GRE, Graduate Record Examination, is a standardized test that is widely accepted for admission into various graduate and business schools across the world. The test is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The GRE exam aims to assess skills which are necessary to succeed in the graduate and business programs.
Why do schools require the GRE, and what role does it play in admissions?
The GRE score is taken as a benchmark for university admissions since this gives them an idea of the reasoning skills the candidate has acquired over his educational career regardless of the subject he opts for. The GRE score also helps the schools by providing them with common measures for comparing the qualifications of applicants.
In addition to being an admission criterion, the GRE score is also used to determine the eligibility for merit-based grants and fellowships, as well as teaching and research assistantships programs. Therefore, the GRE scores are used by some of the schools as cut-off points to limit the application pool, while others use GRE scores to directly determine how much financial support you receive.
|Measure||No. of questions||Time allotted||Score scale|
|Analytical Writing||One Issue Task||30 minutes||0 - 6|
|Analytical Writing||One Argument task||30 minutes||0 - 6|
|Verbal Reasoning (Two sections)||20 Questions per section||30 minutes per section||130 - 170|
|Quantitative Reasoning (Two sections)||20 Questions per section||35 minutes per section||130 - 170|
* An unidentified experimental section may be included and may appear in any order after the Analytical Writing section. It is not counted as part of your score.
** An identified research section that is not scored may be included, and it is always at the end of the test.
This is the first section of the test.
Your critical thinking and writing skills are assessed in this section.
It consists of two writing tasks: analyze an issue task and analyze an argument task.
The time allocated for each task is 30 minutes.
For the issue task, a paragraph on a general topic is given. You are supposed to analyze the task from various perspectives and a response supported by valid reasons/examples must be provided.
For the argument task, you are supposed to read and critique an argument. You need to analyze the line of reasoning present in the argument and decide whether the argument is logically correct.
Each section in verbal reasoning measures your ability to understand what you read and how you apply your reasoning skills.
The types of questions that appear are
Quantitative reasoning measures your ability to comprehend, interpret, solve, and analyze quantitative information, using mathematical models.
It consists of two sections with four question types. The question types are
You will encounter either an Unidentified Experimental Section or a Research Section.
The ETS creates new questions for future purposes and there needs to be a mechanism to test these questions and classify them according to their level of difficulty. The simplest way to test these questions is by testing it on a group of test takers.
This section can be either verbal reasoning or quantitative reasoning section. It is not possible to figure out which is the experimental section. If you get three quant sections instead of two, it means one of the sections is experimental. The same applies to the verbal section. Therefore, you have to give importance to every section and answer it seriously.
The experimental section does not count toward a score and therefore, your performance in this section will not affect the difficulty level of the next section.
The Research Section is an identified, unscored section that appears at the end of the test. The scores of this section will not be counted toward the final score. It is up to you to decide whether you want to attempt this section since your scores will not be affected.
The Analytical Writing score is reported on a 0 – 6 score scale, in half-point increments.
The Verbal Reasoning score is reported on a 130 –170 score scale, in 1-point increments.
The Quantitative Reasoning score is reported on a 130–170 score scale, in 1-point increments.
Though there are two different tasks, a single combined score (ranging from 0 – 6 in half point increment) is reported for the Analytical Writing measure.
Initially, each essay is scrutinized and is scored by a trained reader and then an e-rater, an automated essay scoring program developed by ETS, which is capable of identifying various attributes related to writing proficiency, also scores the essay. If both the scores do not differ much from each other, the average of these scores is taken as the final score. Or else, a second human grader will score the essay and the average of the two human scores is taken as the final score.
Additionally, your essay will also be reviewed using essay-similarity-detection software. This is to ensure that the essay is not copied or taken from any other source. If any such discrepancies are found, the Analytical Writing scores will be cancelled. Therefore, you should never try to cram essays available through any resources.
The verbal and quantitative reasoning components of the test are section level adaptive. This means the computer selects the second section of a component based on your performance in the first section.
For each component, raw score (number of questions answered correctly) is calculated. This score is then converted to a scaled score by a process called as equating.