The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) allows prospective graduate or business school applicants to demonstrate to admissions’ officers that they have the skills to thrive in the programme to which they have chosen to apply. To help future test takers understand what they are dealing with, PrepAdviser has decided to make a GRE overview and answer some of the most frequent questions about the exam.
There are two types of GRE tests – a GRE General Test and GRE Subject Tests, all created and administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS).
The GRE Subject Tests measure your knowledge of six fields of study: Biology, Chemistry, Literature in English, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology. The GRE Subject Tests are delivered only on paper in test centres worldwide three times a year, in September, October, and April. Each Subject Test is intended for students who have an undergraduate major or extensive background in one of the six disciplines.
The GRE General Test is delivered in two formats – computer-delivered and paper-based. The paper-based test can be taken in over 70 countries around the world on up to three test dates per year. In some of these countries, the computer-based version is also available, providing a choice to test takers to choose the format that suits them best. The computer-delivered test is more widely and frequently available.
The GRE General Test (further referred to as GRE), is the world’s most widely accepted admission test for graduate and business school. It measures the skills that are important for success at graduate level: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing. GRE scores are accepted by thousands of graduate schools around the world, including more than 1,300 business schools worldwide which accept GRE scores as an alternative to GMAT scores for admission to MBA, specialised Master’s, and other graduate business programmes.
Here are the answers to some of the most frequent questions prospective test takers have about the exam:
How do I register for the computer-delivered GRE test?
You can register for the computer-delivered test online or by phone. For more details, visit GRE’s website.
How long is the GRE test?
The GRE exam lasts about three hours and forty five minutes, plus short breaks. However, note that this estimate does not consider the time you will need for commuting or checking into the testing centre.
Test takers have 60 minutes to complete the verbal reasoning part of the test and 70 minutes to complete the quantitative section. The analytical writing section has to be completed within 60 minutes.
How are the different sections scored?
The range of scores for the verbal reasoning and quantitative sections of the GRE runs from 130 to 170 possible points. The scoring range for the analytical writing section of the exam runs from 0 to 6 points.
How long are GRE scores valid for?
GRE scores are valid for five years following your test date. For example, scores for a test taken on July 3, 2017, are reportable through July 2, 2022. It takes about five business days to process requests to send GRE scores. If you plan to send scores and the date at which your scores are no longer reportable is approaching, make sure to allow enough time for processing or your scores may not be sent.
How much does the GRE cost?
The GRE exam costs USD 230 in Australia, USD 220.70 in China, and USD 205 for the rest of the world. The rescheduling fee is USD 50. Changing your test centre will also cost you USD 50.
How many times can you retake the test?
You can take the test once every 21 days. However, you can sit for the test up to five times within a continuous 12-month period (365 days). This rule applies even if you cancel your scores on a test taken previously.
The GRE is divided into three parts: the Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Analytical Writing sections. There is also an additional unidentified/unscored section. The Analytical Writing section will always be first. The Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and the unidentified/unscored sections may appear in any order. Test takers are therefore advised to treat each section as if it influences their score. Sometimes the test makers replace the unscored section with an identified research section that is not scored. The research section always appears at the end of the test.
The GRE allows test takers to skip questions within a section, go back and change answers, and to choose which questions within a section they want to answer first.
Here’s a look at the type of content covered in the three main test sections.
The Analytical Writing section measures the ability to articulate complex ideas clearly and effectively, support ideas with relevant reasons and examples, examine claims and accompanying evidence, and sustain a well-focused, coherent discussion. This section actually has two parts: the Issue essay and the Argument essay. Test takers have 30 minutes for each essay. Both essays require students to write a strong and convincing thesis statement that they must defend.
For detailed information on the Analytical Writing section, including sample questions with explanations, tips and more, click here.
Check out: How the GRE Became a GMAT Alternative
The Verbal Reasoning section assesses the ability to analyse and evaluate written material and synthesise information obtained from it, analyse relationships among component parts of sentences and recognise relationships among words and concepts. About half of the section requires you to read passages and answer questions on those passages. The other half asks you to read, interpret, and complete existing sentences, groups of sentences or paragraphs.
For detailed information on the Verbal Reasoning section, including sample questions with explanations, tips and more, click here.
The Quantitative Reasoning section assesses basic mathematical skills, understanding of elementary mathematical concepts, and the ability to reason quantitatively and to model and solve problems with quantitative methods. It is true that the test faces students with number properties and standard geometric figures, but at a deeper level it really tests the way they solve problems and reason with numbers.
For detailed information on the Quantitative Reasoning section, including sample questions with explanations, tips and more, click here.
Depending on your intended field of study at graduate or business school you should select either the GRE General Test or a Subject Test. In case you are planning to pursue an MBA or another business and management programme, research which test – GRE General Test or the GMAT will be a better option for you.
Check out: GRE or GMAT to Take for B-school
Whichever test you decide to take, plan enough time for preparation, advises Iliana Bobova, Head of Admissions Consulting at Advent Group. Test preparation builds your skills for success during your Master’s degree studies and a high test score always makes a difference in application for admission and scholarships.