What is GRE?

    Updated on: 11 Aug 2022

    Anybody who dreams of studying in a graduate school abroad, especially an MS STEM degree, has to sit for a standardised test. As a student visa, the score of a standardised test is mandatory for admission to most of the universities. There are a few tests which are commonly required for admission to certain degrees in universities abroad: one of them is the GRE General Test.

    What is the GRE Exam?

    The Graduate Record Examination or GRE is one of the largest assessment tests for admission to graduate degrees abroad. The test measures the quantitative, analytical, and verbal skills of the test-takers. The admission panels of universities utilise GRE scores to evaluate and assess if a student will successfully complete a particular course or not.
    The GRE exam eligibility is not limited by age or qualification. However, different universities have their own eligibility criteria related to the GRE. Therefore, students should check the specific GRE criteria set by their target universities for the desired courses.

    What are the Types of GRE?

    There are 2 kinds of GRE Tests.

    1. GRE General Test gauges a student’s ability on the basis of his/her verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing skills. The score is used for determining students’ admissions to masters programs including MS and MBA, Joint Law Degree Programs, and doctoral degrees. 
    2. GRE Subject Test measures a student’s knowledge in 6 particular fields - Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Psychology, Mathematics, and Literature in English. This test is paper-based and conducted only 3 times a year worldwide. A student may use the scores of this test to show their aptitude in a particular subject. 

    In this article, we keep the focus on just the GRE General Test.

    Who Conducts the GRE?

    The Educational Testing Service (ETS) administers the GRE. The test’s policies and guidelines are set by an autonomous GRE Board that is affiliated to the Association of Graduate Schools (AGS) and the Council of Graduate School (CGS).

    Which Countries and Courses Require GRE?

    Universities worldwide accept GRE. The GRE score is valid for most of the top grad schools in the US, Canada, Australia, and Europe. The current list includes more than 1300 schools like Stanford, MIT, NEU, etc, which accept GRE scores for admission to MS, MBA, PhD, and so on. 

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    How Much is the GRE Exam Fees?

    The GRE Exam Fee in India is USD 205. Late registration, changing the test centre, or rescheduling the test requires additional fees. 


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    What are the GRE Dates and Test Centres?

    GRE is a computer-based test, though the paper-based option is also available in some parts of the world. The exam is available on a continuous basis throughout the year in over 1000 centres located in more than 160 countries. In India, the GRE test is available in several cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Trivandrum, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Ahmedabad. To find a GRE test centre and date near you, use this link.
    You are allowed to take the computer-delivered GRE General Test once every 21 days, up to five times within any continuous rolling 12-month period (365 days). This applies even if you cancelled your scores on a test taken previously. You may take the paper-delivered GRE General Test as often as it is offered.

    Why is GRE Conducted?

    To colleges, GRE is beneficial because students who apply to graduate schools come from varied backgrounds. The GRE score percentiles give the universities a common measure to compare them.
    To students, attempting the GRE is advantageous because premier universities generally keep a high GRE minimum score criteria. Therefore, a great score increases a student’s chances of being accepted by the best colleges in the world like Harvard. Besides getting enrolled in an Ivy League school, a GRE score takes you one step closer to a fellowship or scholarship
    This article on the official GRE website further clarifies why GRE is helpful to students. 

    Explore STEM Courses Click Here

    What is the Average GRE Score Accepted by Top Universities?

    Listed below are the GRE Minimum Score criteria of top universities for MS in Engineering and B-schools.

    Ideal GRE Scores for MS in Engineering for Top US Universities

      S.no.

    Universities

      Average Verbal Scores  

      Average Quantitative Scores  

      Total Score  

    1

      Massachusetts Institute of Technology  

    162

    167

    329

    2

    Harvard

    160

    167

    327

    3

    Stanford

    159

    167

    326

    4

    Princeton

    162

    166

    328

    5

    Yale

    155

    170

    325

    6

    University of California-Berkeley

    157

    165

    322

    7

    University of Pennsylvania

    155

    166

    321

    8

    Carnegie Mellon University

    154

    161

    315

    9

    UCLA

    154

    165

    319

    10

    Cornell

    154

    166

    320

     

    Top B-Schools and their GRE Score Criteria

    Universities

    2018

      Average Quant Score  

      2018

      Average Verbal Score  

      2018

      Average Total  

      2018

      Average Writing Score  

    Stanford

      165  

    165

    330

    4.9

    UC-Berkeley

    164

    165

    329

    4.8

    Harvard

    163

    165

    328

    NA

    Yale

    163

    165

    328

    4.9

    Virginia (Darden)

    164

    164

    328

    4

      University of California, Los Angeles  

    163

    163

    326

    4.6

    NYU

    161

    163

    324

    4.5

    University of California, Davis

    161

    162

    323

    NA

    Georgia Tech

    162

    159

    321

    NA

    Cornell

    160

    160

    320

    4.4

    For a further breakdown of universities in the US that dote on GRE scores swings by the linked article.

    What is the GRE Exam Pattern?

    The computer-based GRE exam format has six sections, classified into three measures.  There is a 10-min break following the third section.

    GRE Test Pattern

     S.No. 

    Measures

    Number of Questions

    Allotted Time

    1

    Analytical Writing

      (one section with two separately timed tasks)  

      One "Analyse an issue" task and one "Analyse an Argument" task  

    30 min per task

    2

    Verbal Reasoning

    (Two sections)

    20 questions per section

    30 min per section

    3

    Quantitative Reasoning

    (Two Sections)

    20 questions per section

      35 min per section  

    4

    Unscored

    Varies

    Varies

    5

    Research

    Varies

    Varies

    The unscored and research sections have questions either from the verbal or math segment. They are not scored. They are not timed. But you do not know which section is unscored and which is for research because GRE doesn’t announce the order. Therefore, test-takers should treat every question as if it counts towards their scores. 

    The test always starts with the analytical writing section, while the unscored/research sections and verbal and reasoning sections can appear in any order in the test after the analytical writing section. 
    The actual test is 3 hours 45 minutes long. Do note that the paper-delivered GRE test has a slightly different format and is only 3 hours 30 minutes long.
    The GRE computer test is the only standard graduate admission test that allows you to:

    • Skip a question, as long as you are in the same section.
    • Go back and change the answer to a question.

    Moreover, the computer-based GRE adapts to the capability of the student when sections change. For instance, if you get a low score in the Verbal Reasoning measure, the next segment will be easier. 

    What is the GRE Syllabus?

    The three sections of the GRE Exam Syllabus test you on the following:

    1. Analytical Writing: You don’t need specific content knowledge for this section. It tests your ability to critically analyse an issue and how well you articulate those thoughts. Here’s how you can ace it!
    2. Verbal: Reading Comprehension, Text Completion and Sentence equivalence are the three segments of verbal reasoning. Here are a few tips on GRE prep for the verbal reasoning section.
    3. Quant: The quantitative reasoning measure of GRE has an extensive syllabus that tests the basic concepts of algebra, arithmetic, geometry, and data analysis.

    Do give this blog a read to get an idea of the type of questions asked in each section. For help in GRE preparation, read this post and give this ppt a watch.

    How is GRE Scored?

    The measures of the GRE General Test are scored separately. They are not combined to make a composite score. 
     

    GRE Scoring Scales

    Measures

    Score Scales

    Verbal Reasoning

    130–170, in 1-point increments

      Quantitative Reasoning  

      130–170, in 1-point increments  

    Analytical Writing

    0–6, in half-point increments

     

    Each question has to be answered correctly to gain marks. Let’s say a question has multiple answers, you will receive credit for it only if all the selections are correct. There is however no negative marking, meaning you would not lose a mark if you answered a question wrong. 0 mark is given for an unattempted question. 

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    For How Long is the GRE Score Valid?

    The GRE score validity is for five years. If you have attempted the GRE more than once, all your scores are valid. You can decide which scores to send your preferred university through ScoreSelect®. We’ll be talking about sending your scores to colleges in another article in the coming weeks.
    Note - GRE scores earned in July 2014 are reportable until June 30, 2020.

    A Good GRE Score is Crucial to Your Dreams

    On average, universities abroad look for a GRE score range of 149-170 in the verbal and quantitative sections. For the AWA section, the ideal score falls between 3.5 and 5.5. If your vision is to get into one of the top graduate schools in the world, then target at least 151 in verbal and quant measures and 5.5 in the analytical writing section. If you are looking for scholarships, then a 160 in both verbal and quantitative sections and 5 in the writing section is necessary. 

    There is no fixed ideal GRE score. It changes from year to year, college to college, and even subject to subject. For example, if you have a 163 score in both the sections in GRE and are looking for a university in the US for an MS in Computer Science, you will easily match the TOEFL cutoff of universities like Stanford.  Moreover, Ivy-League universities don’t just look at your GRE scores; they evaluate your application as a whole. 

    In a gist, prepare and aim for a solid GRE score but don’t hinge your college application on the score alone.  
    Don’t forget to get in touch with GyanDhan if you need help in GRE prep. You could go through our overall preparation guide for GRE here. For section-wise prep guide by GyanDhan, check out the following:

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