GRE, the Graduate Record Examination, is a standardized examination for admission requirements used by several North American colleges and universities. Owned and operated by the world's largest private non-profit education assessment and testing organization, the Educational Testing Service, the first test was conducted in 1936. It has since become a vital component of the admissions processes in graduate schools across the USA and Canada.
GRE scores were once critical parameters for admission into Ph.D. programs in nearly every major & minor university across the USA and Canada. That essentiality has fallen substantially since the new decade as many universities are dropping GRE application requirements for graduate and post-doctorate programs. Nevertheless, complete overhauls are still a long way off, and GRE scores still hold substantial relevance in grad & post-grad admissions processes in both the USA & Canada.
With that in mind, here is a simple, informative guide on the GRE General Test that digs into every aspect of the test in precise detail.
As mentioned, US and Canadian colleges and universities use the Graduate Record Examination to screen potential candidates for their graduate & post-graduate programs. There are two distinct test categories: the GRE General Test and the GRE Subject Test.
The general test comprises three sections – analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning.
The GRE General Test assesses critical cognitive abilities necessary to stay ahead of the pack in competitive graduate school programs. It tests critical thinking, logical reasoning, analytical skills, and other higher-order mental abilities.
Currently paper-based, ETS will rejig the format entirely, with the subject tests becoming computer-based entirely from September 2023.
We will focus specifically on the GRE General Test in this article.
The difficulty level of the questions in the verbal reasoning & quantitative reasoning segments will adapt as per your performance in the preceding sections. If you do very well in the first quantitative reasoning section, the questions in the second section will be more difficult. The same goes for the verbal reasoning section.
Scores consider the number of questions answered as well as the level of difficulty of the questions answered. Let’s take a closer look at each of the sections.
The analytical writing section assesses critical writing and analytical abilities. It evaluates an examinee's ability to understand complex ideas, uncover underpinning concepts & logic, and use them to develop robust arguments. The tasks require candidates to comprehend presented information, craft logical arguments, and confidently carry out coherent discussions.
You will have to work on a 30-minute “Analyse an Issue” task and a 30-minute “Analyse an Argument” task.
You will have to understand & analyze the issue minutely. Look into every nuance and complexity. Think objectively, draw connections, and investigate the issue from all angles. Develop clear & logical arguments, explain with proper reasoning, and provide examples supporting your argument & views.
As you can see, the two analytical writing tasks are complementary. One asks you to develop your argument, while the other asks you to dissect someone else's argument.
This section evaluates your ability to understand and synthesize information from any written material. You will need to develop clear ideas about the subject of the material, understand how they have been represented through the narrative presented, and recognize underlying words, concepts, and their relationships.
There will be three kinds of questions in the verbal reasoning segment à
Reading Comprehension: These questions test your ability to read and comprehend prose. It will look into varied abilities such as:
Text Completion: This section will test your ability to form coherent, meaningful sentences and content. Based on the available information, you will have to fill in the blanks with the most sensible words or phrases.
You will be given options to choose from for filling in the blanks. You score for filling in all the blanks correctly. The best approach is to understand the sentence/passage minutely and think up your own words for filing in. Expand your vocabulary to score better in these sections.
Sentence Equivalence: This section is somewhat similar to the text completion section. You must complete sentences by filling in the blanks from the options given. You will have to select two of the most suitable words from the given options as per the topic & context of the given sentence.
The GRE Quantitative Reasoning section checks your numeracy & mathematical skills, knowledge and understanding of rudimentary mathematical concepts, and quantitative abilities. You will encounter questions on :
Arithmetic sub-topics include integers, prime numbers, roots, exponents, ratios, factorization, divisibility, and absolute value.
Algebra sub-topics such as factoring & simplifying expressions, equations & inequalities, functions, solutions of linear & quadratic equations, simultaneous equations & inequalities, word problems in algebra, graphs, slopes, and coordinate geometry, etc.
Geometry sub-topics include parallel & perpendicular lines, circles, triangles, quadrilaterals & polygons, sums on area, perimeter, & volume, Pythagoras theorem, angle measurement, etc.
Data analysis sub-topics including descriptive statistics (mean, median, mode, quartile & interquartile range, etc.), data visualization (line graphs, bar graphs, bar graphs, box plots, scatter plots, frequency distributions, etc.), probability, random variables & types of probability distributions, permutations & combinations, etc.
Expect math problems of high school level of difficulty.
You do not need to stress too much about the unidentified research questions in GRE. However, you also cannot skip them as they are not marked. The research section/question can appear in any segment after the analytical writing segment.
These sections are unmarked and not scored since ETS uses examinee performance in these questions to gauge & modulate question difficulty for future tests.
Though GRE is primarily computer-based, you can take a paper-based examination if computers or the Internet are not feasible in your location. There are minor differences between the computerized and paper-based versions.
Now, it is time we looked at the examination's scoring system.
The GRE General Test scoring system takes an adaptive approach. The verbal and quantitative reasoning segments are measured differently than the analytical writing segments.
In the computer-based test, these sections are adaptive to one’s performance. The computer system modulates the second operational section based on the performance of the first section. However, every question in a particular section contributes equally to the final score of both the verbal and quantitative reasoning segments.
For both reasoning segments/measures, a raw score is generated. Then this score is scaled using a statistical method called equating. Equating scales & regulates the score and compensates for any variations in difficulty in different test versions as well as due to section-level variations. The scaled score reflects the actual level of performance regardless of any variations. The score range in this section is between 130 and 170, with one-point increments.
If the human and e-rater engine scores match closely, the average of the two scores becomes the final score. The same procedure is followed for the other essay as well.
The final scores of the two essays are averaged once again and then rounded off on a 0 to 6 score scale. This scaled point reflects the writer’s critical thinking & analytical writing.
The scaled score and score level are calculated from the test-takers scores between July 1st, 2019, and June 30th, 2022. The measure/segment-specific columns show the percentage of test takers who scored lower than the given score scale.
If you are undecided about a specific GRE score goal, get started by determining the requirements of the graduate programs you are applying for. Find out the average score of admitted applicants in two to three years. This will give you a clear idea about what score to target in each measure.
The following scores are reported for the GRE General Test.
If you do not answer any questions in a particular measure, you will receive an NS (No Score) label.
You can view unofficial scores for the verbal and quantitative sections right after you finish. Official scores will be available in your ETS account and sent to your shortlisted recipient institutions within 10 to 15 days. Scores for a test are reportable for five years after the test date.
There’s also ETS’ ScoreSelect option through which you can decide which scores to send to an institution. You can send the most recent, all, or any score if you have taken multiple tests.
Scoring in the higher percentiles becomes much easier with the right study materials. Below is a list of some awesome study materials to take your GRE preparations to the next level.
Below is a list of some great GRE study materials. Filled with clear exam instructions, preparation strategies, and multiple practice test sets, try to get your hands on at least one of these.
The Official Guide to the GRE General Test, Third Edition
The Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions, Volume 1, Second Edition
The Official GRE Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions, Volume 1, Second Edition
Prepare diligently with one or more of the above books, and you will be ready to answer any questions of any difficulty.
But the entire test-taking process begins with registering with ETS.
Once your registration's done and you have prepared as best, prepare for the test day.
Go through the GRE information Bulletin 2023 for elaborate instructions.
As we wrap up this guide, here are some handy time and stress management tips from the experts of AbroAdvice.com.
And that’s a wrap for this write-up. I hope it acts as a handy and informative guide for everyone. Early preparation, proper planning, and focused, routine practising are the keys to scoring top grades on GRE.
Work hard, manage time well during studying & practicing, and connect with AbroAdvice.com to avail of personalized assistance. AbroAdvice offers dedicated GRE preparation packages, where you get expert guidance, access to top-tier study materials, multiple mock tests, and superb preparation & exam tips, tricks, & strategies.
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GRE is a standardized test used by many North American colleges & universities as a crucial aspect of their admissions processes. The GRE General Test gives the admissions committee a clear idea about an applicant's critical thinking, reasoning, analytical, comprehension, reading, and writing skills.
The GRE General Test has three measures or segments: analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning. The reasoning sections are subdivided into two sections each.
The verbal and quantitative reasoning segments are scored on a 130-170 scale. The analytical writing is scored on a 0-6 scale.
Plan and start preparing early. Practice and solve as many timed mock tests as possible to boost performance and time management.
Go to the ETS website and create an account. Once you do, you can register for an exam session. Follow the instructions to complete the registration process successfully.
Check out the Test-Day procedures section in this article.
GRE scores are valid for five consecutive years.
Yes. Once you finish the test, you can report or cancel the test scores. Choose wisely.
Yes. You can retake the GRE five times a year and once every 21 days.
The GRE test scores have become integral to the admissions processes of colleges and universities across the USA and Canada. The test scores reflect applicants' cognitive, aptitude, and academic preparedness & skills.
AbroAdvice.com provided excellent GRE preparation guidance. Their resources and tips were invaluable. Highly recommend!