GRE

The Graduate Record Examination

Produced by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardized test used to gauge a person's ability to succeed in graduate school. The test is similar in format to the SAT, in that it is sectioned into verbal, quantitative and analytical reasoning questions.

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The GRE is a CAT

The GRE is a computer adaptive test (CAT), which means questions appear on a computer screen. You may need to alter your GRE test prep, because there are some important restrictions:

  • You're given only one question at a time (one per screen)
  • The questions are generated, in part, based on the responses you give (how well you answer previous questions)
  • The computer attempts to zero in on the peak of your abilities by asking questions of varying difficulty

In some areas of the world where the CAT is not available, a paper based GRE can be administered.

Sections

There are three sections to the GRE: the analytical writing section, the verbal reasoning section and the quantitative reasoning section.

The Analytical Writing Section

The writing section tests your ability to understand and critique an argument, to create and support an argument and to present an argument in a well-reasoned, consistent and logical manner.

The Verbal Reasoning Section

The verbal section tests your ability to comprehend and assimilate difficult linguistic material and to organize information.

The Quantitative Reasoning Section

This part of the GRE tests understanding of the basic concepts of mathematics, including algebra and geometry, as well as data analysis.

Scoring

The three sections of the test may be supplemented by an experimental section (although it won't be identified as such) that would consist of questions being tried out for use in future versions of the GRE. These questions won't be counted against your score.

The total time allotted for the GRE is three hours, and directions at the beginning of each section of the CAT will specify the total number of questions for that section. The schedule for a standard computer-based GRE will look as follows:

Section Number of Questions Time
Analytical Writing / Issue Task Choose one of two 45 minutes
Analytical Writing / Argument Task One essay question 30 minutes
Verbal 30 30 minutes
Quantitative 28 45 minutes
Pretest Varies Varies Varies
Research Varies (may not be included) Varies

Subject Tests

In addition to the general test, you may be required to write a subject specific test. There are many GRE subject tests, including English, math, physics, chemistry, psychology, computer science and many other specific fields. The admission requirements of the school you wish to apply for will dictate whether or not you need to take a subject test.

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