Mastering the GRE Exam: A Comprehensive Guide from A to Z

The Graduate Record Examination, better known as the GRE, is a standardized test that plays a critical role in the graduate school admissions process for many universities and business schools worldwide. Whether you’re aiming for a master’s or doctoral program or considering an MBA, the GRE can be a significant factor in your academic journey. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore every facet of the GRE exam, including why you should take it, important dates, eligibility criteria, syllabus, exam pattern, cutoff scores, and frequently asked questions (FAQs).

The GRE exam serves as a gateway to countless academic and career opportunities, making it a crucial step for many individuals:

1. Graduate School Admissions: Most graduate programs, including master’s and Ph.D. programs in various fields such as humanities, sciences, engineering, and social sciences, require GRE scores as part of their admission criteria. A competitive GRE score enhances your chances of securing admission to your desired program.

2. MBA Programs: Many business schools, particularly those offering MBA programs, consider GRE scores alongside other admission criteria. Taking the GRE can broaden your options if you are considering pursuing an MBA.

3. Scholarships and Fellowships: A strong GRE score can make you eligible for various scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships offered by universities, potentially reducing the financial burden of your graduate education.

4. Career Advancement: In some cases, employers in fields such as education, research, and government positions may request GRE scores as part of their hiring process, especially for roles requiring advanced degrees.

5. Flexibility and Universality: The GRE is widely accepted by thousands of graduate and business programs worldwide, offering flexibility and a universal benchmark for assessing candidates’ readiness for graduate-level work.

The GRE exam is open to individuals of all ages and backgrounds, with no specific eligibility criteria or educational prerequisites. You can take the GRE regardless of your academic or professional background.

Verbal Reasoning: This section evaluates your ability to analyze and interpret written content, understand relationships among words and concepts, and evaluate arguments. It includes reading comprehension, text completion, and sentence equivalence questions.

Quantitative Reasoning: The quantitative section assesses your mathematical and problem-solving skills. It includes questions on arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis. Calculators are allowed for some questions.

Analytical Writing: The analytical writing section measures your ability to critically analyze an issue and present a well-structured argument. It comprises two tasks: the Issue Task, where you respond to a specific issue, and the Argument Task, where you critique an argument’s reasoning.

SectionTypes of QuestionsTaskNumber of QuestionsTotal Duration ( Minutes )
Analytical WritingAnalyse an issue
Analyse an argument
Quantitative comparative questions
Multiple Choice Questions (One correct answer)
Multiple Choice Questions (More than one correct answer)
Numeric entry
Verbal ReasoningReading comprehension
Text completion
Sentence equivalence

The GRE is scored on a scale of 130 to 170 points for each of the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections, in one-point increments. The Analytical Writing section is scored on a scale of 0 to 6 points in half-point increments. The total GRE score combines the Verbal and Quantitative scores, ranging from 260 to 340 points.

Cutoff scores vary by program and institution. While some programs have minimum score requirements, others consider GRE scores alongside other factors, such as GPA, recommendation letters, and interviews.

How do I send my GRE scores to universities or programs?

You can select up to four recipients to receive your GRE scores for free on test day. Additional score reports can be sent for a fee. You can also send scores to recipients after test day through the ETS website.

Can I retake the GRE exam if I’m not satisfied with my scores?

Yes, you can retake the GRE exam, but you must wait at least 21 days before taking it again. However, you can take the GRE up to five times within a 12-month period, with specific restrictions.

How long are GRE scores valid?

GRE scores are valid for five years from the test date. After this period, they are no longer reportable.

Is there a passing or failing score on the GRE?

The GRE does not have a passing or failing score. Instead, programs and institutions set their own score requirements for admission.

Can I use a calculator during the GRE exam?

Yes, a basic on-screen calculator is provided for specific Quantitative Reasoning questions. Personal calculators are not allowed.

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