GRE Study Guide
- Chapter 1 – Understanding the GRE
- Chapter 2 – Verbal Reasoning
- Chapter 3 – Quantitative Reasoning
- Chapter 4 – Analytical Writing
- Chapter 5 – Common Mistakes Made on the GRE
- Chapter 6 – Do Not Ignore These if You Want to Score Well on the GRE
- Chapter 7 – Bonus – Best GRE Prep Apps for Studying
What is the GRE?
The GRE stands for Graduate Record Examination. It is a standardized test for students who aspire to join post-graduate programs in the U.S. and other countries. The GRE is divided into two types of tests. The first one is a general test, and the second one is divided into subject tests. When speaking of GRE, priority is always given to the general test at first. The general test is what all applicants must take, unlike the subject tests specific to their chosen subjects.
The general test contains questions that are designed to simulate the thinking abilities, which you would need at a business school or any other post-graduate course. The general test contains various sections that include analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning. The verbal and quantitative reasoning tests are scored on a scale between 200 and 800. On the other hand, the analytical writing section relies on point-based scoring, where six points are the highest that can be scored. The verbal reasoning test aims to measure a candidate’s ability to evaluate and analyze written content and process the information found within that written content. Quantitative reasoning tests your ability to solve problems using quantitative methods, which might include arithmetic, algebra, data analysis, and geometry. The Analytical Writing section tests abilities related to writing and critical thinking. It tests your ability to explain and support ideas or concepts fluently and efficiently.
Who Takes the Test?
The GRE is taken by many students who aspire to enroll in graduate courses or business school. The aspiring applicants come from all over the globe, and their general aim is to pursue a master’s degree, doctoral degree, or even an accredited MBA online program. The GRE helps measure the candidates’ abilities and skills using a common system, especially since they originate from various cultural and educational backgrounds. The GRE results are then used by various panels that oversee admissions, fellowships, or scholarships to supplement existing undergraduate results, recommendation letters, and various other necessary qualifications.
The test is taken at authorized centers located across the globe in various countries, cities, towns, etc. To be more specific, there are around 1000 authorized GRE centers located in 160 countries. Most of the countries offer computer-delivered tests throughout the year. In fact, in Korea, Mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, the computer-delivered test is available thrice a month. The countries that do not follow the computer-delivered test system use an alternative method called the paper (delivered) GRE test. This GRE test is conducted a year thrice in February, October, and November.
Overview of Question Types on the GRE
There are three main sections in the GRE General Test. These sections include Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. Each unit is designed to test your general intelligence and is not related to your expertise in a chosen field of study. Some would say that the General Test is much more relevant than the chosen field of study.
- Conduct an analysis of a piece of discourse and derive conclusions from it.
- Use reasoning skills with help from insufficient data.
- Determine the writer or author’s perspective or assumptions from reading the written content.
- Understand different kinds of meanings such as figurative meaning, literal meaning, and intended meaning.
- Identify significant points and distinguish them from less significant points.
- Make sense of textual structure and also summarize the given text.
- Understand the meanings of specific words, sentences, and whole paragraphs.
- Understand the connection between words and concepts/ideas.
The Quantitative Test:
- Interpret quantitative data or information and then analyze it.
- Find solutions to problems using mathematics.
- Implement mathematical systems such as algebra, arithmetic, data interpretation, and geometry to solve problems.
A calculator is usually provided during this part of the General GRE Test.
The Analytical Writing Test:
- Articulate or explain ideas fluently.
- Support these ideas with the help of examples and reasoning skills.
- Analyze claims and their related evidence.
- Discuss coherently and with focus.
- Manage the various core aspects of written English.
The entire purpose of the Analytical Writing Section is to help you showcase your skills in responding appropriately to a given task.
GRE Question Structure
There are two particular types of GRE General Tests. One is the Computer-Delivered Test, and the other is the Paper-Delivered Test. The following breaks down what you can expect from each type.
The Paper-Delivered Test:
- Time: The time given is 3 hours and 30 minutes for the entire test. The test contains six sections with a 10-minute break provided after the completion of the second section.
- Time per section: Each test is provided with a particular time limit. The Analytical Writing Test is divided into two sections. Each section must be answered in 30 minutes. The first section involves analyzing a problem, while the second one involves the analysis of an argument. Similarly, the Verbal Reasoning Test is divided into two sections, 25 questions per section. The time provided is 35 minutes for each section. As for the Quantitative Analysis Test, there are two sections again with 25 questions each. The time provided for each section is 40 minutes.
- Order of the tests: The Analytical Writing Test is always the first part of the GRE General Exam. However, the other two tests may arrive in any order.
Candidates can skip and return to questions in the sections provided under Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning. The answers can also be changed if needed.
The Computer-Delivered Test:
- Time: The time provided for the Computer-Delivered GRE General Test is 3 hours and 45 minutes. There are six sections in the test, with a 10-minute break being provided after the completion of the third section.
- Time per section: The Analytical Writing Tests contains a single section that is divided into 2 separate tasks. Each task must be completed in 30 minutes. The first task is to analyze a problem, and the other is to analyze an argument. Similarly, the Verbal Reasoning Test has two sections with 20 questions each. The time allotted per section is 30 minutes. The Quantitative Reasoning Test has two sections with 20 questions each and a 35-minute time limit per section.
- Extra sections: There will be an Unscored Section or a Research Section provided, too. The Research Section will usually turn up right at the end of the test. The Research Section is provided for ETS’s (Educational Testing Service) research purposes. Simultaneously, the Unscored Section helps ETS try out questions that may be incorporated into the GRE General Test in the future. The Unscored Section also helps ETS compare the scores between earlier and newer editions of the test.
- Order of the tests: The Analytical Writing Test is always the first, while the others may appear in any order. This is why even the Research Section or the Unscored Section must be treated as scored sections to complete the test on time.
Questions can be skipped and returned to later, for which you are provided with ‘Mark’ and ‘Review’ features for each question. Answers can also be edited and corrected if required.
The Scoring System for the GRE
The GRE General Test scores are valid for up to 5 years from the date of testing, after which you must take part in the test again if needed. These are the following scoring patterns for the GRE General Test:
- Verbal Reasoning: 130-170 with an increment of 1 point.
- Quantitative Reasoning: 130-170 with an increment of 1 point.
- Analytical Writing: 0 to 6 points with an increment of half a point.
Sections that go unanswered will be marked as ‘NS’ or ‘No Score.’ The scoring processes for the Computer-Delivered Test and Paper-Delivered Tests are similar. First, a raw score is calculated for the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections based on the correct answers. The number of questions with the right answers and the questions’ statistical aspects are factored into the raw score. So two candidates who give the right answers to the same number of questions end up with varying scores, which is explained by the complexity of the questions each of the candidates answered.
The raw score is then is scaled to the final score using the method of equating. The final score is then fixed to reflect the differences in the questions’ complexity in different test versions.
As for the Analytical Writing Test, scoring is carried out by two readers who assess the answers based on writing skills and critical thinking abilities. Minor grammatical errors are usually overlooked; however, serious ones end up affecting the overall score. The readers score answers on a 0-to-6-point scale with half-point increments. The average for both reader scores is calculated and rounded off to the closest 1.5 points, resulting in the Analytical Writing Test’s final score. If there is a vast difference between the first two readers’ scores, the test is evaluated by a third reader.
What is ScoreSelect?
The ScoreSelect option allows you to send in only your best scores to the institutes or schools you apply to. It basically means that you can take a GRE test twice and then choose the best scores to send.
When the time comes actually to send in the scores, you can choose from the following options:
On test day:
- Most recent: The scores from the current test can be sent.
- All options: It allows you to send scores from all the General Tests you took within the past five years.
- You can also choose not to send in any of the scores for the time being.
After test day, candidates can send in extra score reports for a small sum.
- Most recent: Scores from the most recent test can be sent in.
- All options: Scores from all the GRE General Tests from the past five years can be sent in.
- Any option: Any particular set of scores can be chosen and sent as per your wishes.
The benefit of the ScoreSelect System is that you can choose to send in only your best scores. Plus, the schools or institutes will only have access to the scores that are sent to them. They will have no information about your performance on other GRE General Tests.
Additional GRE Resources on Getting Started:
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