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The computer-based General Test is composed of Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Analytical Writing sections. In addition, one unidentified unscored section may be included, and this section can appear in any position in the test after the Analytical Writing Section. Questions in the unscored section are being tested for possible use in future tests, and answers will not count toward your scores.

In the graduate school admissions process, the level of emphasis that is placed upon GRE scores varies widely between schools and even departments within schools. The importance of a GRE score can range from being an important selection factor to being a mere admission formality.

In the graduate school admissions process, the level of emphasis that is placed upon GRE scores varies widely between schools and even departments within schools. The importance of a GRE score can range from being an important selection factor to being a mere admission formality.

In the United States, the cost of the general test is $140 US as of July 1, 2008, although ETS will reduce the fee under certain circumstances. Currently the GRE Scores are valid for 5 years.

Critics of the GRE have argued that the exam format is so rigid that it effectively tests only how well a student can conform to a standardized test taking procedure. ETS responded by announcing plans in 2006 to radically redesign the test structure starting in the fall of 2007; however, the company has since announced, "Plans for launching an entirely new test all at once were dropped, and ETS decided to introduce new question types and improvements gradually over time." The new questions have been gradually introduced since November of 2007.

In the United States, the cost of the general test is $140 US as of July 1, 2008, although ETS will reduce the fee under certain circumstances. Currently the GRE Scores are valid for 5 years.

Developed and administered by ETS, the GRE tests assess academic knowledge and skills relevant to graduate study and give you the information you need to carefully evaluate your applicants.

The GRE General Test the preferred admissions test for thousands of graduate programs worldwide

Taken by more than 550,000 students each year, and with score reports delivered to more than 3,100 graduate institutions annually, the GRE General Test:

measures the skills that faculty and graduate deans consider essential for graduate school success

provides the only common measures for comparing the qualifications of applicants from different educational backgrounds and countries of origin

furnishes independent information to supplement the evaluation of grades and recommendations

The GRE General and Subject tests

reliable, research-based predictors of graduate school success As confirmed by an independent study of 82,000 graduate students and a meta-analysis of more than 1,700 studies, the GRE tests provide a valid

predictor of graduate school performance in areas such as:

first-year graduate GPA

overall graduate GPA

comprehensive exam scores

publication citation counts

faculty ratings

The GRE General Test has also been proven to show better predictive validity than undergraduate grades and letters of recommendation, and correlates positively with degree attainment and research productivity.

The GRE General Test

The GRE General Test contains three sections that assess knowledge that has been acquired and developed over a long time.

Verbal Reasoning:

  Assesses the ability to analyze and evaluate written material and synthesize information obtained from it, analyze relationships among component parts of sentences, and recognize relationships between words and concepts. Content is balanced among the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.

Quantitative Reasoning:

Tests basic mathematical skills and understanding of elementary mathematical concepts, as well as the ability to reason quantitatively and solve problems in a quantitative setting. Content is

balanced among questions requiring arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis.

Analytical Writing:

Tests critical thinking and analytical writing skills, as well as the ability to articulate and

support complex ideas, analyze an argument and sustain a focused and coherent discussion.

Experimental section:

The experimental section will be either a verbal, quantitative or the essay section which contains new questions that ETS is considering for future test editions. This section will not count toward the test-taker's score; however, the section will appear identical to either the "actual" verbal or quantitative section and will likewise be a multiple-choice test with the same number of questions and the same time allotment as the "real" verbal or quantitative section. The test taker will have no way of knowing which section is experimental, so the test taker is forced to complete this section.

If the experimental section appears as an analytical writing question (essay), if an "issue" type question is presented, a choice between two topics will not be given. This coupled with the fact that the true analytical writing section is the first test given can help the test-taker to deduce which is the experimental section and the taker can thus lower the importance of that section.

 Research Section:

An additional research section may appear at the end of the test. Unlike the experimental section, this section will be clearly marked and will be completely optional. The test taker's participation or refusal to participate will not affect the reported score in any way.

The Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections of the General Test are adaptive tests. They are tailored to your performance level and provide precise information about your abilities using fewer test questions than traditional paper-based tests.

At the start of the test, you are presented with test questions of middle difficulty. As you answer each question, the computer scores it and uses that information, as well as your responses to preceding questions and information about the test design, to determine the next question. As long as you answer correctly, you will typically be given questions of increased difficulty. When you respond incorrectly, you will typically be given less difficult questions.

Because the computer scores each question before selecting the next one, you must answer each question when it is presented. For this reason, once you answer a question and move on to another, you cannot go back and change your answer. The computer has already incorporated both your answer and the requirements of the test design into its selection of your next question.

On the Analytical Writing section, the two writing tasks are delivered on the computer, and you must type your essay responses.

For the Issue task you will be able to choose one of two essay topics selected by the computer from the pool of topics.

The Argument task does not offer a choice of topics; the computer will present you with a single topic selected from the topic pool.

The testing software uses an elementary word processor developed by ETS so that individuals familiar with a specific commercial word processing software do not have an advantage or disadvantage. The software contains the following functionalities: inserting text, deleting text, cut and paste, undoing the previous action, and scrolling.

The GRE Subject Tests

Each Subject Test deals with content emphasized in undergraduate programs as preparation for graduate

study in the field. Tests are offered in eight fields of study:

Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology



Computer Science

Literature in English




Use in admissions

Many graduate schools in English-speaking countries (especially in the United States) require GRE test results as part of the admission procedure. The GRE test is a standardized test intended to measure the abilities of all graduates in tasks of general academic nature, regardless of their fields of specialization. The GRE is supposed to measure the extent to which undergraduate education has developed an individual's verbal and quantitative skills in abstract thinking.

Unlike other standardized admissions tests (such as the SAT, LSAT, and MCAT), the use and weight of GRE scores vary considerably not only from school to school, but from department to department, and from program to program too. Programs in liberal arts topics may only consider the applicant's verbal score to be of interest, while math and science programs may only consider quantitative ability; however, since most applicants to math, science, or engineering graduate programs all have high quantitative scores, the verbal score can become a deciding factor even in these programs. Some schools use the GRE in admissions decisions, but not in funding decisions; others use the GRE for the selection of scholarship and fellowship candidates, but not for admissions. In some cases, the GRE may be a general requirement for graduate admissions imposed by the university, while particular departments may not consider the scores at all. Graduate schools will typically provide information about how the GRE is considered in admissions and funding decisions, and the average scores of previously admitted students. The best way to find out how a particular school or program evaluates a GRE score in the admissions process is to contact the person in charge of graduate admissions for the specific program in question (and not the graduate school in general).

Programs that involve significant expository writing require the submission of a prepared writing sample that is considered more useful in determining writing ability than the analytical writing section; however, the writing scores of foreign students are sometimes given more scrutiny and are used as an indicator of overall comfort with and mastery of conversational English.

The Triple Nine Society uses the GRE from certain years as an admission test into their society. A score of at least 1460 earned on a test before June 1994 and a score of at least 2180 on a test from June 1994 to September 2001 is accepted for admission into the society.