Graduate School Admissions Exams Explained

Students from all over the world appear for GRE if they are planning to apply for graduate studies. The GRE score provides a common measure to evaluate students for admission, fellowships, and recommendations, and acts as a supplement to their undergraduate scores. You may need to appear for just the GRE general test or both the GRE general and subject test, as required by the college you are applying to. You need to find out the specific requirements for your college. However, a high GRE score betters your chances of financial aid. The subject tests are held thrice every year: October, November, and April. For further information read Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) for further information regarding admissions into a graduate school.

What is the GRE?
The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) is a general test and serves as an admission test for graduate school applicants. It is a computer-adaptive test and comprises three sections: two essays (analysis of an argument and an issue), a multiple-choice mathematic section (28 questions on problem solving and quantitative comparison), and a multiple-choice verbal section (30 questions on sentence completion, antonyms, analogies and comprehension). The time given for each section is 75 minutes, 45 minutes and 30 minutes, respectively. The essays are the first assignment that you have to complete. The issue-based essay has to be completed in 45 minutes, while 30 minutes are given for the analysis of the argument.

Apart from this general test, there is also a GRE subject test (12 subjects are included in this) for determining specific subject-based knowledge. GRE has two versions: the paper-based exam and the computer-based exam. Though the exam is held a few times over the year you can appear for it not more than once a month and not more than five times in a year. You get an unofficial score as soon as you complete your exam, and the official scores are sent to you after two weeks.

Preparing for the GRE
There are many online resources available for GRE preparation. If you are taking the test in spring or summer, then you will have some time left for a re-test (in fall), in case you need it. To prepare, you will have to buy a good study guide or join a good prep course. Before you do either or both of these, check out the free GRE prep material comprising free software, interactive online questions, relevant information on a computer-adaptive test and important tips available here: TestPrep.com.

For a list of GRE books go to AdmissionSuccess.com. The GRE official site at GRE.org has programs that are either free or can be bought for a minimal cost. You can also submit your practice essays at the site for scoring and feedback. Other sites that you can visit for more resources are:


Registering for GRE
The best way to register is to go to the GRE official site and register online (web address above). You can also call 1-800-GRE-CALL for registration. During registration take care to see that the spelling of your name is written as it appears in all your accompanying documents. Failing to meet this will result in not getting the permission to sit for the test and your test fee will obviously be forfeited.

GRE Explained - Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing
The computer-adaptive test starts with a question of medium difficulty level and a score of 500. If you answer the question correctly, the system throws up a question of higher difficulty and your score increases upwards of 500. The opposite happens when you answer incorrectly. You get to answer a question of a lower level and your score decreases accordingly. This process goes on till you finish the entire section. Your answers are weighted and you are given the final score.

Each multiple-choice section is graded on a scale of 200 to 800. The average scores for the verbal section are about 470 and for the quantitative section are 570. The analytical writing is evaluated on a scale of 0 to 6. The subject tests are also on a scale of 200 to 800 points.

Your GRE score is important as some schools consider it the most important evaluator of your abilities. However, even if there are schools that give it less importance, your GRE score makes it easier for you to get financial aid.

The following sites will give you a better idea about the GRE exams:


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