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GRE Graduate Record Examination (General Test)

by Anup chowdhury
GRE - Graduate Record Examinations

GRE – Graduate Record Examination is a standardized test conducted by ETS (Educational Testing Services). The GRE scores are accepted by most of the top graduate level schools worldwide for the Master’s degree programme. Getting an advanced degree from a college abroad can create a lot of opportunities and pays in higher earnings and lower unemployment rates. If you plan to pursue a postgraduate degree from an internationally acclaimed university, GRE is your gateway. It basically comprises two test formats GRE General and GRE Subject test. While a GRE general test covers topics like verbal reasoning, analytical writing and quantitative reasoning, the GRE subject test involves topics specific to the subject in which you want to pursue postgraduation.

In this article, we have covered every significant detail about GRE General Test including its exam pattern, test fees, test centres, key dates, preparation tips and much more.

GRE What is the GRE General test all about?

The GRE General Test helps to get admission to graduate schools like business or law schools and its a smart move to show schools that you are the best candidate. The GRE General Test features questions which reflect the kind of thinking that a candidate possesses. It covers questions from three major topics such as:

  • Verbal Reasoning: It measures the ability to analyse and draw conclusions from disclosure and reason from incomplete data. The applicant should understand multiple levels of meaning such as literal, figurative and authors intent. To summarise text and distinguish major from minor points, understand the meaning of words, sentences, and entire texts. To understand relationships among words and concepts.
  • Quantitative Reasoning: It measures the ability to understand, interpret and analyse quantitative information. To solve problems using mathematical models and apply basic concepts of arithmetic algebra, geometry and data analysis.
  • Analytical Writing: It measures critical thinking and analytical writing skills such as articulation which could support complex ideas with relevant reasons and examples.GRE

The test is taken by prospective graduates and business school applicants who wish to pursue a masters, MBA, specialized masters in business or doctoral degree. The GRE Exam test score is used by admission departments of different Universities to supplement undergraduate records. The GRE test is available at 1,000 or more centres across 160 countries. The test is available in computer-driven-form and paper-delivered form. The computer-driven test is available on a continuous basis throughout the year in most regions of the world. In China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Korea, the computer-driven test is available 3 times per month. In the months of October, November, and February, the paper delivered test is conducted in countries where the computer-driven test is not possible.


GRE – Test Content and Structure

The GRE General Test measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills which have developed for a long period of time and are not related to any specific topic. The test is important to all. In this section, we will describe in detail the required skills tested in the examination.

Verbal Reasoning – GRE

The verbal reasoning section measures the ability to analyse and evaluate written material and extract information, analyse relationships among component parts of sentences and recognise relationship among words and concepts. The verbal reasoning section contains mainly three types of questions:

  • Reading comprehensions
  • Text completion
  • Sentence equivalence

GRE – Reading Comprehension 

It is designed to test a wide range of abilities that are required to read and understand kinds of prose commonly encountered in graduate schools. The applicants will need to understand the meaning of individual words and sentences, the meaning of paragraphs and large bodies of texts, distinguish between minor and major parts and passage summarisation. The applicants should be able to draw conclusions from the information provided, reasoning from incomplete data to infer missing information, understanding the structure of a text in terms of how the parts are related to one another and identify authors assumptions and perspectives. They should be able to analyse a text and reach the conclusions, identify strengths and weaknesses of a position and develop alternative explanations.

Each reading comprehension passage is based on a passage which may range in length from one paragraph to several ones. It contains 10 passages, the majority of which are one paragraph in length and few of them have long paragraphs. These passages are drawn from physical sciences, biological sciences, social sciences, business, arts, and humanities. Half of the questions on the test will be based on passages and one to six questions are provided per passage.

GRE – Text Completion

The applicants should not simply extract the information presented on the page but maintain a constant attitude of interpretation and evaluation and should be able to reason from what they have read so far to create a picture of the whole and revising the picture as they go. This tests the applicants ability of how they would omit crucial words from short passages and the test taker should use the remaining information in the passage and form it as the basis for selecting words to fill blanks and create a coherent meaning.

Generally, the structure of questions under this section follow the below pattern:

  • Passage composed of 1-5 sentences
  • 1-3 blanks
  • Three answer choices per blank
  • Answer choices for different blanks function independently
  • Single correct answer consisting of one choice for each blank and there is no credit for partially correct answers.

GRE – Sentence Equivalence

The question in this section tests the ability of the exam takers if they can reach a conclusion about a passage on the basis of partial information. It consists of single sentence questions with just one blank. You need to find two choices that lead to a complete coherent sentence. The structure of the question consists of a single sentence, one blank, six answer choices and requires the applicant to select two of the correct answer choices.

GRE – Quantitative Reasoning

The quantitative reasoning section of GRE General Test assesses:

  • Mathematical skills
  • Understanding of elementary mathematical concepts
  • Ability to answer quantitatively to model and solve problems with quantitative methods

Some of the questions are posed in real life settings while others are posed in mathematical settings.  The skills, concepts, and abilities are assessed in four content areas:

  • Arithmetic: The topics under this section include properties, types of integers such as divisibility, factorisation, prime number, remainders, and odd-even integers. There are also other areas like arithmetic operations, exponents, roots, and concepts such as estimation, percent, ratio rate, absolute value, number line, decimal representation and sequence of numbers.
  • Geometry: The topics in this section include parallel and perpendicular lines, circles, triangles such as isosceles, equilateral, 30-60-90 degree triangles, quadrilaterals, polygons, congruent figures etc.
  • Algebra: The topics which include are factoring, simplifying algebraic expressions, functions, equations, quadratic equations, simultaneous equations, and inequalities etc.
  • Data Analysis: There are several topics which are covered under descriptive analytics such as mean, median, mode, range, standard deviation, quartiles, interpretation of data in tables and graphs such as line graphs, bar graphs etc. This also includes elementary probability such as the probability of compound events, probability distribution, normal distribution, counting methods such as combination, Venn diagrams etc.

GRE – Analytical Writing

This measures critical thinking and analytical writing skills of the students. It assesses the applicants ability to articulate and support complex ideas, construct arguments and sustain focussed and coherent discussions. The analytical writing consists of two separately timed analytical writing tasks: Analyse an Issue (30 minutes) and Analyse an Argument (30 minutes). In the issue task, an opinion on the issue of general interest is tested.


GRE – For Business Schools

Business schools are using GRE scores as a part of their admission process for MBA, specialized masters and other business programs. The GRE General Test is a widely accepted measure to test a students preparedness for starting graduate-level work. It features a flexible test-taker friendly design which is a better experience for the applicants. Once you have qualified the GRE General Test, then you can do the following:

  • You can choose from thousands of graduate and business school program from around the globe to start your postgraduate studies.
  • You can make up your mind as to what you would like to pursue after your graduation and you can appear for this test which can give you more opportunities to explore.

GRE – Exam Fees

The GRE Fees is charged in US dollars and is subject to change without notice. You can check out the list below that highlights the fee for the standard test administration of the GRE General Test.

Country-Wise Fee Description of GRE

S.No Countries Fees
1 Australia USD 230
2 China USD 231.30
3 Nigeria USD 220
4 Turkey USD 255
5 All other areas of World USD 205

GRE Fee Details for Special Requests

S.No Special Requests Fees
1 Late registration fee USD 25
2 Standby testing USD 50
3 Rescheduling fee- China USD 53.90
4 Rescheduling fee for other countries USD 50
5 Changing the test centre USD 50
6 Changing the subject test USD 50

GRE Fee Details for Scoring Services

S.No Scoring services Fees
1 View score online Free
2 GRE Diagnostic service Free
3 Print official examinee score report online Free
4 Additional Score Reports USD 27
5 Question and Answer review service USD 50
6 Score review for Analytical Writing measure USD 60
7 Score review for Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning measures USD 50
8 Score reinstatement fee USD 50

The computer-driven GRE General Test fees are accepted in the following forms:

  • Credit/Debit card
  • PayPal
  • E-check services
  • Money Order/Certified check/voucher

The paper-delivered GRE General Test accepts payment of fees through credit card/debit card, PayPal, e-check services, money order, western union quick pay services etc. ETS has the right to add or delete payment options on its own discretion.


GRE – Test Validity

ETS ensures fairness and validity of GRE tests through test development, administration and scoring processes. It has developed a system of internal checks and balances and audit teams to verify all tests and services so that they meet professional standards.

The reviewers are trained and routine analysis of test questions is conducted to establish there is no unfair differences in the group of questions. All the persons involved in the development or scoring of test questions are trained to ensure that all examinees have a similar opportunity to show their skills. The validity research and analysis team measures what is supposed to be measured in the GRE test. The GRE program documents the following types of validity: construct validity, content validity, predictive validity, consequential validity, and external validity.

GRE – Registration, Test Centres and Dates

Firstly, the applicants need to create an ETS account to further register for the GRE General Test. The name you use when you register and the spelling of that name must match exactly with the names printed on the identification documents which you shall present on the day of the GRE test. You need to review the acceptable forms of ID on the ETS website.

GRE – ETS Registration

Follow the steps below to create the ETS account:

  • Visit the web page here and select the ETS account button on the upper right corner of the page.
  • On the ETS account login page, click the Create an Account button.
  • Creating the account will allow you to register for the GRE General Test, apply for testing accommodations, view, change or cancel the registration, purchase test prep materials, viewing scores, access free GRE diagnostic test etc.
  • Provide information on name, date of birth, gender, email ID, address, phone number, communication preferences etc.
  • Create a password and a security question and proceed to the next step.
  • Submit the form to create the account.

Now the applicants can proceed to register:

  • After you have created an ETS account, you are required to register for the test.
  • If you have the disability or health-related needs then you need to visit the web link here to check for testing accommodations.
  • On the ETS account page, enter username and password to enter into your ETS account.
  • The applicants can see their name and ETS ID on the right corner of the page.
  • You can find register/find test centres, dates button and continue.
  • Select the type of GRE test from the drop-down menu and find the test centre near your location.
  • Choose test dates within the two months period as shown.
  • Choose Find available test centres and dates.
  • Now you can select the test dates by date and distance tab on the top left.
  • Once you have selected date and distance, you will see available test centres and time and a register button on the side. Click register to choose a test centre and date and confirm it.
  • Finally, review the test information and continue to the next step.
  • You will be asked to participate in GRE search service where GRE can follow up with new opportunities with GRE Exam and future prospects.
  • Provide background information and also check out for POWERPREP services available which can help you in preparing for the GRE test. You can include them in your payment cart.
  • Now you proceed to checkout with GRE General Test registration where you can use your bank specified payment methods to pay for it.
  • After you finish the last step, your order will be placed and now you will be able to take the test.

GRE – Exam Test Centres & Dates

The Computer-driven GRE General Test is offered year-round at Prometric test centres and on specific dates at additional testing locations outside of Prometric test centres. You can find out the detailed list of test centres in the US and outside the US in this link. The GRE General Test is available at more than 1,000 test centres in more than 160 countries. This test is offered as a computer-driven test at most locations around the world and as a paper-delivered test in areas where computer-driven testing is not available.

The applicants can take the test once every 21 days up to five times with a continuous rolling of 12 month period. For the paper delivered GRE General Test, not all the centres are open for all test dates. You need to check test dates, deadlines and score reporting dates. Score reports are sent to the score recipients you designate according to approx. score report mailing dates. You need to wait for some days for the delivery of paper-based results compared to the computer-driven one which is delivered within 10-12 days.

Check out latest dates of the GRE Exam General Test that took place for the 2018 session in the table provided below:

S.No Test dates Registration Regular Deadline Late Deadline Score Available online
1 10/6/18 08/24/18 08/31/18 11/03/18
2 11/10/18 09/28/18 10/05/18 12/08/18
3 02/02/19 12/21/18 12/28/18 03/12/19

Visit the link here to find your test centre according to the two month period dates you want to choose from. You can choose your preferred test centre and date according to the steps mentioned in the previous section. The applicants need to have a valid passport prior to starting the application process of the GRE General Test. Passport information will be required for the registration to GRE online.


GRE – Test Prep

GRE General Test conducted by ETS offers a variety of free and low-cost tools to help the students prepare for the test. The free and official preparation materials for the GRE test available for purchase can be checked here.

GRE – GRE Exam Scores

The score report contains the following information:

  • Contact details
  • Date of birth, gender, intended a graduate major
  • Test dates
  • GRE test score and associate percentile ranks
  • Authorized score recipients and cumulative record of scores reported within the last five years

GRE General Test scores are reported in the following manner:

S.No Section Score Scale
1 Verbal Reasoning 130-170, in 1 point increments
2 Quantitative Reasoning 130-170 in 1 point increments
3 Analytical Writing 0-6 in half-point increments

The test fee entitles you to request the scores to be sent to up to four graduate institutions or fellowship sponsors. The applicant can decide which test score to send to the institution by choosing the option of Score Select. For the computer-driven GRE, the candidates can designate free score recipients at the test centre. For the paper delivered GRE General Test, the candidates will be asked to designate free score recipients during registration.

On the test day of computer-driven GRE General Test, after completing the test, you will be able to view verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning scores unofficially and designate recipients you want the scores to be sent. You can ask the test centre administrator for the appropriate form to indicate the unlisted institution. You will be able to select the “Most Recent” (sending scores from the current test administration) or “All” (sending scores from all administrations in the last five years) option for up to four institutions for free. After the test day, the applicants will need to order additional score reports for a fee of USD 27 per recipient.

Understand the scores of the GRE General Test

  • Scores range from 130-170 for verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning at one point increments and 0 to 6 for analytical writing with half point increments. If applicants do not answer at least one question within a measure, a no score is reported.
  • The scores from different General Test measures are not compared because each measure is scaled separately. The percentile ranks provided on the score report is used to compare relative performance among all measures.
  • The computer-driven GRE General Test (verbal and quantitative reasoning) score reflects the number of questions answered correctly and the difficulty level of each section. In the analytical writing section, each essay receives a score from one trained reader using a six-point scale. The essay is scored by e-rater scoring engine, a program developed by ETS which is capable of identifying essay related to writing proficiency.
  • The paper delivered GRE General Test verbal and quantitative reasoning measure score report is based on the number of questions answered correctly and each essay receives a score from two trained readers.

GRE – Percentile rank

GRE Exam scores are reported with a corresponding percentile rank. A percentile rank for a score indicates the percentage of examinees who took the test and obtained a lower score. The percentile ranks are based on the scores of all examinees who attempted the examination within the recent time frame.

If you like to know more about international study programs and fellowships, please visit our international study section.


Q. Is GRE exam difficult to take?

In the GRE exam, GRE has more challenging vocabulary and reading passages, and the math problems have trickier wording or require higher-level reasoning when compared to SAT and ACT.

Q. What does GRE test in candidates?

It tests broad assessment of your critical thinking, analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning skills

Q. What is the good score in GRE for admission abroad?

It all depends on what the university requires. A good score totally depends on the program and field you have applied to your preferred university/college. The verbal and quantitative portions of the GRE are scored between 130170, and the average score falls somewhere around 150-152. The Analytical Writing section of the GRE is scored between 0 and 6 in half-point increments, and the average hits somewhere around 3.5.

Q. Who takes GRE exam?

GRE is a standardized test taken by many people who plan on attending graduate school.

Q. What should be the study hours to prepare for GRE test?

Generally, people spend about one to three months studying a few hours a week for the GRE.

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