GRE: Your Key To Studying Abroad. What, When, and How?

GRE: Your Key To Studying Abroad. What, When, and How?

The Graduate Record Examination, known commonly by the acronym GRE, is a standardized examination. The test score is a requirement for admission to several graduate schools in the US and Canada.

The Graduate Record Examination has been around since 1936, and was established by the Carnegie Foundation. At present, the test is owned by the Educational Testing Service.

When is the Graduate Record Examination test?

You can either take the test on the computer, or you can find a facility that offers a paper test.

If you want to take it from home, the computer-based test is available 24×7 for anyone who has a graduate degree, or has appeared in a graduate exam.

The computer test is also available at various centers most days of the year.

The paper test happens twice every year in February and November.

Who needs to take the GRE?

The Graduate Record Examination is required for admission in most postgraduate courses, apart from medicine and law. This means students of humanities, science, and arts streams have to appear for the GRE for admission to the university of their choice.

Medical students need to take the MCAT, and law students the LSAT.

Management students usually appear for the GMAT exam, but they might appear for GRE too. It all depends on the school they are applying to and the admission rules thereof.

What is the cost?

The cost of the Graduate Record Examination test is $205, except in five countries– India, China, Australia, Turkey, and Nigeria. Students from these countries have to pay slightly more. The difference is not much and amounts to $8 for India and $50 for Turkey (at current exchange rates).

Format of Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

The Graduate Record Examination format consists of three major sections:

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Analytical Writing

Let’s look at each of these sections in a little more detail.

  1. Verbal Reasoning

It has two parts, and each has 20 questions. For each of them, they give the student 30 minutes.

The lowest and highest possible score for the verbal reasoning section is 130 and 170.

The type of questions include:

  • Text Completion: Students are required to fill in the blank in sentences with the appropriate word.
  • Sentence Equivalence: In this type, the student has to use a pair of words that are synonymous to fill in a blank. That means when used, either will deliver approximately the same meaning.
  • Reading Comprehension: the student would be given both short and long passages and asked to answer questions after reading.

Overall, this section aims to test your grasp of the English language, extent of vocabulary, and ability to understand complex passages.

Preparation has to begin early and the aspiring candidate has to practice rigorously to score well. It goes without saying that mastery over a language is a skill that is acquired over time, and cannot be learned in a matter of a few months.

  1. Quantitative Reasoning

The quantitative section, commonly known as quant, is also tested on a 130-170 scale. The sections are divided into three parts. Each section has a time limit of 35 minutes.

  • Quantitative Comparison: The student would be given two quantities A and B (usually expressed through algebra), and decide if one is more than the other, if they are equal, or if the given information is insufficient to make a decision.

For example, n is an integer > 0, AND

A = (1 ÷ n) + n and B = 3


i. A > B

ii. B > A

iii. A = B

iv. The relationship cannot be determined without further information

  • Problem Solving: These are commonly from topics including permutation, combination, ratio, time and distance, arithmetic mean and central tendencies, and measurement of solids.

Such as: A cylindrical block of metal weighs 16 pounds. How much will another cylinder of the same metal weigh if its height is half as long?

The questions test the student’s ability to apply commonly known mathematical rules to solve everyday problems.

  • Data Interpretation: The student would be provided bar graphs, histograms, pie charts, and plots and asked to analyze the data. Usually, one pictorial chart yields multiple questions.

If one has a strong background in high school math, there is absolutely nothing to fear in this section.

Moreover, the Graduate Record Examination does not test the trickier bits of high school math like trigonometry and calculus. The questions are based on an understanding of basic geometry, solids, algebra, and number sense.

Any student who is apprehensive of math can train in specific topics and learn the strategies of scoring well in the quant section.

  1. Analytical Writing

This section consists of two essays. The first is for analyzing an issue, and the second is to analyze an argument. Each is a 30-minute task. The score is on a scale of 0-6, in half-point increments.

These have to be completed using a word processor provided by ETS.

What is the total time for the Graduate Record Examination?

The total time is three hours and 45 minutes.

GRE Unscored Section

GRE comprises an unscored section in the verbal or quant part of the test.

These are essentially dummy questions that do not carry any marks. Their purpose is to determine the level of difficulty of potential questions for upcoming test takers.

However, there is no way for a student to know which the unscored or experimental questions are, and they have to attempt all of them.

There is no negative marking in GRE, which is when they subtract no marks from aggregate for wrong answers.

What score is enough?

That depends on the university to which you are applying.

From 2015 to 2018, about 2 million candidates have taken the test.

  • For the verbal section, the average score is 150.24.
  • For the quantitative section, the average is 153.07.
  • For the analytical writing section, the average is 3.55.

It is safe to say that the average test score hovers at about 150.

What are the strategies for scoring well?

  • If you are stuck on a question, move on. Budget your time well and keep track of it with a stopwatch.
  • Those who are good in STEM might find quant easier and those from arts, while humanities might find the verbal section less scary. That being said, you will have to prepare for both adequately. There are plenty of courses online that help you.
  • Reading Comprehension and Data Interpretation can prove to be difficult. Pay attention to these from the outset of your test preparation.
  • It is necessary to have a vast vocabulary. Make a list of 100 of the most common words in English, and Google their synonyms. You need not memorize them, just paste them into a Google Document and glance through them now and then.

In quant, every answer needs a strategy instead of a formula. You must adopt shortcut thinking if you wish to succeed.

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