The Graduate Record Examination, commonly called the GRE test, is administered and scored by Educational Testing Service (ETS) a private, nonprofit organization that develops and administers various tests for educational measurement and research. The GRE General Test and GRE Subject Tests are required for entry in a number of graduate programs.
The GRE General Test
The GRE test measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing.
This section of the GRE looks at how well the test taker analyzes, evaluates, and synthesizes written materials, the components of sentences, and relationships between words and concepts.
This section looks at how well the test taker understands the basic concepts of algebra, geometry, and data analysis, and how well the test taker reasons and solves problems quantitatively.
This section looks at how well the test taker can articulate ideas clearly, examine evidence and claims, support ideas with examples, sustain a discussion, and control the elements of standard written English.
Many graduate programs require that their incoming students take this test. Some may have a required minimum score for entry into the program; others are just interested in seeing the score and may only use it to decide between two possible candidates.
GRE Subject Tests
GRE Subject Tests are available in eight disciplines:
- Computer Science
- Literature in English
The Subject Tests are often required for particular programs. In most cases, an incoming student will need to take both the General Test and the most relevant Subject Test. The scores on these tests, aside from being used to determine acceptance into a program, can also be used to evaluate students' strengths and weaknesses.
Taking The GRE Test
You can take the GRE General Test at any point during the year at a computer-based testing center in the United States, Canada, and several other countries. In countries where computer testing is not available, it is available in paper form. The Subject Tests are only available in November, December, and April.
You can register online at ETS. There will be a listing of available locations and dates for taking the test.
You may re-take the test, but the school you send the scores to will be able to see all scores you receive, and not just the most recent.
Help With The GRE
ETS states on their website that they do not recommend "expensive and elaborate coaching courses," but they do suggest preparing for the test by reviewing the content and format of the test. You can access practice tests and test-taking tips for the GRE General Test and the Subject Tests directly from the ETS website.
Besides ETS, many other online sites offer free practice tests and other help with the GRE.
- Test Prep Review provides a free on-line self-help class.
- Graduateshotline.com has a free online GRE vocabulary practice test.
- Kaplan Test Prep offers sample questions, registration for free GRE events, and more information on the test and changes being made to it.
- Syvum has test preparation practice exercises. It also offers to send prep questions to cell phones. It's free to have the questions sent, but you may have to pay fees to your mobile provider for the text message service.
- Thomson Peterson's also makes available tips and testing information.
- Test Magic has information on the test and some basics on analogies and explanations.
Check Your Local Bookstore
If online resources aren't enough, it may be a good idea to buy a book, or at least look through one, to get a feel for what the test will be like. There are numerous books and CDs available. Just searching for "GRE" at Amazon.com brings up 24,322 results. Of course all of them say they can help you. Check the reviews - sometimes users can help you see past the advertising claims.
Accommodations For the GRE
For those with disabilities, please see the ETS website for more information on what accommodations can be made and who to contact to arrange them. Documentation of disability will be required.