The GRE Revised General Test (Computer-Based Version)
What is the GRE? What does “GRE” stand for?
The GRE (Graduate Readiness Exam) Revised General Test is an essay-based and multiple-choice standardized exam given by ETS (Educational Testing Service). The test consists of questions that ask students to demonstrate the types of critical thinking skills required in graduate programs or business programs in order to measure test-takers’ relative readiness for these types of advanced programs. Applications to these types of programs typically include GRE scores as a required element. Some students choose to take the GRE before they graduate from college, but others elect to take the test long after they have graduated. Whether you need top GRE tutors in Atlanta, GRE tutors in Houston, or top GRE tutors in San Francisco, working with a pro may take your studies to the next level.
What does the GRE test? What sections are on the GRE?
The GRE Revised General Test aims to measure students’ potentials for success in graduate programs or business programs by measuring their abilities to reason quantitatively and verbally, as well as write analytically. Each of these skills is tested on a section of the GRE. Note that the GRE Subject Tests are very different from the GRE Revised General Test; whereas the Revised General Test is meant to be a general examination, each GRE Subject Test is a rigorous examination of a test-taker’s knowledge of one specific subject area, e.g. Psychology, Mathematics, or Biology.
In what order does the GRE present its sections? Is this order consistent?
Every GRE Revised General Test begins with the test-taker responding to the two prompts contained in the Analytical Writing section. The first prompt asks the test-taker to analyze an issue, while the second asks him or her to analyze an argument. After this, the test-taker takes two Verbal Reasoning sections, and then two Quantitative Reasoning sections. Your GRE could also include an unscored Quantitative Reasoning or Verbal Reasoning section after the Analytical Writing portion of the exam or conclude the exam with a Research section.
Is the GRE paper-based or taken on a computer?
The GRE Revised General Test is currently offered in paper-based and computer-based formats. At certain testing international locations, the paper-based version of the exam is the only option available, but most of the testing centers that offer the GRE Revised General Test in the United States offer the computer-based version of the test, and test-takers may not take the paper-based version where the computer-based version is available.
When did the GRE change? How did the GRE change?
The GRE Revised General Test replaced the GRE General Test in August of 2011. The new version of the exam differs from the older version in these ways:
Scoring Scale: The GRE General Test previously employed a scale of 200–800 for scores, which was measured in increments of ten points, but the GRE Revised General Test employs a scale of 130–170, measured in increments of one point.
Question Types on the Verbal Reasoning Section: The GRE General Test previously employed question types which have since been removed from the GRE Revised General Test. The older version of the GRE employed a Verbal Reasoning section that consisted of Antonym questions, Analogy questions, and Sentence Completion questions, whereas the Verbal Reasoning section on the new GRE Revised General Test is made up of Reading Comprehension questions, Text Completion questions, and Sentence Equivalence questions. In short, the new version of the GRE does not use Antonym questions and Analogy questions on its Verbal Reasoning section; in addition, it uses Sentence Equivalence questions instead of Sentence Completion questions.
Adaptivity: The older version of the GRE was an adaptive test that adjusted the difficulty of the questions it included based on whether a test-taker submitted correct or incorrect answers to the questions it asked. On the previous version of the GRE, you could not skip questions and answer them later, or review questions before submitting your exam; once you answered a question, your answer could not be changed. In contrast to the older version of the GRE, the current GRE Revised General Test is NOT an adaptive exam. When taking the new version of the GRE, you are allowed to skip questions and come back to them later, or change the answer you marked for a question before submitting your work for the entire section. The new version of the GRE even lets you flag questions you want to look over later. Instead of adjusting the difficulty of the exam based on the answers you submit on a question-by-question basis, it adjusts exam difficulty in a section-by-section basis.
Calculator Policy: The older version of the GRE forbid test-takers to use calculators, but the revised GRE’s Quantitative Reasoning section includes a simple calculator as part of the online interface for test-takers’ use.
Do I get to take a break when taking the GRE?
Yes, you do get to take a break when taking the GRE Revised General Test. Test-takers are given ten minutes to rest after the third section, and a one-minute break between the test’s other sections.
How long does the GRE last?
The current version of the GRE spans for about three-and-a-half hours; this estimate includes both the test’s sections and the included breaks. The estimate does not, however, include any time you spend checking in at your testing center. In addition, the actual amount of time you need to complete the exam will be affected by whether you are asked to complete an unscored Quantitative Reasoning section, an unscored Verbal Reasoning section, or a Research section.
How much does taking the GRE cost?
Registration for the GRE Revised General Test currently costs $185.00. You may be charged additional fees if you register late or need to be on a standby list for the paper-based version of the exam. Changing the test center at which you wish to take your test or rescheduling your test date at the test center you initially selected also come with fees. ETS offers GRE Fee Reduction Certificates to test-takers who can demonstrate financial need, but the number of these certificates is limited.
When is the GRE given?
There is no specific test date on which the GRE is given; the test is offered on a continuous rolling basis year-round. Test-takers need to register at least three days before their test dates, and certain dates may fill up more quickly than others, so it is advisable to register early if you have a specific date on which you need or want to test.
How can I study for the GRE?
Varsity Tutors offers a suite of fantastic free resources to assist anyone in reviewing for his or her GRE. A good first step to take is to register for a free Learning Tools account; through it, you can revisit your performance reports and track your improvement over time. Our GRE Verbal and GRE Quantitative Diagnostic tests present you with content drawn from each area covered on that section of the exam, helping you to come up with a study plan focused on augmenting your understanding of any topics you don’t fully understand. Varsity Tutors also offers resources like a free GRE flashcards to help with your self-paced study, or you may want to consider a GRE tutor. Our free GRE Verbal and GRE Quantitative Practice Tests and Flashcards can help you drill these topics in a focused manner.
If you know which topics you need to work on and they’re just not making sense, our GRE Help pages can assist you in understanding them. Clicking on a subject takes you to a page where you can select whichever topic you are struggling with. This will lead you to practice questions that include the correct answer and a full explanation of the logic and reasoning used to arrive at it. You can build up your skills and confidence by first reading through questions as models, and then attempting some questions on your own, knowing that you can identify any missteps you make using the questions’ explanations. In addition to the GRE help section and GRE tutoring, you may also want to consider taking some of our GRE practice tests. Try Varsity Tutors’ free GRE resources today to start focusing your review on the areas in which you can most improve!
On Test Day
What do I need to bring with me when taking the GRE?
Testing centers at which the GRE Revised General Test is given are subject to tight regulation. The only thing that you need to bring with you on your test date is a form of identification accepted by ETS. Anything else that you bring will need to be stored in a locker outside the testing area. The materials that you need while testing—paper, pencils, and noise-canceling headphones—will all be provided for you.
What should I not bring with me when taking the GRE?
On the day you take the GRE, you should NOT bring your cell phone, smartphone, digital watch, PDA, or other electronic recording, photographing, or listening device. If you do bring such a device, you will be dismissed from testing, your registration fees will not be returned to you, and ETS will cancel your scores, even if your dismissal is not enforced on your test date.
During the Quantitative Reasoning sections, a digital calculator is provided on-screen for your use, so you do not need to bring a calculator.
Should I guess on the GRE? Can guessing decrease my score?
You should feel free to guess on the GRE even if you are not sure of your answer, as guessing cannot decrease your score. Your scores for GRE’s multiple-choice sections, Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning, are determined by your number of correctly-answered questions. There is no guessing penalty, so you should not skip questions for fear of reducing your score on a section. When guessing, it is advisable to whittle down the answer choices that can be potentially correct as much as possible, as every answer choice you can ignore increases the odds of you getting the question right when guessing.
How long after I take the GRE will I have to wait before I can see my GRE scores?
When taking the computer-based GRE Revised General Test, your Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning scores are presented to you at the end of the test so long as you do not elect to cancel them. If you choose to cancel your scores, you do not get to see them first. Your score on the Analytical Writing section is made available online after ten to fifteen days after the day on which you tested.
Is it possible to cancel my GRE scores?
The option of canceling your GRE scores is presented to you on the day of your exam, after you have completed it. ETS allows test-takers to report only their best scores to schools, so even if you get a bad score, your school need never see it. Many students believe themselves to have performed much more poorly on the exam than they actually did, so it is recommended that you only cancel your scores in extreme circumstances.
After Test Day
How soon after I take the GRE will my scores be reported to schools?
Scores will be reported about ten to fifteen days after you take the computer-based GRE. Schools may take additional time to process your scores after receiving them, so it is best to test and send your scores well ahead of any application deadlines.
Can I send my GRE scores to schools after my GRE test date?
Yes! You can do so online through the official GRE website. There is $25.00 fee per school.
I’ve retaken the GRE and gotten better scores. Can I send just those scores to colleges?
Yes! ETS’s new “ScoreSelect” option lets you choose to send scores from a particular GRE test date while refraining from sending scores from previous test dates. On the day you take the GRE, you can elect to send scores from all of your test dates to your selected schools, or, by selecting the “Most Recent” option, you can have ETS send just the scores you receive for the test you take on that day. When having scores sent after your test dates, you can choose to have all of them sent, a single test date’s scores sent, or a combination of different test dates’ scores earned from test dates from the past five years sent to schools.
One rule to keep in mind regarding selecting scores to send is that you have to send all of the scores you receive on a certain test date if you want to send any of them; in other words, you cannot “mix and match” section scores from different test dates. As an example, say a student takes the GRE and scores a perfect 170 on the Verbal Reasoning section and a 160 on the Quantitative Reasoning section. The student then retakes the GRE and scores a 160 on the Verbal Reasoning section and a perfect 170 on the Quantitative Reasoning section. When choosing which scores to send to schools, this student could not send each of his or her perfect scores without also sending the 160 he or she received for the other section on each test date. Scores have to be sent as a combination of Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Analytical Writing scores earned on a given test date.
Can I retake the GRE? Should I retake the GRE?
You can retake the GRE, and you don’t even have to risk having to reveal lower scores to the schools you select. ETS’s “ScoreSelect” option lets you choose which test dates’ scores to send to colleges, allowing you to keep certain test dates’ scores hidden. If you believe that further preparation could help you bolster your GRE scores, you may want to retake the test, as retesting does not pose any harm to your applications, even if you earn lower scores in both multiple-choice sections.
How often can I take the GRE? How long do I have to wait before retaking the GRE?
You can take the computer-based GRE every twenty-one days, up to a maximum of five times within any continuous 12-month period. If you cancel the scores you earned on any or all of these given test dates, this limit still applies. These limits are specific to the computer-based GRE and do not apply to the paper-based version of the test; you can take the paper-based GRE as often as it is given.