Graduate Record Examinations® (GRE®)
As the most widely accepted admissions test for graduate and business school programs, GRE® revised General Test scores are used for admissions decisions for all types of master’s, MBA, specialized master’s in business, and doctoral programs as well as for awarding fellowships. The test measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing skills. These skills closely align with the types of skills that are required for success in today’s demanding graduate and business school programs. The test is only administered at ETS authorized test centers worldwide. The GRE® Subject Tests measure undergraduate achievement in specific fields of study. The paper-delivered Subject Tests are approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes in length. GRE test scores are valid for 5 years.
The overall testing time for the computer-based GRE General Test is about three hours and 45 minutes, plus short breaks. There are six sections on the GRE:
- One Analytical Writing Section: Includes two separately timed tasks; 30 minutes per task
- Two Verbal Reasoning Sections: 30 minutes per section
- Two Quantitative Reasoning Sections: 35 minutes per section
- One Unidentified, Unscored Section: An unidentified section, typically a Verbal Reasoning or Quantitative Reasoning section, that does not count toward a score may be included and may appear in any order after the Analytical Writing section.
- Research: An identified research section may be included in place of the unscored section. The research section will always appear at the end of the test. Questions in this section are included for the purpose of ETS research and will not count toward a score.
- Note: The Analytical Writing section will always be first, while the other five sections may appear in any order.
What specifically does the GRE General Test?
On the verbal side, the GRE tests vocabulary, primarily in context, and a whole lot of reading comprehension. The three distinct subject areas on the verbal portion are Text Completion, Sentence Equivalence, and Reading Comprehension.
On the math side, the GRE tests basic math concepts up through Geometry I. The most commonly tested topics include basic algebra, geometry, averages, ratios, number properties, exponents and square roots, and numeric problem solving.
There are also two essays. One tests your ability to formulate a convincing argument based upon a topic you select from two choices. The other will give you the argument and you have to evaluate it.
Of course, ETS likes to claim that the GRE tests skills that you will need to be successful in graduate school, but really all it tests is your ability to take the GRE. Fortunately, that can be learned and mastered.
How is the GRE General Test Scored?
Test-takers will get three separate scores, one for the Quantitative (the math), one for the Verbal, and one for the Analytic (the essays). Math and Verbal scores will range between 130 and 170 in one point increments. Analytic scores range between 0 and 6 in half point increments.
The most unique feature of the Revised General Test is that it is adaptive by section. Every test-taker will see at least two math sections and two verbal sections. The difficulty level of the second section of each subject will be determined by the test-takers performance on the first section. If you get lots of questions right on the first section, you will get a harder second section, but access to higher scores. If you do poorly on the first section, you will get an easier second section and your scoring potential will be capped at a lower range.
Students will also likely see an additional math or verbal section, but it will not count. This is the experimental section. If you see three math sections, you will know that your experimental section was math, but it is impossible to tell which of the math sections counted and which did not.
Essays will be read by one human and one computer. Each will place a score on the 1-6 point scale. Final scores for both readers and both essays will be averaged and quarter points will be rounded up. A student who skips the essays or writes an essay on a different topic other than the ones that have been presented, will receive a score of 0.
Scoring is based on how you perform on each section of the GRE: Verbal 130-170 (1-point increments); Quantitative 130-170 (1-point increments); Analytical Writing Assessment (0 to 6 points).
Your GRE score remains valid for five years. If you have taken the GRE several times, ETS will report all GRE scores from the past five years.
The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a 3hr 45min., multiple–choice, multi-stage test required by most graduate schools. It’s run by the Educational Testing Service, the same people who run the SAT.
Schools differ in how they use your GRE score. Some consider it very important, while others view it as a formality. We recommend asking your prospective programs—most will be quite willing to tell you what part the test plays in their admissions decisions.
What’s the breakdown of the GRE?
Students will see six sections on every test. The first section contains two essays, one 30 minute issue essay and one 30 minute argument essay. The next five sections will cover Verbal Ability (Reading Comprehension, Text Completion, and Sentence Equivalence are the question types) and Quantitative Ability (Problem Solving, Quantitative Comparison, and Numeric Entry are the question types). All test-takers will see two math sections and two verbal sections. Each section has 20 questions. Math sections are 35 minutes, while verbal sections are 30 minutes. The sections could come in any order.
Test-takers will also see a fifth section that may be either math or verbal. This is the Experimental section and it will not count. It will look just like the other sections and could come in any order so it is impossible to tell which section counts and which one does not. This is where ETS uses test-takers as unpaid guinea pigs to test out new questions that they will later inflict on future test-takers. Do not let the way you perform on one section affect your performance on another section. If you think you did poorly on one section, it may not have counted. On the other hand, don’t blow off a section because you think it is the experimental because there is no way to tell.
How is the GRE scored?
The GRE is a multi-stage test. The computer will use your performance on each section to determine the difficulty of the section you will be given next. You will receive separate Verbal and Quantitative Scores: Verbal 130-170 (1-point increments); Quantitative 130-170 (1-point increments). The Analytical Writing section is listed separately, and is scored on a scale of 0 to 6, in half–point increments.
What are the GRE Subject Tests?
The GRE Subject Tests are similar to SAT IIs in that they test your knowledge of a particular subject like chemistry or literature. Not every school requires a GRE subject test, but many of the most competitive programs do. ETS offers the tests three times a year –they are not part of the standard GRE.
What are the differences between the GMAT and GRE?
A comparison between the GRE and GMAT test
Which schools accept the GRE?
Our goal is to help you to get into one of your top-choice business schools. We recommend you research the schools you’re interested in and find out if they also accept the GRE. Click here to see the list of the 250+ schools that currently accept both the GRE and the GMAT.
Which test is right for me?
The best way to determine whether the GMAT or GRE is better suited to your abilities is to get your feet wet with a practice test for each exam. Getting into business school is competitive and you don’t want to take an actual GRE or GMAT sight unseen.