GRE (Graduate Record Examinations):
Much like the SAT and ACT, the GRE exam is a broad assessment of your critical thinking, analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning skills — all skills developed over the course of many years. Some schools may also require you to take one or more GRE Subject Tests.
The purpose of each GRE examination, of course, is to help graduate schools decide if you’ve got the right stuff for their program.
Overview of the GRE test:
- Analytical writing section of the GRE test
- Verbal section of the GRE test
- Math section of the GRE test
For the first part of the Analytical Writing section, you must read a paragraph on a general issue and then address that topic as you deem fit for the next 45 minutes. Your ability to support your views with sound reasoning and examples are key elements to completing this section well.
If you take the GRE exam on a computer, this portion is completed via simple word processing software. In areas where computer-based testing is not available, this segment is handwritten, so make sure you bring plenty of sharpened pencils!
Similar to the first essay question, the second essay of the GRE writing section asks you to read and then critique an argument. You’ll have 30 minutes to complete this essay. You’ll need to consider the reasoning presented in the argument and then discuss whether you believe the argument is a good one or not. You don’t need to agree or disagree with the statement — you just have to analyze it and convey your reasoning clearly through your written response.
The writing section is not computer-adaptive like the rest of the GRE exam. You may use a computer to complete it, but it won’t “react” to your writing or attempt to score your essays. For this section, your scores are determined by real people, not computers.
Similar to portions of other exams you’ve probably taken, the Verbal section of the GRE test includes things like sentence completions, analogies, antonyms, and reading comprehension questions. Its purpose is to test your ability to form conclusions from written materials, recognize relationships between concepts and words, and to determine relationships between different parts of sentences.
If you take the GRE on a computer, expect to answer 30 questions within 30 minutes. On the paper version of the test, there are two segments, each 30 minutes long and each with 38 questions.
The Quantitative section of the GRE tests high-school-level math. If you’re a bit rusty, start honing your skills in arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis. This portion of the exam aims to test your skill at solving a variety of different math problems, as well as to analyze your ability to use quantitative reasoning.
For the computer version, you’ll need to answer 28 questions in 45 minutes, but on the paper version you’ll have two 30-minute segments, each with 30 questions.
You’ll probably notice similarities between the GRE and other tests you may have taken before you started college. You should prepare for this test much like you did the others, with GRE practice and GRE preparation, but don’t feel daunted or intimidated just because it’s a test for graduate school — you’ll be fine!