GRE Information and FAQ
Click on the following links for answers to commonly asked questions about the GRE.
- What does the GRE measure?
- How important is the GRE, and how is it used by admissions committees?
- How long is the GRE?
- How many questions are on the GRE?
- How is the GRE scored?
- When is the GRE given?
- Where is the GRE given?
- How much does the GRE cost?
- How soon will I get my GRE scores?
- Can I cancel my GRE score?
- How many times should I take the GRE?
What does the GRE measure?
The GRE is a computer-adaptive aptitude test designed to measure a student’s ability to succeed in graduate school. It consists of three sections:
- Analytical writing: designed to measure a student’s ability to think critically and express complex ideas in a clear and organized fashion
- Verbal reasoning: arguably the most challenging GRE section; designed to test a student’s vocabulary, reading comprehension, and analogical reasoning
- Quantitative reasoning: also known as the math section of the GRE; covers basic arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data (or chart) analysis.
How important is the GRE, and how is it used by admissions committees?
Most schools require a GRE score before considering admission, though how a school weights a GRE score in the overall admissions decision is highly individualized. Some schools require a minimum overall score, while other graduate programs may only factor in one of your section scores. For example, math or engineering graduate programs may not care about your verbal score, and English graduate programs may not pay attention to your GRE math score. Before taking the test, however, make sure you contact the programs to which you will be applying to find out what their specific GRE requirements are for admission.
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How long is the GRE?
The GRE is a 2 ½ hour test, though ETS also includes an extra “research” or “experimental” section. This additional math or verbal section will not affect your score but will lengthen the time you spend in the testing center. Here is the time-per-section breakdown: Analytical writing (1.5 hours), Verbal reasoning (30 minutes), Quanitative reasoning (45 minutes), “Test” section (30-45 minutes).
The analytical writing section of the GRE consists of two essays — one involving properly supporting an opinion on an issue and one providing detailed analysis of an argument. The verbal reasoning section consists of 30 multiple-choice questions. The quantitative reasoning section consists of 28 multiple-choice questions, for a total of 58 multiple-choice questions and 2 essays on the GRE.
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The three major parts of the test are scored independently. You will receive a verbal score, a math score, and a writing score. The verbal and math scores range from 130 to 170, in 1-point increments. The writing score is on a scale from 0 to 6. In addition to the scaled score, you will be assigned a percentile ranking, which gives the percentage of students with scores below yours.
The test is given year-round. You can take the test during normal business hours in the first three weeks of each month. Weekends are also available in many locations. You can register as late as the day before the test, but spaces do fill up, so it’s best to register at least a couple of weeks before you plan to take the test.
The GRE is administered at testing centers all over. For one closest to you or to register, visit the ETS website.
The fee for taking the GRE in the United States, US Territories, or Puerto Rico is $160. For more information on additional fees to take in other countries or for special handling requests, visit the ETS website.
Your will receive your scores on the quantitative and verbal reasoning sections before you even leave the testing center. After completing all sections of the exam as well as any research sections, your score will be visible on your computer screen. It takes another month on average to receive your score on the analytical writing section, and you will receive it in the mail.
Yes. After you have finished the GRE and before your score is revealed, you can choose to cancel the test. Make note that if you choose to cancel, you will not find out what score you would have gotten. Your score cancellation will not affect your permanent record. No refund will be given. To retake the test, you will need to pay the registration fee again and re-register for a date at least a month from the last time you took the test.
It is recommended that you prepare thoroughly and take the GRE once to get your best score. You can re-take the test, but many schools will average your scores from each time you took it, as opposed to taking only your highest score. Contact each graduate program to which you intend to apply to find out its policy.