GRE Examination

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

The GRE Examination is an international standardized examination, which is required for admission to graduate schools in the United States/Canada and also some European, Asian, and Australian Universities. The GRE exam is conducted and administered by Education Testing Services (ETS). GRE is conducted throughout the year and is mostly administered in most countries as an online examination. A candidate can take the exam a maximum of five times in a period of 12 months, the test is attended by candidates from all over the world.  There are two types of GRE Examination, the GRE General Examination, and GRE Subject Tests. We will discuss both the tests in this article. Also, in this article, we will discuss the GRE exam qualification, application, syllabus, pattern, result, etc. to help you understand this examination better.

What is the GRE exam? Am I eligible for it? How to register for it?

These questions often revolve around the minds of aspiring candidates and for students who want to study abroad, this exam is the first step towards their goals especially if they are looking for Master of Science (MS), Masters in Management (MIM), Master of Engineering Management (MEM), Master of Science in Engineering Management (MSEM), Master in Information System Management (MIS) or the Master of Project Management (MPM). Around 6 lakh students from all over the world appear for this exam. Graduate Record Examination or GRE is conducted mainly for admission to the post-graduation program and it is considered to be the world’s largest entrance examination among the internationally accepted examinations. GRE Score is considered to be one of the admission criteria by most of the prestigious universities and for a student who aspires to get into these top universities GRE Examination score is a mandatory requirement.  GRE is not recognized by more than 1000 institutes world-wide, including some universities in India like the IIMs and the IITs for their Ph.D. and  Fellow Program in Management (FPM).

GRE Examination at a Glance

  • GRE is regulated by the Educational Testing Services (ETS)
  • The GRE General Test is for candidates seeking admission to Master’s programs in various fields in US universities and other countries around the world.
  • It is available in more than 1000 centers in more than 160 countries in both online and offline modes.
  • GRE examination can be taken once every 21 days and 5 in a period of a year.

GRE | Types of Exam

GRE examination is conducted in two types i.e. GRE General Test & GRE Subject Test.

  • GRE General Test: This test can be given by a candidate who has done graduation in any stream, this test is taken mostly by Engineering students for admission to MS Programs and students seeking admission other humanities and sciences programs. In this, the student’s Verbal Reasoning, Analytical and Critical Writing, Quantitative Reasoning Skills are examined.
  • GRE Subject Test: In this test, the student’s understanding of a particular subject is tested. This test is conducted three times a year and is taken only in a paper-based format. This test is taken for a total of six subjects viz. Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Psychology,  and Literature

GRE  | Structure of the Test

This exam is conducted in two ways. The first way is the written and the second is the computer i.e. an online exam. In centers where there is no computer access, a written test is conducted. The time duration of this test is 3 hours 45 minutes and there are six sections in the examination. There are no negative marks in the section, but the sections of the examinations are adaptable across the section. It is a computer-based test and not a computer adaptable test within each section. The structure of the computer-based test is as follows.

SectionQuestionsTimePosition
Analytical WritingAnalyze an Issue (1)
30 minutes per task
First / Second Section
Analytical WritingAnalyze an Argument (1)
30 minutes per task
First / Second Section
Verbal Reasoning
(2 Sections)
20 questions per section
30 minutes per section
anywhere in between
Verbal Reasoning
(2 Sections)
20 questions per section35 minutes per section
anywhere in between
Unscored Section¹
Research Section²
Last Section

1 This section does not count towards your score. It is a section that can appear any time after AWA Section and cannot be identified as an unscored section.

2 This is a research section that appears at the end of the test. This too is an unscored section.

Total marks are for 340, scores scale from 260 to 340. Each section is 170 marks.

GRE  | Scoring

GRE Examination is scored out of 340. The scores scale from 260-34 with each section maximum score being 170 marks. The Analytical Writing Section is scored separately out of 6, in increments of 0.5 marks. An average score in GRE would be around 310 and the student would be able to see the score of the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning section right after the examination, but the final scorecard with the analytical writing scores will be available only within 21 days of writing the examination. The GRE score is valid for 5 years.

GRE | How to Register?

There are three ways to get yourself registered for this exam:

  • Online registration is done by visiting the ETS website, where the aspiring candidate has to create an account and fill up the personal details on that website which does not take more than ten minutes. Once you are finished with filling the details then you can start your registration process and in the end, you will be led to the last step that is a payment, where you can pay the fees by your credit or debit card.
  • Registration via Mail can be done by downloading the registration form and mailing it along with the payment to ETS-GRE, PO Box 6000, Princeton, NJ 08541, USA( when you are paying by debit or credit card ) and ETS-GRE, Box 382013, Pittsburgh, PA 15251-8013, USA( when paying by money order), it should be known that ETS may at least take 3 months to complete this process.
  • Registering via Phone can be done by making a call at 91-124-4147700. Payment in this way is done through American Express, MasterCard, or E-checks that should be drawn against US bank accounts.

GRE | Examination Fees

The GRE General Test fees amount to USD $205, while the fee for the subject test is USD $150. In addition, in the case of late registration, there will be an additional charge of USD $25. At the time of registration, a candidate has to select a preferred date from the slots available and schedule their exam. The candidates can request a change of slot later for a fee of USD $50 and reschedule the examination to another available slot.

GRE | Eligibility

To give this test in India, you have to prove your identity, and for this purpose, you must have a valid passport. Apart from this, you cannot use any other document like date of birth, driving license, etc. as an identity. A candidate should be of a minimum 18 of age and there is no upper age limit for writing the GRE test but the university for which a candidate is applying may have their age restrictions or other conditions.

GRE | Test Dates

There is no fixed date for giving the GRE Examination, you can give this exam at any time of the year. Most of the students write the examination in India during the months of July through December as the application forms in most colleges open during the months of September to January. If a student is planning to write the GRE during this time, then he needs to plan his dates well in advance.

GRE | Syllabus for General Test

Analytical Writing: In this section, a candidate’s ability to evaluate complex ideas and support those with relevant arguments and evidence and how well he comes up with a logical discussion in support of his arguments are assessed. It also tests how good is written communication, which means there is an emphasis on grammar, vocabulary, and sentence formations.

Verbal Reasoning:  This section assesses the candidate’s ability to analyze and draw interpretations and inferences from the given passages and recognize the author’s presumptions and notions. This section also includes vocabulary, usage, and contextual vocabulary questions. 

Quantitative Reasoning: This section assesses the candidate’s ability to understand the information presented in the quantitative form and elucidate quantitative facts and data and find solutions to the given mathematical problems using mathematical formulas and application of basic mathematical conception and skilfulness. There are primarily four types of questions in this section viz. Multiple Choice Questions, Quantitative Comparison Questions, Fill in the Blanks Questions and Data Interpretation Question.

Following is the list of topics that come under the section of Quantitative reasoning: Ratio and Proportion, Simple and Compound interest, Profit and Loss, Speed, Distance and Time, Quadratic Equations, Statistics, Linear Equations, Probability, Sets Theory, Powers and Roots, Triangles, Quadrilaterals, Polygon, Coordinate geometry, Circles, Order of operations, Number properties, Percentage, Pipe & cisterns, work & time, Lines and Angles, Volume & surface area, Permutation & Combination

GRE | Syllabus for the Subject Test

Following subjects are included in the syllabus of GRE Subject test

Biology

The test comprises of 190 five-choice questions of Biology & following are the topics

  • Cellular and Molecular Biology
  • Organismal Biology
  • Ecology and Evolution

 Chemistry

The test comprises of 130 multiple choice questions and is associated with the four fields of chemistry that are divided into the following topics

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Physical Chemistry

Literature in English

The test of literature covers areas from poetry and plays, history of language and literature, essays and biographies, novels and short stories, literacy theories, and questions of criticisms, so the following are the topics that a test taker should cover to prepare for the literature part.

  • Literary Analysis
  • Cultural and Historical Contexts
  • Identification
  • History and Theory of Literary Criticism

Physics

The test comprises 100 five-choice questions and some of them are presented as a diagram, graphs, and experimental data and description of physical situations.

  • Electromagnetism
  • Classical Mechanics
  • Quantum Mechanics
  • Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
  • Atomic Physics
  • Special Relativity
  • Optics and Wave Phenomena
  • Specialized Topics
  • Laboratory Methods

Mathematics

This test evaluates your mathematical knowledge of how much are you able to solve arithmetic, algebra, geometry, geometric, and statistics questions. The test comprises of 66 multiple – choice questions from the topics of mathematics that is commonly taught at the undergraduate level such as

  • Algebra
  • Calculus
  • Additional Topics
  • Arithmetic

Psychology

The test comprises 205 multiple-choice questions. There will be given five choices as the answer and the test taker has to choose the most suitable option. The following topics should be referred to for the preparation of Psychology.

  • Biological
  • Cognitive
  • Developmental
  • Social
  • Clinical
  • Measurement/Methodology/Other

GRE cut-offs for the top universities are as follows 

  • Harvard University: GRE Quant (157-161); GRE Verbal (150-154)
  • Stanford University: GRE Quant (162-166); GRE Verbal (152-156)
  • MIT: GRE Quant (162-166); GRE Verbal (152-156)
  • UC Berkeley: GRE Quant (162-166); GRE Verbal (152-156)
  • Columbia University: GRE Quant (157-161); GRE Verbal (150-154)
  • UCLA: GRE Quant (157-161); GRE Verbal (150-154)

GRE | Preparation Tips

  • Choose the right study material: An important thing is to choose the right study material for the preparation of any subject. If you are giving this test for the first time, then start with the basic books to revise your concepts. The best material in the market is the GRE Official Guide. The Official Guide is published by ETS and it has questions from the previous exams. Apart from the Official Guide, there is also a Verbal and Quants Guide by ETS available in the market which you can purchase after you have completed the Official Guide.
  • Choose your test date according to your preparation: Do not be in a hurry to give GRE. First, you should estimate the time required by you to prepare for the exam, and accordingly, select and schedule the date of the test.  Normally a student would take about 4 months to prepare for the exam including practice mocks.
  • Mock Test or Practice Test: Before you start your GRE preparation, it would be a good idea to take a test from ETS.org. The test will give you a good understanding of the test pattern and the structure of the examination. Once you complete the fundamental books, it will be a good idea to do at least 6-8 mocks before you go for the final examination. The mocks will help you fill your gaps and most mocks in the market would give you a good understanding of the score levels you can achieve in the final test.

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