The GRE has seen an increasing acceptability among various masters and doctoral degree program providing schools. The weight of GRE test scores not only vary from school to school, but also from department to department. In the recent past, the GRE test has proven to be one of the major selection criteria by major colleges.
What is GRE?
Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a computer-based or paper-based systematized test, that can either be just an admission formality in some schools; or may act as an important selection procedure for other schools. The examination has been designed to check various thinking, reasoning and writing skills of the test takers. The GRE is owned by Educational Testing Service (ETS), and it does not relate to any particular field of study. The GRE test is a computerized adaptive test, but it modifies the difficulty level of the test section-wise; and not question-wise. There were some changes made to the pattern of the test in 2011 and the scoring parameter decreased from 200-800 range to 130-170 range.
The application fee for the GRE is $195, which can be changed by the ETS under certain conditions. The computer-based GRE test can be taken only in authorized Prometric testing centers; whereas the paper-based GRE tests are offered at places, where the former is unavailable. The total duration of the test is 3 hours and 45 minutes, which includes one minute break after each section and a 10-minute break after the third section.
Preparing for the Test:
Students who aspire to prepare for the GRE can refer to a lot of sources. ETS provides a preparation software named PowerPrep, which helps in preparation for both; the general GRE test and the GRE subject test.
The GRE test includes an analytical writing part which always comes in the first section. The first section is followed by two verbal reasoning parts, two quantitative reasoning parts and either an experimental or a research part; all of which may come in any order. The various part of the test has been evaluated below:
Analytical Writing Section:-
This section is divided into two parts of essay writing, out of which one is “issue task” and the other is “arguments task”. A special word processing program, designed by the ETS, is used to write the essays. The program does not have any spell checker or any other advance functions. The essays are checked and graded by two different readers, and if the grading by both the readers vary by more than one point, then a third reader is required to test the response. If the scores don’t differ by more than one point, then the average of the scores of both the readers is considered. The writing section is graded on a scale of 0-6, in half point differences.
The “Issue task” essay has to be completed within 30 minutes, and the topics are chosen from a pool of options which the ETS has saved in its entirety. The aspirants can avail these topics from the ETS website.
The test takers are allotted a 30 minutes time to complete the “Argument task” essay. The examinees will be given an argument and will be expected to write an analysis on it. The topics of argument are chosen from ETS’s pool of questions, which can be availed from the ETS website.
This section is designed to check the comprehending, reasoning and vocabulary skills of the test takers. A lot of changes were made to this section of the GRE test, when the test was overhauled in August, 2011. The scoring scale was changed from 200-800 range to 130-170 range with 1-point increments. The changes also included a decreased emphasis on rote vocabulary knowledge and elimination of antonyms and analogies. Some reading types questions with multiple answers were also added. Each verbal section consists of 6 text completion, 4 sentence equivalence, and 10 analytical reading questions. The test takers are given 30 minutes to complete each section of this kind.
The Quantitative section checks the basic high school level, mathematical and quantitative reasoning skills of the examinees. Each part of this section consists of 9 problem solving, 8 quantitative comparisons, and 3 data interpretation questions. The changes made to this section of the test in 2011 includes, decreasing the scoring scale from the range of 200-800 to 130-170, and addition of fill-in-the-blank type numeric entry multiple-choice answer types questions.
This section is excluded from the paper-based GRE test, and is present only in computer-based GRE test. The experimental questions can be either verbal or quantitative type. The scores of this section do not count at the end, but it is unidentified and appears identical to every other section. There is no definite way for the test takers to know which particular section is experimental, so they are advised to focus on each section equally.
GRE Subjects Test
Along with the general GRE test, there are seven other GRE subject tests, which seek to test the examinee's knowledge in specific areas of subjects like Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Biology, Chemistry, Literature in English, Mathematics, Physics, and psychology. The total duration of this test is 170 minutes.