GRE, Graduate Record Examination, is a computer-based exam that measures the Verbal, Mathematical, and Analytical skills of students who aspire to undergo their graduate studies abroad (of all fields other than business). Most of the universities of the USA, Canada, etc. ask for GRE scores while inviting applications for various courses that they offer. GRE score alone is not sufficient to get admission into the college an aspirant desires. Admissions officers consider many other factors, including your undergraduate GPA, work and research experience, personal statement, letters of recommendation, and interviews while considering your application, thereby making it a very long admission process.
The US-based "Educational Testing Service" (ETS), which works under the direction of the Graduate Record Examination Board, develops and administers the GRE. ETS is responsible for setting questions, conducting the test, and sending score reports to each examinee. The GRE test has three parts - Quantitative, Verbal, and Analytical Writing Assessment.
Eligibility and Registration:
Anybody can take the GRE exam irrespective of their educational qualification. But you have to be a graduate to start your Master’s Program.
The registration can be done at www.gre.org. The registration fee for taking GRE is USD 205. After the test, the test takers are asked to submit the names of 4 colleges that they would like to send their scores to. This facility is part of the USD 205 fee that is charged for the test.
No. Of attempts:
GRE can be taken an unlimited number of times with a gap of a minimum of 21 calendar days between 2 tests. However, one can give the test only 5 times in a calendar year. Your GRE score will be valid for 5 years from the date the test was taken.
The exam can be given year-round on most weekdays and weekends and is about 3 hours 45 minutes long and has a maximum score of 340.
GRE Exam Pattern:
The Verbal Reasoning section measures your ability to:
analyse and draw conclusions from discourse; reason from incomplete data; identify author's assumptions and/or perspective; understand multiple levels of meaning, such as literal, figurative and author's intent
select important points; distinguish major from minor or irrelevant points; summarize text; understand the structure of a text
understand the meanings of words, sentences and entire texts; understand relationships among words and among concepts
Topics covered in Verbal Reasoning:
Basic Sentence structure: Nouns, Pronouns, Adjectives
Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
Reading Comprehension Questions:
Reading Comprehension questions are designed to test a wide range of abilities that are required in order to read and understand the kinds of prose commonly encountered in graduate school. Those abilities include:
understanding the meaning of individual words and sentences
understanding the meaning of paragraphs and larger bodies of text
distinguishing between minor and major points
summarizing a passage
drawing conclusions from the information provided
reasoning from incomplete data to infer missing information
understanding the structure of a text in terms of how the parts relate to one another
identifying the author's assumptions and perspective
analyzing a text and reaching conclusions about it
identifying strengths and weaknesses of a position
developing and considering alternative explanations
As this list implies, reading and understanding a piece of text requires far more than a passive understanding of the words and sentences it contains; it requires active engagement with the text, asking questions, formulating and evaluating hypotheses and reflecting on the relationship of the particular text to other texts and information.
Each Reading Comprehension question is based on a passage that may range in length from one paragraph to several paragraphs. The test contains approximately 10 passages, the majority of which are one paragraph in length and only one or two of which are several paragraphs long. Passages are drawn from the physical sciences, biological sciences, social sciences, business, arts and humanities and everyday topics and are based on material found in books and periodicals, both academic and non-academic.
Typically, about half of the questions on the test will be based on passages, and the number of questions based on a given passage can range from one to six. Questions can cover any of the topics listed above, from the meaning of a particular word to assessing evidence that might support or weaken points made in the passage. Many, but not all, of the questions are standard multiple-choice questions, in which you are required to select a single correct answer; others ask you to select multiple correct answers; and still others ask you to select a sentence from the passage.
Text Completion Questions:
Skilled readers do not simply absorb the information presented on the page; instead, they maintain a constant attitude of interpretation and evaluation, reasoning from what they have read so far to create a picture of the whole and revising that picture as they go. Text Completion questions test this ability by omitting crucial words from short passages and asking the test taker to use the remaining information in the passage as a basis for selecting words or short phrases to fill the blanks and create a coherent, meaningful whole.
Passage composed of one to five sentences
One to three blanks
Three answer choices per blank (five answer choices in the case of a single blank)
The answer choices for different blanks function independently; i.e., selecting one answer choice for one blank does not affect what answer choices you can select for another blank
Single correct answer, consisting of one choice for each blank; no credit for partially correct answer
Tips for Answering:
Do not merely try to consider each possible combination of answers; doing so will take too long and is open to error. Instead, try to analyse the passage in the following way:
Read through the passage to get an overall sense of it.
Identify words or phrases that seem particularly significant, either because they emphasize the structure of the passage (words like although or moreover) or because they are central to understanding what the passage is about.
Try to fill in the blanks with words or phrases that seem to complete the sentence, then see if similar words are offered among the answer choices.
Do not assume that the first blank is the one that should be filled first; perhaps one of the other blanks is easier to fill first. Select your choice for that blank, and then see whether you can complete another blank. If none of the choices for the other blank seem to make sense, go back and reconsider your first selection.
When you have made your selection for each blank, check to make sure the passage is logically, grammatically and stylistically coherent.
Sentence equivalence questions:
Like Text Completion questions, Sentence Equivalence questions test the ability to reach a conclusion about how a passage should be completed on the basis of partial information, but to a greater extent they focus on the meaning of the completed whole. Sentence Equivalence questions consist of a single sentence with just one blank, and they ask you to find two choices that lead to a complete, coherent sentence while producing sentences that mean the same thing.
Tips for Answering:
Do not simply look among the answer choices for two words that mean the same thing. This can be misleading for two reasons. First, the answer choices may contain pairs of words that mean the same thing but do not fit coherently into the sentence. Second, the pair of words that do constitute the correct answer may not mean exactly the same thing, since all that matters is that the resultant sentences mean the same thing.
Read the sentence to get an overall sense of it.
Identify words or phrases that seem particularly significant, either because they emphasize the structure of the sentence (words like although or moreover) or because they are central to understanding what the sentence is about.
Try to fill in the blank with a word that seems appropriate to you and then see if two similar words are offered among the answer choices. If you find some word that is similar to what you are expecting but cannot find a second one, do not become fixated on your interpretation; instead, see whether there are other words among the answer choices that can be used to fill the blank coherently.
When you have selected your pair of answer choices, check to make sure that each one produces a sentence that is logically, grammatically and stylistically coherent, and that the two sentences mean the same thing.
The Quantitative Reasoning section measures your ability to:
understand, interpret and analyse quantitative information
solve problems using mathematical models
apply basic skills and elementary concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis
The Quantitative Reasoning section includes an on-screen calculator. If you are taking the paper-delivered test, a calculator will be provided at the test center.
Topics covered in Quantitative Reasoning:
The Analytical Writing section measures your ability to:
articulate complex ideas clearly and effectively
support ideas with relevant reasons and examples
examine claims and accompanying evidence
sustain a well-focused, coherent discussion
control the elements of standard written English
The Analytical Writing section requires you to provide focused responses based on the tasks presented, so you can accurately demonstrate your skill in directly responding to a task.
Overview of the Analytical Writing Measure:
The Analytical Writing measure tests your critical thinking and analytical writing skills. It assesses your ability to articulate and support complex ideas, construct and evaluate arguments, and sustain a focused and coherent discussion. It does not assess specific content knowledge.
The Analytical Writing measure consists of two separately timed analytical writing tasks:
The Issue task presents an opinion on an issue of general interest followed by specific instructions on how to respond to that issue. You are required to evaluate the issue, consider its complexities and develop an argument with reasons and examples to support your views.
The Argument task requires you to evaluate a given argument according to specific instructions. You will need to consider the logical soundness of the argument rather than agree or disagree with the position it presents.
The two tasks are complementary in that one requires you to construct your own argument by taking a position and providing evidence supporting your views on an issue, and the other requires you to evaluate someone else's argument by assessing its claims and evaluating the evidence it provides.
Individuals taking the computer-delivered test will use a basic word processor developed by ETS. The basic word processor contains the following functionalities: insert text, delete text, cut-and-paste and undo the previous action. Tools such as a spell checker and grammar checker are not available in the ETS software, largely to maintain fairness for those examinees who must hand write their essays at paper-delivered administrations.
Preparing for the Analytical Writing Measure:
Everyone — even the most practiced and confident of writers — should spend some time preparing for the Analytical Writing measure before arriving at the test center. It is important to understand the skills measured and how the tasks are scored. It is also useful to review the scoring guides, sample topics, scored sample essay responses and rater commentary for each task.
The tasks in the Analytical Writing measure relate to a broad range of subjects — from the fine arts and humanities to the social and physical sciences — but no task requires knowledge of specific content. In fact, each task has been tested by actual GRE test takers to ensure that it possesses several important characteristics, including the following:
GRE test takers, regardless of their field of study or special interests, understood the task and could easily respond to it.
The task elicited the kinds of complex thinking and persuasive writing that university faculty consider important for success in graduate school.
The responses were varied in content and in the way the writers developed their ideas.
IDEAL GRE TIMELINE:
Step 5: Applying to universities
Most universities have admission deadlines in the first or second week of December. It is necessary that you have your application ready at least three weeks before the deadline. This helps you stay ahead of the pack, especially with the first come-first serve admission procedures.
Step 4: Finalize your college transcripts & documents
Getting your application ready-to-go is a tedious process. It involves collecting transcripts, tweaking your SOP and collecting your LOR. Some universities also ask you to provide additional documents such as a research agenda or a diversity essay. Create a checklist of all the necessary documents you are required to send to ensure you don’t miss out on anything!
Step 3: Prepare your SOP & LOR
This is the most important and most time-consuming portion of your admission application, which is,
Statement of Purpose (SOP)
Letter of Recommendation (LOR)
SOP: If you are applying to different universities with different programs, you MUST ensure you modify your SOP accordingly.
It takes most students an average of 2-3 weeks of research, consultations and edits before their SOP is ready to be sent out to universities.
LOR: You must give your professors and employers enough time to write your LOR because it is a testament to your skills made by a third person. These letters are scrutinized by admission officers to see if you would be a good fit for their university and how YOU can add value to them. This is an additional nod from people you have worked with or under that you are capable of all that you claim to be.
Step 2: Research & Shortlist Universities
This is probably the most nerve-wracking part you’ll face, but it is only just the beginning of the battle. Considering that it takes nearly 2-2.5 months to produce a perfect application, the ideal time to take GRE is during April-May.
By the time you are ready to take your test, you must also shortlist 4 schools to whom you can send your GRE scores as part of your ETS exam fee.
Step 1: Prepare for GRE and TOEFL
By now you have guessed that the only thing remaining is to get started on your GRE and TOEFL preparation!
With colleges starting their semester exams in May-June, it is advisable to wrap up your preparation, slightly ahead of time.
Consider giving your GRE in by April-May and your TOEFL, 2 weeks after that. This will give you sufficient time to prepare for GRE and TOEFL thoroughly during February, March & April.
As simple as it looks, preparing for GRE and TOEFL, achieving a great score and then applying to your dream universities is a long process that requires proper planning with a touch of expert guidance to help you save time and make your process more efficient.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Get the head start and secure your future!
GRE CUTOFF TO AIM FOR TOP COLLEGES: >320 (160+ IN V, 160+ IN Q to be on safe side) AWA cut-off remains at least 3.5 for all top colleges, a safer score is 4 and above.
Top US colleges average scores:
Average scores for top Canadian universities: