Ten Things You Need to Know About the GRE

Ten Things You Need to Know About the GRE

Be prepared for your GRE. Find out how it is structured, and understand the changes that will be made in the next year.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardized test that many graduate schools use as one of factors to determine your eligibility for their masters degree or Ph.D. program. However, the weight put on your score varies by school. At some schools it is a merely a formality, but in others it can be an important factor in selecting graduate students. Some schools look at all of your scores, while other only care about one section. Contact your prospective graduate schools’ admissions department to find out how much value is placed on the GRE score.

Beginning in August 2011, students must take the revised GRE. The new GRE was designed as a result to criticism against the test for not being comprehensive enough to really determine how well someone will do in graduate school. Critics also spoke out against the question-by-question adjustment because some students do better on tests as they become more comfortable with the test format.

Before taking the test, make sure you allot yourself plenty of time to study. Preparing for the GRE well in advance and not cramming it all in at the last minute will help ease test anxiety. In addition to the free study guide that you receive after registering, there are GRE prep courses offered by a variety of companies to aid in your studies.

  1. There are two GRE tests: the general test or the subject test. The general test covers analytical thinking, verbal and math abilities. There are a variety of GRE subject tests, ranging from computer science to psychology.
  2. The cost for the computer based general GRE is $160 and includes basic test-prep software instantly available for download once you register. It also covers the cost for sending test scores to four graduate schools of your choice. There is an additional $23 fee per extra school. If you demonstrate financial difficulty paying for the test, the fee may be reduced.
  3. The GRE is a time-based examination. You are allowed 45 minutes for the issue essay, 30 minutes for the argument essay, 30 minutes for verbal reasoning and 45 minutes for the quantitative section.
  4. You are not allowed to use a calculator or have any notes in the testing room.
  5. You may take the test at a designated computer test site, or by paper if there is no local test site nearby. If you live in a city or heavily populated area, you should have no problem finding a test site. However, if you live in a rural area, you may have to drive several hours and possibly cross state borders.
  6. The first 10 questions are the most important to determining your score. From these answers, the computer calculates what range you can never succeed.
  7. There is one 10 minute break allotted after the analytical writing section, and a 1 minute break between all other sections. You are not allowed to leave the building on any break periods.
  8. The degree of difficulty for each question is adjusted based on your performance. As you answer more questions correctly, they become more difficult.
  9. Although a masters degree program may not require applicants to take the GRE, it may still enhance your chances of getting in, especially if your undergraduate grades were on the low side.
  10. At the end of the test, if you are unsatisfied you may cancel the scores and nothing will be sent to your schools. You may retake the test once a month, for up to five times per year.



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Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Tests: The Basics
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GRE Prep Courses: Overview
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