology

GRE test format

Total time allotted for:

  • Computer-adaptive test: 3 hours
  • Paper-based test: 3 ¾ hours

Analytical writing section always appears first in the test, followed by Verbal, Quantitative and Unidentified (if applicable) sections in any order. If there is a Research section, it always appears at the end of the test.

Test format for computer-based test:

Section

No. of Question

Time Allotted

Analytical Writing

Issue Task (You have to choose one of the two essay topics)

45 minutes

Analytical Writing

1 Argument Task

30 minutes

Verbal

30

30 minutes

Quantitative

28

30 minutes

Unidentified

Variable

Variable

Research

Variable

Variable

Test format for paper-based test:

Section

No. of Question

Time Allotted

Analytical Writing

Issue Task (You have to choose one of the two essay topics)

45 minutes

Analytical Writing

1 Argument Task

30 minutes

Verbal (2 sections)

38 per section

30 minutes per section

Quantitative (2 sections)

30 per section

30 minutes per section

Unidentified

Variable

30 minutes

Tips and Strategies

Know the sections of the test, the type of questions asked in each section, how long a section is and the time limit for each section.

  • Attempt as many GRE practice tests and GRE sample tests as possible, as they will familiarize with the general level of the questions that are asked in GRE exam and the directions for questions.
  • The instructions for attempting a question in the actual test may slightly differ from those given in your study material, so do skim through them quickly.
  • In the Analytical Writing assessment section, the Issue task allows you to choose one of the two given topics, analyze the issue and write your views on it. But beware, don’t start writing pros and cons of the issue. Since, it is your views that have been asked for, be specific and write only about your viewpoints.
  • The second essay in the Writing Assessment section is the Argument task. It does not offer any choice. You will be given a topic, which you have to critically analyze and evaluate and determine whether it is well-reasoned or not.
  • Generally, each argument in the pool has three to five major logical fallacies or problems that you need to identify and point out. These may include drawing an analogy without taking difference in two cases into account, generalizing from a particular case or assuming one event caused another just because of the order in which they occurred.
  • GRE tries to adjust the test according to the level of the candidate. The first question is of medium level. If you answer it correctly, you will be asked harder questions. The incorrect answer will lead you to easier questions.
  • Hard questions have more points than the easier ones. So, irrespective of the number of questions you attempt, you will fetch more scores if you attempting harder questions. Since the answer to the first question often determines the level of the test you will be attempting, it is very important to give right answer to the very first question of the test.
  • In computer adaptive test, you cannot return to a question or review it later, so check it thoroughly before you submit it.
  • Optimizing time is very important in GRE. You should be aware how much time you can devote on one question. You need to set your pace right. Rushing or sticking to a question for too long will cost you valuable scores.
  • Sometimes, you will find a question similar to what has already been asked in the test or in another section of the test. However, often these questions have substantial or subtle modifications and require different answer. So, pay close attention to the wording of each question before you decide on an answer.
  • Lastly, you may consider canceling the test scores immediately after taking the GRE exam or quit the exam, so that the scores do not get noted in your permanent record. Unfortunately, you have to do it before you can see the test scores and the fees of the exam will not be refunded. This will also mean that you will have to gain register for the exam and pay the fee, to be able to re-take the exam and send the GRE scores to your chosen universities.
  • If you do cancel your GRE scores, this will be noted in your official GRE score report.

It is not allowed to cancel the scores of only one section of the test.

Graduate Management Admissions Test – Important dates

Graduate Management General Test is conducted all the year round from Monday to Friday, twice a day.

However, September to December is the busiest time of the year for the test centres. Hence, students who wish to take the test on a particular date within this period should contact the chosen test centre (preferably, two to three months in advance) for registration.

GRE Subject test is only conducted three times in a year in the months of:

  • October,
  • November, and
  • April.

You will need to contact your chosen test centre to finalize the exact date on which you will take the test

For computer-based GRE test, scores are mailed to you and the recipients you designated between 10 to 15 days.

For paper-based test GRE test, scores are mailed between 4 to 6 weeks.