What Is the GRE Exam?

15 mins

The Graduate Record Examination, or GRE, is a significant stage in the admission process for graduate school or business school. The GRE is a computer-based, multiple-choice exam frequently needed for admission to graduate schools and graduate business programs (MBA) worldwide.

ETS created and administered the GRE to give graduate and management schools standardized criteria for assessing candidates' capabilities and readiness for graduate-level academic study.

Admissions committees at graduate and business schools use your GRE score, as well as your academic credentials and supporting papers, to determine your suitability for the rigors of graduate academic study.

The GRE Exam, administered by ETS, is among the most prominent graduate entrance examinations for applicants wishing to pursue MS or Graduate courses abroad.

The ETS GRE is given numerous times throughout the year, and applicants can take it in a recognized GRE test center or from the comfort of their own homes using the test's 'GRE at Home' option. To take the proctored GRE at home, students must have the pre-requisite system requirements and a test-friendly atmosphere.

GRE stands for Graduate Record Examination. Other than introducing the GRE test's home facility. ETS, the GRE test's governing body, has also permitted students qualified to take the GRE to utilize their Aadhar Cards as an element of their student ID beginning July 1, 2021, throughout the GRE registration procedure.

The GRE scores accessible 10 to 15 days after the GRE test schedule are approved at thousands of master's and Ph.D. programs worldwide. As per the authorized ETS GRE website, GRE results are accepted by business schools, universities, fellowship sponsors, and law schools worldwide.

Candidates would also have access to GRE test papers and a personalized GRE study strategy for novices intending to take the GRE 2022 in this post. Candidates who wish to take the GRE must pay the GRE cost of US $213. Candidates who choose to take the GRE Subject Test must pay a GRE Subject Test Fee of US $150.

History of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

The cooperation of four colleges and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching launched the GRE in 1936. The University of Wisconsin was the first public college to require students to take the GRE in 1938.

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) was founded in 1948 and is now in charge of GRE testing. Originally, the GRE included verbal and quantitative portions. After 2002, the analytical writing evaluation took the role of the analytics and logic portion.

In 2007, new questions were introduced, along with fill-in-the-blank type questions in the arithmetic portion, and in 2008, stylistic adjustments were made to the reading and comprehension questions.

The most significant modifications occurred in 2011, with a new format that included the current 130-170 score range, the elimination of specific question kinds, and the computer adaptive assessment adjustments based on segments rather than questions.

Despite its widespread use, several colleges have begun to phase out GRE requirements, citing claims that the examination is unfair and biased and does not accurately predict graduate student performance or future academic careers.

GRE Eligibility

ETS has not established any precise GRE qualifying requirements. Anyone, regardless of age or credentials, can register for the GRE. On the other hand, candidates who apply for master's programs must take the GRE.

The only further consideration for candidates is that they will be asked to provide their original passport as evidence of identification at the exam center. Thus applicants must have a valid ticket before registering for the GRE. During the GRE registration procedure, candidates can now use their Aadhar Card identification.

GRE Eligibility: Age Limit

There is no upper age limit for applicants who wish to take the GRE.

GRE Eligibility: Exam Qualification

ETS has not publicly announced the qualifications necessary to take the GRE Exam. Candidates must, however, have a university degree in any area from a recognized university.

GRE Exam Fees

GRE Exam Fees in India: For Indian students applying for the GRE General Test, the application price is $213. The GRE cost in Indian rupees is around Rs. 15,912.

The GRE Subject Test charges $150 internationally, costing Indian students around Rs. 11,205. In addition, candidates must pay an additional charge if they wish to modify the testing location or postpone the exam.

The credibility of the GRE Exam

Apart from being one of the most generally approved examinations by universities for admission to graduate programs, students interested in MS courses, MBA courses, professional degree programs, or thesis work must take the GRE General Test or GRE as part of the university admission process.

Aside from that, business schools have a rising tendency to recognize GRE results instead of the standard business school entry exam, the GMAT. There are also a few, but rising, law schools in the United States that consider the GRE a substitute for the LSAT, the traditional law school entry exam.

Many candidates are perplexed regarding the authenticity of their GRE scores. Candidates who have taken the GRE should be aware that the GRE grades are valid for five years from the exam date. As a result, any applicant who took the GRE on May 5, 2021, can report their results until May 5, 2026.

How to apply for the GRE online?

To register for the GRE online, candidates must complete the following procedures.

  • Candidates must register for an ETS profile on the online webpage: https://www.ets.org/mygre
  • Choose whether you wish to take the GRE General or GRE Subject Test.
  • Choose whether you want to take the GRE test in a recognized GRE Test Center or at home.
  • Choose a date for the GRE Exam and locate the nearest test center, or skip this step if taking the GRE at home.
  • Provide your academic information.
  • Proceed to pay the $213 registration cost.

Things To Remember Before Registering For The GRE

  • The information you supply on the ETS application must always correspond to the information in your passport. The name you submit should always match the name on your passport. If there are inconsistencies, the testing authority may refuse the candidate's entry into the testing center.
  • Determine whether the test-taking format is offered in your area and whether or not you are satisfied with it.
  • Also, before registering for the exam, thoroughly read the regulations.

Type of GRE Tests

The GRE General Test is a standardized test established and given by Educational Testing Service, sometimes known as ETS, to assess general intellectual preparedness for graduate school. Some graduate schools require applicants to take not just the regular GRE but also a GRE Subject Test, which measures technical knowledge in a specific area such as physics, psychology, or mathematics.

GRE topic tests are knowledge exams that measure a student's knowledge of a certain field of expertise, such as biology or psychology. Each is aimed at students who've already majored in or substantially studied the test topic in question. For example, a graduate school applicant may take a math subject test to demonstrate quantitative abilities to graduate schools in subjects where numerical proficiency is required, like computer science or economics.

According to the ETS website's "GRE Topic Tests" section, subject tests help grad school students "stand out from the other applicants" by proving their "skills and knowledge level" within a certain academic area. The following are the six areas where a topic test is available:

  • Biology.
  • Chemistry.
  • Literature in English.
  • Mathematics.
  • Physics.
  • Psychology.

For each topic test, ETS gives free digital practice books. The following is an overview of the information that should be understood and studied before attempting a GRE topic test.


It concentrates on three biology areas, each accounting for around one-third of the test questions: cellular and molecular biology, evolution and ecology, and organismal biology.


This test involves understanding all four main areas of chemistry and their relationships. Analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry are the primary areas, with a stronger emphasis on the latter two.

English Literature

The test requires you to demonstrate your literary analysis skills. To pass this test, you must also be able to recognize and properly identify literary works, contextualize a work of literature depending on its cultural or historical context, and grasp the history and philosophy of literary criticism.


Mathematics. The first half of this exam is devoted to calculus, while the second quarter is devoted to algebra and number theory.

The remaining questions address a variety of subjects that are generally covered in an undergraduate math program.


Questions on optics and wave phenomena, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, classical mechanics, electromagnetic, quantum mechanics, atomic physics, special relativity, and laboratory procedures are common in this test. It also contains questions on specialist physics areas like nuclear and particle physics. However, the particular topics covered vary depending on the test.


This test covers six areas of psychology: biological, cognitive, social, developmental, clinical, and issues like measurement and methodology.

GRE General Sections

On the GRE, you will obtain three scores:

  • Analytical Writing
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning

The following sections create these scores:

  • 1 section of Analytical Writing Assessment
  • Two sections of Verbal Reasoning
  • Three parts of Quantitative Reasoning

You will also notice one of the subsequent sections:

  • Unscored (may be either Verbal Reasoning or Quantitative Reasoning)
  • Research (used for ETS research purposes)

GRE Analytical Writing

The GRE analytical writing test consists of two different timed writing essays. When taking the GRE, you will complete these two essays before any quantitative or verbal parts. The two activities are as follows:

  • Analyze a Problem
  • Examine an Argument

While writing your GRE essay, begin with your thesis statement. You want to build your case around a convincing and logical flow of ideas, not on unnecessary details and context.

After going straight to the point, each phrase of your GRE composition must fit together like a jigsaw piece, providing a consistency between concepts and supporting the overall picture.

Remember that the GRE essay assessors aren't concerned with how beautifully you provide the framework for your topic. They're looking for a sensible essay, not a fancy one, and unnecessary words will cost you points. So, reserve the lyrical exposition for your novel and consider if you've effectively delivered your point in the first phrase or two.

GRE Verbal Section

Text Completion, Sentence Equivalence, and Reading Comprehension problems are included in each GRE Verbal section. There are about 20 questions to answer in 30 minutes, with 1 to 4 minutes for each question depending on the genre. Each Verbal section will begin with Text Completions, followed by a block of 4-5 Reading Comprehension questions, Sentence Equivalence questions, and the second block of Reading Comprehension.

There are various types of Verbal Reasoning questions:

Completion of Text

Text Completion (TC) questions need you to complete phrases by filling in the blanks. 1-, 2-, and 3-blank questions are examples of variations. You'll see roughly 6 of these in each Verbal session, and you should try to finish each one in about 1-1.5 minutes. To master these, you'll need to work on your grammar and improve your ability to forecast the gaps using context cues from the phrase. Unfortunately, there is no fractional credit: to gain points for these questions, you must answer properly for all blanks.

Sentence Equivalence

Sentence Equivalence (SE) questions ask you to fill in a single space with two options that result in two coherent phrases with logically equivalent meanings. Each Verbal part will have roughly four SE questions. Try to finish each in under a minute. To master SE questions, you'll need to concentrate on expanding your vocabulary and spotting context clues, just as you did with TC questions.

Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension (RC) questions focus on one or more paragraph excerpts that create an explanation or argument on a specific topic.

RC questions ask you to grasp the text's key concepts and organization, study the passage's specifics, and form reasonable inferences from them. Strategic scanning and paraphrasing are required for RC questions.

Each Verbal part will have about ten RC questions connected with five different readings, and you should plan to spend about 1-3 minutes reading each piece and 1 minute answering each question.

GRE Quantitative Test

Quantitative Comparison, Problem Solving, and Data Interpretation questions comprise the GRE Math (or Quantitative) portions. Students will get 35 minutes to complete each unit of Quantitative Reasoning.

Each section's 20 questions will be a mix of Quantitative Comparison, Problem Solving, and Data Interpretation problems, and you'll have 1.5 to 2 minutes to answer each. However, the question kinds are not evenly dispersed.

On the GRE, you will encounter Quantitative Comparison questions first, followed by Problem Solving problems. The Data Interpretation questions are offered as a set at the end of the Problem Solving questions.

Quantitative Reasoning questions appear in several formats:

Quantitative Comparison

Quantitative Comparison (QC) questions require you to compare two quantities—Quantity A and Quantity B—and determine their connection. There will likely be 7-8 of them in each Quant part. To grasp them, become acquainted with the QC response options and quick ways that enable you to assess rather than compute.

Problem Solving

The most frequent Problem Solving (PS) problems are multiple-choice, with five options and one right solution. Variants include questions in which you must choose one or more responses from a list of options (multiple-choice all-that-apply) and questions in which you must type your answer into a box (numeric entry.)

To ace PS problems, be acquainted with the arithmetic principles assessed and ways for approaching problem-solving efficiently.

There are also some Problem-Solving problems related, including one or even more charts (usually three per part). Such Data Interpretation (DI) questions function similarly to other PS Qs. However, it's vital to remember that accurately interpreting the information from graphs is the key to solving them.

Good GRE Score

Know the requirements and minimum standards, if relevant the bachelor's or business schools to which you're applying when determining your GRE score target. This will provide you with your score baseline.

You'll be able to calculate the GRE score that would make you a competitive applicant if you can uncover the average mean GRE score of approved applicants. The GRE Verbal and Quant portions are graded on a scale of 130 to 170.

The average score for Quantitative Reasoning is 153, and the average for Verbal Reasoning is 151. The Analytical Writing Assessment is assessed in half-point increments from 0 to 6, with a mean score of 4.0.

When are the GRE total scores available?

Your official GRE scores should be accessible in your GRE account 10-15 days following the test date. Within three weeks after your exam date, they will be forwarded to your chosen institutions.

Once the results are released, you will receive a confirmation email from ETS alerting you that your final GRE result is now available in your account. GRE at Home results will also be accessible to applicants 10-15 days after the GRE date.

Candidates should be aware that GRE raw results for the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning parts will be accessible immediately following the GRE test. The analytical writing portion, which employs human scoring, will be accessible during the official GRE score report.

The raw GRE results would indicate the candidates' performance on the exam. The raw and final scores are virtually similar. Candidates can cancel their scores if they are dissatisfied with their performance. There would be no formal scores recorded and given to institutions in this scenario.

How Admissions Use the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Professional and business schools commonly utilize the GRE General Test to screen applicants. Some colleges may demand GRE Subject Tests that assess knowledge in specific study subjects. Physics, psychology, biology, English literature, and chemistry are examples of such subjects.

It should be noted that GRE Subject Test focus themes are not always static; exams for topics like computer science and biochemistry have been introduced or withdrawn; however, past test scores remain reportable.

Business School Admissions

Most business schools recommend that students take the GMAT before enrolling in MBA programs. However, many will accept GRE results as an alternative.

In contrast to the GMAT, which concentrates on quantitative aptitude, the GRE assesses a test taker's language abilities. Nonetheless, the GRE is accepted as an entry exam for MBA programs at many business schools, including the top business schools in the United States.

Here are the 2019 average GRE results for the top 10 business schools in the United States to give you a clearer sense of what to expect.

  • University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) had a Mean GRE Verbal score of 162 and a Mean GRE Quant score of 162 as well in 2019
  • Stanford University had a Mean GRE Verbal score of 165 and a Mean GRE Quant score of 165 as well in 2019
  • Harvard University had a Mean GRE Verbal score of 163 and a Mean GRE Quant score of 163 as well in 2019
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan) had a Mean GRE Verbal score of 162 and a Mean GRE Quant score of 162 as well in 2019
  • University of California at Berkeley (Haas) had a Mean GRE Verbal score of 162 and a Mean GRE Quant score of 162 as well in 2019
  • Yale University had a Mean GRE Verbal score of 165 and a Mean GRE Quant score of 164 in 2019
  • Duke University (Fuqua) had a Mean GRE Verbal score of 160 and a Mean GRE Quant score of 159 in 2019

Signing Up and Preparing for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Individuals can register for the GRE on the ETS website. A free ETS account is required to take the computer exam, after which the test taker can sign up for a test day and center—though students should register at least two calendar days before the scheduled test date.

The test fee can be paid by credit or debit card, e-check, handwritten check, or PayPal.

In terms of GRE preparation, the ETS website provides a variety of tools, the majority of which are free. The ETS offers free practice examinations, evaluations of arithmetic abilities with definitions and examples, and instructional videos.

The ETS also provides paid content, such as additional practice exams. Sectional problems, such as verbal ability, can also be purchased. Furthermore, the program offers online writing practice capabilities that allow you to compose two essays and receive grades and feedback.

The GRE is a standardized test required by many colleges in the United States and Canada.

The exam tests your verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and critical thinking skills. It also tests your knowledge of vocabulary and your ability to read passages.

The GRE is important for getting into college because it helps you show what you are capable of in terms of academic skills. It also helps colleges assess the level of preparation that a student needs for their program.

The GRE is not an intelligence test; it does not measure how smart you are or how much you know. Instead, it measures your ability to think critically, solve problems, read carefully and express yourself clearly in writing.

Studying hard and focusing on your goal and determination are important to succeed in the GRE. All the best!

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