The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) is a standardized test that is an admissions requirement for most Graduate Schools in the United States. The GRE is owned and administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS) who created it in 1949. According to ETS, the GRE aims to measure
1. verbal reasoning,
3. analytical writing, and
4. critical thinking skills that have been acquired over a long period of learning. The content of the GRE consists of certain specific algebra, geometry, arithmetic, and vocabulary. The GRE General Test is offered as a computer-based exam administered at Prometric testing centers.
In the graduate school admissions process, the level of emphasis that is placed upon GRE scores varies widely between schools and departments within schools. The importance of a GRE score can range from being a mere admission formality to an important selection factor.
The GRE was significantly overhauled in August 2011, resulting in an exam that is not adaptive on a question-by-question basis, but rather by section, so that the performance on the first verbal and math sections determine the difficulty of the second sections presented. Overall, the test retained the sections and many of the question types from its predecessor, but the scoring scale was changed to a 130 to 170 scale (from a 200 to 800 scale).
The cost to take the test is US$205, although ETS will reduce the fee under certain circumstances. They also promote financial aid to those GRE applicants who prove economic hardship. ETS does not release scores that are older than 5 years, although graduate program policies on the acceptance of scores older than 5 years will vary.
- 1.1Verbal section
- 1.2Quantitative section
- 1.3Analytical writing section
- 1.3.1Issue Task
- 1.3.2Argument task
- 1.4Experimental section
- 2.1Scaled score percentiles
- 3Use in admissions
- 4GRE Subject Tests
- 5GRE and GMAT
- 7Testing locations
- 9.2Weak predictor of graduate school performance
- 9.3Historical susceptibility to cheating
- 102011 revision
- 11GRE before October 2002
- 12See also
- 14External links
The computer-based GRE General Test consists of six sections. The first section is always the analytical writing section involving separately timed issue and argument tasks. The next five sections consist of two verbal reasoning sections, two quantitative reasoning sections, and either an experimental or research section. These five sections may occur in any order. The experimental section does not count towards the final score but is not distinguished from the scored sections. Unlike the computer adaptive test before August 2011, the GRE General Test is a multistage test, where the examinee's performance on earlier sections determines the difficulty of subsequent sections. This format allows the examined person to freely move back and forth between questions within each section, and the testing software allows the user to "mark" questions within each section for later review if time remains. The entire testing procedure lasts about 3 hours 45 minutes. One-minute breaks are offered after each section and a 10-minute break after the third section.
The paper-based GRE General Test also consists of six sections. The analytical writing is split up into two sections, one section for each issue and argument task. The next four sections consist of two verbal and two quantitative sections in varying order. There is no experimental section on the paper-based test. This version is only available in areas where the computer-based version is unavailable.
The computer-based verbal sections assess reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and vocabulary usage. The verbal test is scored on a scale of 130-170, in 1-point increments (Before August, 2011 the scale was 200–800, in 10-point increments). In a typical examination, each verbal section consists of 20 questions to be completed in 30 minutes. Each verbal section consists of about 6 text completion, 4 sentence equivalence, and 10 critical reading questions. The changes in 2011 include a reduced emphasis on rote vocabulary knowledge and the elimination of antonyms and analogies. Text completion items have replaced sentence completions and new reading question types allowing for the selection of multiple answers were added.
The computer-based quantitative sections assess basic high school level mathematical knowledge and reasoning skills. The quantitative test is scored on a scale of 130–170, in 1-point increments (Before August 2011 the scale was 200–800, in 10-point increments). In a typical examination, each quantitative section consists of 20 questions to be completed in 35 minutes. Each quantitative section consists of about 8 quantitative comparisons, 9 problem solving items, and 3 data interpretation questions. The changes in 2011 include the addition of numeric entry items requiring the examinee to fill in a blank and multiple-choice items requiring the examinee to select multiple correct responses.
Analytical writing section
The analytical writing section consists of two different essays, an "issue task" and an "argument task". The writing section is graded on a scale of 0–6, in half-point increments. The essays are written on a computer using a word processing program specifically designed by ETS. The program allows only basic computer functions and does not contain a spell-checker or other advanced features. Each essay is scored by at least two readers on a six-point holist scale. If the two scores are within one point, the average of the scores is taken. If the two scores differ by more than a point, a third reader examines the response.
The test taker is given 30 minutes to write an essay about a selected topic. Issue topics are selected from a pool of questions, which the GRE Program has published in its entirety. Individuals preparing for the GRE may access the pool of tasks on the ETS website.
The test taker will be given an argument (i.e. a series of facts and considerations leading to a conclusion) and asked to write an essay that critiques the argument. Test takers are asked to consider the argument's logic and to make suggestions about how to improve the logic of the argument. Test takers are expected to address the logical flaws of the argument and not provide a personal opinion on the subject. The time allotted for this essay is 30 minutes. The Arguments are selected from a pool of topics, which the GRE Program has published in its entirety. Individuals preparing for the GRE may access the pool of tasks on the ETS website.
The experimental section, which can be either verbal or quantitative, contains new questions ETS is considering for future use. Although the experimental section does not count towards the test-taker's score, it is unidentified and appears identical to the scored sections. Because test takers have no definite way of knowing which section is experimental, it is typically advised that test takers try their best and be focused on every section. Sometimes an identified research section at the end of the test is given instead of the experimental section. There is no experimental section on the paper-based GRE.
An examinee can miss one or more questions on a multiple-choice section and still receive a perfect score of 170. Likewise, even if no question is answered correctly, 130 is the lowest possible score.
Scaled score percentiles
The percentiles for the current General test and the concordance with the prior format are as follows. Means and standard deviations for the measures on the new score scale are not yet available:
|Scaled score||Verbal reasoning percentile||Verbal prior scale||Quantitative reasoning percentile||Quantitative prior scale|
|Analytical Writing score||Writing % Below|
"Field-wise distribution" of test takers is "limited to those who earned their college degrees up to two years before the test date." ETS provides no score data for "non-traditional" students who have been out of school more than two years, although its own report "RR-99-16" indicated that 22% of all test takers in 1996 were over the age of 30.
Use in admissions
Many graduate schools in the United States require GRE results as part of the admissions process. The GRE is a standardized test intended to measure all graduates' abilities in tasks of general academic nature (regardless of their fields of specialization) and the extent to which undergraduate education has developed their verbal skills, quantitative skills, and abstract thinking.
In addition to GRE scores, admission to graduate schools depends on several other factors, such as GPA, letters of recommendation, and statements of purpose. Furthermore, unlike other standardized admissions tests (such as the SAT, LSAT, and MCAT), the use and weight of GRE scores vary considerably not only from school to school, but also from department to department and program to program. For instance, most business schools and economics programs require very high GRE or GMAT scores for entry, while engineering programs are known to allow more score variation. Liberal arts programs may only consider the applicant's verbal score, while mathematics and science programs may only consider quantitative ability. Some schools use the GRE in admissions decisions, but not in funding decisions; others use it for selection of scholarship and fellowship candidates, but not for admissions. In some cases, the GRE may be a general requirement for graduate admissions imposed by the university, while particular departments may not consider the scores at all. Graduate schools will typically provide the average scores of previously admitted students and information about how the GRE is considered in admissions and funding decisions. In some cases programs have hard cut off requirements for the GRE; for example, the Yale Economics PhD program requires a minimum quantitative score of 160 to apply. The best way to ascertain how a particular school or program evaluates a GRE score in the admissions process is to contact the person in charge of graduate admissions for the specific program in question.
In February 2016, the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law became the first law school to accept either the GRE or the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) from all applicants. The college made the decision after conducting a study showing that the GRE is a valid and reliable predictor of students' first-term law school grades.
In the spring of 2017, Harvard Law School announced it was joining University of Arizona Law in accepting the GRE in addition to the LSAT from applicants to its three-year J.D. program.
GRE Subject Tests
In addition to the General Test, there are also six GRE Subject Tests testing knowledge in the specific areas of Biology; Chemistry; Literature in English; Mathematics; Physics; and Psychology. The length of each exam is 170 minutes.
In the past, subject tests were also offered in the areas of Computer Science, Economics, Revised Education, Engineering, Geology, History, Music, Political Science, Sociology, and Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology. In April 1998, the Revised Education and Political Science exams were discontinued. In April 2000, the History and Sociology exams were discontinued; with Economics, Engineering, Music, and Geology being discontinued in April 2001. The Computer Science exam was discontinued after April 2013. Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology was discontinued in December 2016.
GRE and GMAT
The GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is a computer-adaptive standardized test in mathematics and the English language for measuring aptitude to succeed academically in graduate business studies. Business schools commonly use the test as one of many selection criteria for admission into an MBA program. Starting in 2009, many business schools began accepting the GRE in lieu of a GMAT score. Policies varied widely for several years. However, as of the 2014–2015 admissions season, most business schools accept both tests equally. Either a GMAT score, or a GRE score, can be submitted for an application to an MBA program. Business schools also accept either score for their other (non-MBA) Master's and PhD programs.
The primary issue on which business school test acceptance policies vary is in how old a GRE or GMAT score can be before it is no longer accepted. The standard is that scores cannot be more than 5 years old (e.g., Wharton, MIT Sloan, Columbia Business School).
A variety of resources are available for those wishing to prepare for the GRE. ETS provides preparation software called PowerPrep, which contains two practice tests of retired questions, as well as further practice questions and review material. Since the software replicates both the test format and the questions used, it can be useful to predict the actual GRE scores. ETS does not license their past questions to any other company, making them the only source for official retired material. ETS used to publish the "BIG BOOK" which contained a number of actual GRE questions; however, this publishing was abandoned. Several companies provide courses, books, and other unofficial preparation materials.
Some students taking the GRE use a test preparation company. Students who do not use these courses often rely on material from university text books, GRE preparation books, sample tests, and free web resources.
While the general and subject tests are held at many undergraduate institutions, the computer-based general test is only held at test centers with appropriate technological accommodations. You can find the test locations on this link. https://ereg.ets.org/ereg/public/workflowmanager/workflow?workflowItemId=tcAvailability
An analysis of the GRE's validity in predicting graduate school success found a correlation of .30 to .45 between the GRE and both first year and overall graduate GPA. The correlation between GRE score and graduate school completion rates ranged from .11 (for the now defunct analytical section) to .39 (for the GREsubject test). Correlations with faculty ratings ranged from .35 to .50.