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December 23, 2019
If your goals include completing your education at a graduate school level (past a bachelor’s degree), you’ll need to know about the GRE Exam. The GRE, known as the Graduate Record Exam, is required by some graduate degree and professional degree schools and programs and proves your ability to manage the critical thinking, analytical writing, verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning required at an advanced academic level.
This exam is conducted by a test provider that offers sittings through their approved GRE test centre partners.
The GRE exam is for students who are planning to continue their education at a graduate school level to earn a degree such as an MA, MS or Ph.D., or a professional degree like MBA, MPH or JD. Not all schools require students to take a GRE exam, it depends upon the school as well as the program you are applying to. It is important to note that even when certain schools don’t require GRE exam results for all programs, it may be required to prove knowledge in a particular field such as biology, mathematics or physics for a program you are applying to. Because of these specific needs for a GRE, it’s best to check with the schools you’re considering to apply to, to see what is required.
As noted, the GRE is a tool to help gauge a prospective graduate school student’s abilities in thinking, writing and reasoning at an advanced academic level. Therefore, even if your desired school or program doesn’t require GRE exam results as part of your application, you will want to consider taking the exam at a GRE test centre to prove your academic capabilities. Many programs have a limited number of seats available and only the best and brightest who apply are selected for certain education institution’s programs. By providing GRE exam results even when they aren’t required, you may move ahead of other candidates who are also seeking a seat.
The GRE exam is currently offered in both a computerized and paper-based format from a variety of GRE test centres around the world. This means that certain test centres may be computer-based only, may offer a choice of computer or paper or may be paper-based only. When you register for your GRE exam, you will want to know what format your test will be in to better enable you to prepare and know what to expect – which is an important aspect of preparing for any test.
Based on what the GRE is intended to determine, in terms of a student’s abilities, the exam is broken into three main sections: analytical writing, verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning.
The analytical writing section is the first portion of the exam. Here, you will read a passage of information then address the topic in ways that support the views you are presenting with sound reasoning and examples. The second essay in this section is similar in that you will read, then critique an essay.
The verbal section of the exam gives the student incomplete information and requires them to draw conclusions from it. This section stresses complex verbal reasoning skills as you form conclusions, identify relationships between concepts and words and parts of sentences. There are 30 computer-based questions in this 30-minute section. The test is structured differently when delivered on paper.
For the quantitative reasoning section, students must solve problems and apply basic arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis. This section is 45 minutes long with 28 computer-based questions. Again the format is different if taken on paper at your GRE exam centre.
You’ll want to select your test centre and exam date as early as possible so that you have enough time to prepare. Plus, all exam dates and times are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis, so it’s important to make your selection early to avoid missing your preferred date.
Prometric test centres offer year-round computer testing and have a track record for comfortable, neutral and non-biased test environments to make the process easier on test-takers.
Of course, once the exam is completed, your next question will be when your results will be available. It’s important to check with the exam centre prior to booking the test date to ensure scores will be delivered prior to your preferred school’s application deadline. If you take a computerized test, you can expect scores to be returned in about 10 to 15 days following the exam date.
ETS also offers a number of free tools to make preparing for the GRE easier. It can be puzzling to know what to practice in order to hone verbal and quantitative reasoning! Check the link at https://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/prepare to find the tools to help you understand the requirements of the various sections of the exam and what to practice. While a number of the tools are free, there are also pay-to-access tools on the ETS site.
You may feel confident in approaching the exam without reviewing any study guides or tools, but one that shouldn’t be overlooked is the sample test. It’s always a huge benefit to know what the exam will look like, how it will flow and the format expected for answers.
The GRE is a very structured and controlled exam. Therefore, when you register, you must be sure that your name and other required information is entered into your account to register exactly as it appears on your ID. You will need to show your ID on the exam day. Make sure you arrive early so that you can put your things away in a locker, get a seat in the exam room and feel settled well before the exam begins.
If your results aren’t what you’d hoped for, you are able to take the exam again, in fact, you can take it up to five times in a 365 day period so long as the tests are spaced a minimum of 21 days apart. Knowing you can retake it and potentially improve your scores often creates the relaxation you need to move past the common exam performance stress to allow you to possibly do better than expected.