What Is the GRE?

The GRE or the Graduate Record Examinations is a test that is taken by all those candidates who wish to study in a good college. This exam is not just offered in the United States but also in other parts of the world. The ETS or the Educational Testing Service created this test and it has been administering the same since the year 1949. This is an examination that the candidates will have to take by using a computer in the test center and the same is administered by qualified testing centers. The main goal of this test is to assess the critical thinking skill, analytical writing skill, quantitative reasoning skill and verbal reasoning skill of the candidates. The importance of the test in graduate school admissions will vary from college to college. Some colleges consider it just a formality for admission while others take this test to be a significant factor in the admission process.

Sections and Questions of the GRE

You will find that there are six sections in this exam and the first section that you will have to work on will be the Analytical Writing section, the other sections being two Quantitative Reasoning sections, two Verbal Reasoning sections, a Research or Experimental section and a variable section that is not scored. The last two sections mentioned may or may not be there in the test. These remaining five sections do not have any fixed order of occurrence; they can come in any order.

  • Analytical Writing section: This is that part of the test where you will have to write two essays. One will be an Argumentative Task and the other will be an Issue Task. You will have to write them in a word processing program using the computer that has been especially designed by the Educational Testing Service. Each of the essays will be assessed by two readers and a score will be given to each of them individually. The score that one will obtain in this section will range from 0 to 6. The examiner will then take the average score to determine your score in the Analytical writing section. In the Issue Task, you will be given an issue of common interest along with instructions on how you should respond to this topic. You will need to assess the issue and then come up with an argument along with examples and reasons to support your opinion. You will have to write an essay based on it in 30 minutes. In the Argumentative Task, you will be given an argumentative topic that you will have to analyze and then write in 30 minutes. You will be required to read the topic and think about the logical soundness of the argument before you decide to write your point of view.

  • Verbal Reasoning: There are two sections in this part and they will measure the critical reasoning, vocabulary usage and reading comprehension skills of the candidate. The score that you can obtain will range from 130 to 170. Each verbal reasoning section will consist of about 20 questions and you will have to finish it in half an hour's time. The questions will include critical reading questions, sentence equivalence and text completion.

  • Quantitative Reasoning: There are also two sections in this part and they will test the mathematical reasoning skills and knowledge of the candidate. The score that you can obtain in these sections will range from 130 to 170 and there will be about 20 questions in each section. The total time given to complete the quantitative reasoning sections is 70 minutes, where each section will be timed separately.

  • Experimental section: This is a section that you will also have to work on but you need to know that it will not contribute to the final score. On the other hand, it is as important as the other sections. This section can be an Analytical Writing task, Quantitative Reasoning task or a Verbal Reasoning task.

  • Unscored Variable section: This is not the same as the Experimental section and it generally appears in any order, usually following the Analytical Writing section. This is an unscored part of the test that is as important as the other sections.

Do Keep in Mind...

It is important that you prepare for this examination in advance so that you will be able to get a very good idea about the various sections. This is the best way to ensure that you score high in the test.