What is the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)?

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Aspiring to go to graduate school? Have you been told you have to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)? This is what you need to know about the GRE.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) standardized test is an application requirement in many graduate school programs in English-speaking nations. Administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS), the GRE test measures quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, critical thinking skills, and analytical writing skills. The test in its entirety takes approximately four hours and can be taken using pencil and paper or via computer.

GRE test measures quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, critical thinking skills, and analytical writing skills – image by hoctoantap.com

Preparation for the GRE can be done via the use of booklets or software that are available from Kaplan or the Princeton Review. Also, ETS has GRE preparation software which is called PowerPrep; this software replicates the actual GRE structure and includes full practice tests which have questions from previously given GRE exams.

PowerPrep replicates the actual GRE structure – image by reddit.com

Sections and Specialty GRE Tests

There are several sections on the general GRE test. For instance, the verbal aspect of the GRE includes completions, analogies, and passages for reading comprehension. It is presented in multiple-choice format. Quantitative section questions are presented in multiple-choice format and include quantitative comparison-type questions and problem solving questions.

There are several sections on the general GRE test – image by shiksha.com

The writing section of the GRE includes an issue task essay and an argument task essay. In each essay, individuals have the opportunity to demonstrate their writing skills as they respond to the topics presented on the GRE. The GRE general test is not the only test available.

There are also additional GRE Subject-matter tests which assess your knowledge of specific topics such as psychology, biology, chemistry, math, physics, English literature, or computer science.

Weight the GRE Scores are Given

Although many schools require the GRE as part of the application process, the weight that GRE scores are given or the section of the test which is emphasized will vary depending on the school and department.

Many schools require the GRE as part of the application process – image by kuwaitinstitute.com

For example, some departments may be more interested in the GRE verbal score. English departments will most likely be more interested in the writing score or the English Literature score if a student takes the subject-matter test since English graduate programs include a lot of writing and a lot of emphasis on English literature.

GRE Score Scale – image by gyandhan.com

On the other hand, math departments or engineering departments may be more interested in the GRE quantitative score or the math test score because those scores are directly related to a student’s math skills. Typically, it is possible to contact the school that one is interested in to find out how that particular school evaluates an applicant’s GRE performance within the context of their admissions criteria.

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