The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) is a standardized test that is an admissions requirement for many graduate schools. Created and administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS), the exam aims to measure verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing and critical thinking skills that have been acquired over a long period of time and that are not related to any specific field of study.
The GRE General Test is offered as a computer-based, computer adaptive exam administered by selected qualified testing centers. The cost to take the test varies between US$130 and $210, depending on the country in which it is taken, although ETS will reduce the fee under certain circumstances. The organization has been promoting financial aid to those GRE applicants who prove economic hardship.
The exam consists of four sections. The first section is a writing section, while the other three are multiple-choice style. One of the multiple choice style exams will test verbal skills, another will test quantitative skills and a third exam will be an experimental section that is not included in the reported score. The entire test procedure takes about 4 hours.
An examinee can miss one or more questions on a multiple-choice section and still receive a perfect score of 170. Likewise, even if no question is answered correctly, 130 is the lowest possible score. The GRE test score lasts for 5 years.
The GRE exam is administered year-round and on demand at test centers around the world. You can read more about test dates and locations HERE.
ETS.org: GRE information and the site where you will register for the exam.
YOU SHOULD KNOW…
1. Focus on the first 10 questions
We recommend candidates pay special attention to the first 10 questions of a given section. The reason is because the exam begins by asking a question of average difficulty. If the question is answered correctly, the exam asks a harder question, which places the candidate into a higher scoring bracket. Every time a question is answered the scoring range narrows. If you do well in the beginning, you can put yourself in such a high scoring bracket that no matter how well you do on the remainder of the test, your score can only be reduced by so many points.
2. Ignore the time
Although you may be pressured to rush through the first few questions, we recommend you be patient with the first 10. The questions at the end of the section carry less weight than the early ones, so don’t panic if you have to hurry at the end of a section. It’s better to concentrate in the beginning.
3. Open up your high school textbooks
If you are having trouble with some of the concepts on the exam, it will be important that you revisit the important concepts of algebra and geometry that you learned in high school.
4. Take a GRE prep course
We recommend a formal class or private tutor of some kind. Beyond the curriculum, a key benefit of a class is the discipline it provides. Between classes, homework, and practice tests, you are likely to make the GRE a part of your daily routine and gain the practice that you need. Because the test is taken on a computer in a strange environment, practice and familiarity with the test is crucial. You should allow about two months for prep, and ideally you will not be distracted by essays and other aspects of the process during that time. All in all, two to three months is a fair amount of time to budget for the GRE, when you consider study, first attempt, and then possible restudy and retake.
5. Look at practice tests
The Educational Testing Service (ETS), has free computer adaptive tests online that help simulate what is a foreign experience to many.
6. Feel that you underachieved? Take the test again
Although business shools have access to any GRE scores for tests you’ve taken in the last five years, admissions teams will focus on your highest score. You can always take the exam again if you feel you could have done better.