What is GRE?

For those looking to get into graduate school, the GRE is an essential part of the process. Below, we explain what GRE is and what it’s for.

With a bachelor’s degree in hand, many students start to look towards the future. In other words, graduate school is often an end goal for students seeking to build on their education. With that in mind, there are a few steps involved in the graduate school application process. One of those steps is taking the GRE.

The GRE is a standardized test that many schools in the United States and Canada require for admission. Owned and administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the exam tests a range of skills to gauge and analyze students’ prospects for graduate school.

Furthermore, the GRE is the most widely accepted graduate admissions test worldwide.

What is GRE for?

Before, we mentioned the GRE is an exam for prospective graduate students. Since 1936, the GRE has been a crucial part of the graduate school admissions process. Scoring well on the GRE sets you up quite nicely for graduate school options, for a variety of subjects.

Furthermore, the GRE can be used to apply for Juris Doctor programs at various law schools. It assesses a range of skills that can be widely applied in several disciplines.

Overall, the exam takes roughly 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete.

What skills does GRE test?

Let’s break down the sections of the GRE and how they are scored:

1. Verbal Reasoning

The first of the three skill assessments relates to a student’s ability to conclude discourse. Also, the verbal reasoning section tests one’s skills in reasoning from incomplete data, understanding literal and figurative intent and summarizing texts.

Moreover, the section asks students to understand the meanings of certain words, concepts and ideas. This section provides the student with a passage. From there, the student answers a succession of questions based on information in the passage.

While the test does add up your responses, the amount of correct questions you answer adds to a raw score. From here, the raw scare undergoes a process of equating, where the difficulty of questions comes into account. Students may score between 130 and 170 on this section.

2. Quantitative Reasoning

In contrast, the next section of the GRE assesses a student’s ability to interpret and analyze quantitative information. This section uses mathematical models, arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis.

Questions on this section of the exam are mathematical reasoning questions. For example, you may get a question in which you use an algebraic equation to find a solution.

Ultimately, this section places a great emphasis on quantitative reasoning skills.

Compared to the verbal reasoning section, quantitative reasoning is scored much the same. The total number of questions you answer adds up to a raw score. Then, the score is curved and adjusted depending on the difficulty of the questions.

3. Analytical Writing

What is GRE analytical writing? Well, as you might suspect, this section differs from both reasoning sections. Most notably, this section of the exam has two parts where you write in both. This section asks students to utilize analytical writing skills, such as the ability to articulate and support complex ideas.

First, students are asked to “analyze an issue” in which they explicitly write an argument on their opinion of the given subject. Second, there is an “analyze an argument” section. In comparison, this section asks students to construct an argument for a position you may disagree with.

In this case, both essays are scored on a zero-to-six scale. After you receive your raw score, the two scores are averaged together to contribute to your overall score.

What do I need for GRE?

Now that you know what the GRE is, let’s take a look at the cost of the exam as well as some other logistics.

First, the exam costs 205 USD, and the ETS website hosts registration. While the price varies globally, the price is consistent for North America. Moreover, the ETS website has a very helpful Registration Checklist to assist students every step of the way.

Right now, the GRE still has several options for testing sites and dates. For example, you can take the exam from the comfort of your own home. Before you register, here are some other things you should consider:

  • Understand the rescheduling policy and develop a backup plan.
  • Provide an authorized form of ID when you register and take the test.
  • Create an ETS account for updated news on the exam.
  • Determine where you want your scores sent and how to receive them.

What to do with the GRE

Here's a reminder of what GRE is: it's the most widely accepted standardized test for graduate schools. The test can be used to replace many other exam scores such as the GMAT. But, the score weighs differently for other exams.

First, understand what your scores mean for you. A score that is higher, or closer to 170 is excellent. But, the average score of the reasoning sections is 150 and 152.

The higher your score, the more graduate options you have.

Can I repeat the GRE?

If you want to retake the GRE exam, you can do so five times a year. But, you must wait 21 days before you take the computer exam again. Once you complete that cycle, you may try again! You can retake the paper-based exam three times a year.

How do I convert my GRE score to GMAT score?

Certain schools accept different exams, and you can use your GRE for a variety of applications.

If you want to convert your GRE score to a GMAT score, check out our GRE to GMAT conversion tool.