Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Definition
The Graduate Record Examinations refers to a standardized test used to assess the aptitude of an individual in areas such as mathematics, analytical writing, and vocabulary. The exam is a requirement for admission for most graduate programs in Canada and the United States. It determines the eligibility of an individual for a given graduate program.
A Little More on What is the Graduate Record Examination
The ownership and administration of GRE are by Educational Testing Service, also referred to as ETS. The Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching established the test in 1936. It is a non-profit organization based in New Jersey, United States. Its mission statement is to advance quality and equity in education through the provision of excellent and valid research, assessment, and related services.
The GRE is one of the essential steps in the business or graduate school application process. The admission committees use your GRE score along with your other academic documents (records) and any other supporting material to evaluate your readiness for the graduate study program.
How GRE Works
The administration of the exam is done on a computer and is a multiple-choice standardized exam. However, for areas with limited or without appropriate computer networks, applicants are given a paper-based test. Note the content of the test is the same in both formats. However, there is a slight difference in duration and several questions provided in each section. Since computer delivery is the most common, the content below will focus on this format, which has three parts.
GRE is different from the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), which doesn’t allow candidates to make changes to their answers during the exam. GRE computer-delivered gives candidates room to edit, preview, and tag features built into it.
What this means is that the system allows you to mark some questions to work on them later and also make changes to your previous answers in any given section. A handy on-screen calculator is provided for use in the part of quantitative reasoning.
What Does GRE Entail?
The GRE has three major sections that measure quantitative reasoning, verbal, and critical writing skills.
- Verbal Reasoning
The verbal reasoning part analyzes the ability of the candidate to distinguish relevant and significant points, understand words and sentences, and draw conclusions, among others. The verbal reasoning section is designed to measure the candidate’s ability to evaluate and analyze written materials. It also gauges the candidate’s capacity to process the information he or she collects from the written content, including observing and analyzing relationships between various parts of sentences.
The verbal reasoning section has four types of questions: Antonyms, sentence completion, reading comprehension, and verbal analogies. There are 30 questions in this section, which takes 30 minutes to complete.
- Sentence Completion: The questions here measures the candidate’s ability to understand the sentence’s logic as well as recognizing words that complete the sentence’s meaning. A candidate is usually given a sentence with one or two missing words. A test taker’s task is to choose an answer with a name that fits the entire sentence.
- Antonyms: This one measures the test taker’s vocabulary and his or her ability to reason from a given concept’s angle to its opposite. The candidate is presented with a single word followed by multiple-choice answers containing short phrases. From the multiple choices, a candidate is expected to select the most appropriate opposite meaning of the original word.
- Verbal Analogies: It measures the test taker’s ability to recognize the relationship among concepts and words they represent, including paralleled connections. Verbal analogies questions are presented to a candidate with a related pair of words and five multiple-choice answers containing phrases or lettered pairs of words. The candidate is expected to select the sentences that express a relationship like that one shown in the first couple of words.
- Reading comprehension: This one measures the candidate’s ability to analyze a written passage as well as answering questions about it. The test setters derive the readings from social sciences, humanities, physical sciences, and biological sciences. The size of the passage usually ranges from 80 to 150 lines, and the number of questions of a particular c is between 3 to 5.
- Analytical Writing
The analytical writing part assesses the ability of the candidate to articulate and analyze an argument or issue and, at the same time, forward a coherent and focused discussion relating it. Analytical writing measures how well a candidate can analyze complex ideas and provide real support for those particular tested concepts. Note that this section doesn’t evaluate specific content knowledge. The part has two tasks that have separate timing. They are as follows:
- Presenting your perspective on an issue
This task lasts for about 45 minutes. A candidate is given a choice between two Issue topics. Each topic states an opinion on a subject of interest, where a candidate is asked to discuss it from any perspective he or she wishes. However, the test taker has to provide relevant examples and reasons to explain and support his or her views.
- Analyze an Argument
The task takes about 30 minutes. It does not provide a choice of argument topics. All a candidate needs is to consider the argument soundness’ logic rather than agreeing or disagreeing with its present position. So, unlike the issue task, an argument task requires a candidate to analyze an argument by discussing its relevance and reasoning critically.
- Quantitative Reasoning
In this segment, there is measuring a candidate’s problem-solving ability by use geometry concepts, algebra, and data analysis. Those taking the test must use mathematical problems to solve problems, analyze, and interpret quantitative data.
There are about 30 quantitative and problem-solving comparison questions with a limited time of 45 minutes. The quizzes fall in the following classification:
- Data interpretation
- Data analysis
- Quantitative comparisons
How is GRE Scored?
The current verbal and quantitative section score is 130-170 and is scored in increments of one point. The score for the analytical writing section is 0-6 in increments of half a point. However, the ETS has been able to provide each section’s mean score of the GRE based on all the applicants from July, 1 2014-June 30, 2017. They are as follows:
- Verbal Reasoning – 150.1
- Analytical Writing – 152.81
- Quantitative reasoning – 3.5
It is worth noting that any candidate who is able to get a high score on the GRE will get a direct and positive impact on his or her application for business or graduate school.
Where and When to Take the GRE Test
The general test for GRE is available in more than 160 countries and 1,000 test centers. In most regions across the world, the delivery of the test is through a computer and is continuously available throughout the year. In countries such as China, Kenya, Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Korea have a computer-based test up to three times every month. In other areas where there is no computer network, the delivery of the exam is through paper tests available three times per year (February, October, and February).
How to Take the GRE and the Cost
Those looking forward to taking the GRE have to get to a test center. Time for test completion is more than 3 hours with arranged breaks in between the exam sections. Given that there is no limit to the number of times one can sit for the test, there must be a gap of about 21 days between any two consecutive exam attempts. Also, the number of times a candidate is allowed to attempt the exam per the calendar year is five.
An applicant might take several exams to improve his or her scores. The move helps in increasing the acceptance chances into a graduate school of interest. After several exam attempts, an applicant is allowed to choose the scores they submit to the graduate school. It is different from other standardized tests where they send ratings to the graduate school without the applicant’s input.
The cost of the GRE varies depending on the country. For instance, the GRE cost in the United States is $205. In a country like China, the price is $231.30. A subject test’s fee is $150 globally.
GRE Exam signing and Preparation
For an applicant to take the GRE, he or she has to sign up on the ETS website. A candidate will require a free account to receive the computer-based test. Afterward, he or she can sign up for the exam date and center. However, the candidate must do the registration two months before the scheduled exam date. A candidate can make exam payment using a debit or credit card, paper check, e-check, or PayPal.
When it comes to preparing for the GRE, there is a range of resources that ETS offer on its site and, most of them free. There are several practice tests that EST offers for free. They include mathematics skills review, including instructional videos, definitions, and examples. It also provides other resources at a cost, meaning that for a candidate to access them, he or she must part with a few dollars. Example of such resources include:
- Additional practice tests
- Section specific questions like verbal reasoning
- Online writing practice where a candidate writes two essays and gets scores and feedback