Understanding the GRE General Test and How to do your best


5 mins read
Rahul Singha
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Jul 29, 2022 18:09 IST

What is the GRE test?: The GRE General Test is the most commonly required admissions test for graduate and business schools. It is one of the tests that Educational Testing Service, a U.S.-based non-profit educational assessment and research organization, develops and administers. It is considered a global gold standard in standardized testing. Featuring question types that closely reflect the kind of thinking you'll do in today's demanding graduate-level programs, the GRE General Test lets you show schools you are ready to succeed.

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GRE scores are accepted at thousands of graduate and business schools in more than 160 countries. Law schools in the United States have also begun accepting GRE scores for admission. Here is a list of institutions around the world that accept GRE scores:

GRE Test Structure

The GRE General Test assesses one’s critical thinking skills in three areas: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. These are skills that have been developed over a long period of time and are not related to a specific field of study but, rather, are important for all.

The Analytical Writing section comes first and includes one "Analyze an Issue" task and one "Analyze an Argument" task. It assesses your ability to articulate and support complex ideas, construct and evaluate arguments, and sustain a focused and coherent discussion. To help you prepare for the Analytical Writing section, the GRE program has published the entire pool of tasks from which your test tasks will be selected. Find more information on the official website. Read: GRE Exam Pattern

After the Analytical Writing section, there are two Verbal Reasoning sections, two Quantitative Reasoning sections and one unscored section with questions that are being considered for use in future tests. Because these sections may appear in any order, you should treat each section as if it counts toward your score.

GRE Eligibility and Availability

There are no specific eligibility criteria for taking the GRE test. The only qualification is your ability to produce a valid, government-issued photo ID on test day that matches the ID you used to apply for the exam. ID requirements depend on where you plan to test and your country of citizenship.

GRE Exam Dates

Unlike entrance examinations in India, there is not just one specific administration date for the GRE test. One can take the computer-delivered test any time of the year by making an appointment online to take the test at the closest GRE examination centre. In large cities in India, it is offered several times a week, and this is great flexibility with the GRE program. However, it’s important to plan one’s GRE test preparation schedule and test dates well in advance so that you can achieve your desired scores before you need to submit them with your graduate or business school application.

If you feel you didn't do your best on test day, that's okay. You can retake the test, and then send only the scores you want schools to see. This benefit of being able to send only your best scores is called the ScoreSelect option, and it’s only available with GRE tests. The GRE test can be taken once every 21 days up to five times in a continuous rolling 12-month period.

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GRE Exam Features

In addition to the ScoreSelect option, there are other ways that the GRE General Test is designed to help you perform to the best of your abilities on test day. The GRE General Test is the only computer-delivered graduate-level admissions test that allows you to freely move forward and backwards throughout an entire section. You can mark harder questions that you think will take more time to answer, skip them for the time being and return to them later if you have time remaining in the section. You can also go back and change answers, preview questions and review answers within a section, and an on-screen calculator is available for use during the Quantitative Reasoning sections.

GRE Preparation

You can get study materials to help you understand the GRE test structure of the test and prepare to do your best directly from the Educational Testing Service, the maker of the test. ETS makes available free POWERPREP® Online practice tests that simulate the actual test and include the design features you will encounter on test day. Consider taking a free practice test early on to understand in which areas to focus your efforts. Once you have a study plan in mind, you can find practice materials for all sections of the test on the official GRE website

Useful Tips for GRE Exam

If one is preparing for the GRE test for the first time, there are certain things that need to be kept in mind.

  • The Verbal Reasoning section assesses your ability to understand what you read and how you apply your reasoning skills. Make sure you understand what each question is asking by reading each question thoroughly and reading all answer choices before answering. There is no credit for partially correct answers.
  • The Quantitative Reasoning section assesses your ability to interpret and analyse quantitative information and solve problems using mathematical models. When appropriate, avoid lengthy calculations by rounding numbers before computing an estimate, looking for comparisons, and by recognizing and continuing numerical patterns. If applicable, draw your own diagram or figure, or make a list to help sort out what the question is asking.
  • The Analytical Writing section assesses critical thinking and analytical writing skills. Pay close attention to the specific task directions, and make sure that your essay response addresses the specific instructions. In addition, review the scoring guides for each task available on the GRE website at www.ets.org/gre/prepare to gain a deeper understanding of how readers evaluate essays and the elements they are looking for in an essay.

That said, practising with GRE question papers and timing oneself in exam situations is also another important way to do your best on the GRE General Test.

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About the Author
Rahul Singha
Study Abroad Expert

With over 8 years of experience in overseas education, Rahul Singha has been previously associated with prominent education houses. He is also responsible for keeping a sharp eye on education policies of major study... Read Full Bio


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