Introduction to GRE

In this introduction to the GRE guide, we will give you an overview of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Who manages the GRE General Test?

GRE General is a standardized test that is a mandatory requirement for admission for the majority of graduate schools around the world especially in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe. It is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS).

Types of GRE:

 There are two types of GRE Tests:

  • GRE General
  • GRE Subject

All graduate schools accept GRE General (with few exceptions). However, in certain programs, GRE Subject is also a requirement. There are eight fields that sometimes require GRE Subject too. For further details about GRE Subject please click here.

Who should take the GRE Test?

Applicants pursuing a master’s degree or MBA or doctoral degree (Ph.D.), has to take the GRE General Test. Similarly, as applicants come from varying educational and cultural backgrounds, the GRE General Test provides schools with a common measure for comparing candidates’ academic abilities in addition to Grade Point Average (GPA).  In some schools or programs, if GRE General is not required, students with a good GPA will increase their chances of admissions and scholarships.

GRE Structure and Pattern: 

GRE tests are taken in both computer and paper-based formats. In the majority of countries, we can only take computer-based GRE.

The testing time for the computer-based GRE General Test is about 3 hours and 45 minutes. There are six sections with a 10-minute break following the third section.

The GRE General Test is a multistage test. This format allows the student to move back and forth between questions that are a part of the same section, and the testing software allows the student to “mark” questions within each section so that they can be reviewed later if time permits.

GRE Sections:

Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)

This section consists of two different essays “Issue” and “Argument”. Students will have essays on a computer. It does not contain a spell-checker or any other advanced word editing features.

Issue Essay:

It tests the student’s ability to convince the examiner to agree to his/her point of view.  Issue topics are usually selected from a pool of questions, which are published on the ETS website.

Argument Essay:

The students are given an argument (i.e. a series of facts and considerations leading to a conclusion), and they are asked to write an essay to criticize the given argument. Moreover, students are required to carefully understand the argument’s logic and then make suggestions about how the logic of the argument can be improved.  Basically, students are required to focus on the logical flaws of the argument and not give their own viewpoints on the subject.

Quantitative Section

Assesses a student’s basic high school level mathematics and measures basic concepts of arithmetic, algebra, statistics, geometry, data analysis, problem-solving, and critical thinking abilities. The break-up of each quantitative section is as follows:

It also includes numeric entry items, which require the students to fill in the blanks and answer multiple-choice questions.
A basic on-screen calculator is also available.

Verbal Section

The verbal sections assess a student’s reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and vocabulary usage. Therefore, every section consists of around six text completion, four-sentence equivalence, and ten reading comprehension & critical reading questions.

Experimental Section:

The experimental section (verbal or quantitative) consists of new question types that ETS is experimenting with for future use. However, the experimental section does not count in the main score. Therefore, students have no definite way of knowing which section is experimental, it is advisable for students to give their best in every section.

GRE Scores:

GRE report will reflect three scores:

Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning have 1-point increments and AWA has half-point increments. Moreover, if you score all the questions incorrectly, then you would get 260 scores in total out of 240. In other words, 130 is zero scores. On the other hand, the total score of the Verbal and Quantitative sections is 340. This means, 170 is a perfect score in each verbal and quant section.

Test Dates:

You can take the GRE Test (computer-based) year-round at Prometric testing centers. In addition, students can take the GRE test once every 21 days. Also, they can only take up to five times within a 12-month period. Also, this applies even if a student has canceled his scores on a previously taken test. However, students can register for their tests on a specific test date by going to the ETS website.


To register for GRE, students have to create a ‘My GRE Account. Moreover, there are four ways to register for the GRE general test- Online, Phone, Mail, and Fax registration.

Official Report:

After the actual exam, you can access the official report on your ETS account after approximately 10 working days.

How do I send scores to my university?

Your test fee entitles you to send scores to as many as four graduate institutions or fellowship sponsors for FREE.
On the test day, you can send scores to your respective universities.

Validity & Fee:

GRE scores are valid for five years and the fee is US $205/-.

Next Article: Read GRE Step by Step Guide


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