Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Guide
Graduate Record Examination or GRE is one of the most widely used admission tests for students that wish to get admitted to graduate, business, or law schools. The GRE Test is used to measure your command of basic algebra, arithmetic, geometry, and college-level vocabulary. The test is also used to measure your abilities to think critically, solve problems, and analyze the written information or data.
If you wish to give yourself an advantage when applying for graduate studies, taking the GRE Test will definitely give the admissions office reasons to take you into consideration as one of their prospective students. Even if you do not know which graduate school you wish to apply to, you can still take the GRE Test since its scores are valid for five years and you will have time to explore first and then decide.
Once you make the decision to take the test, knowing as much as possible about the types of GRE tests, their content and structure allow you to perform better on the exam since you will already know what you should be preparing for. It is important to enter the test with as much knowledge as possible in order to score as high as possible. To help you with this we have created a guide with some of the most common questions and crucial information you will need to know when you start studying for the GRE test. The list is as follows:
Administration of the Graduate Record Examination
The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is administered by ETS - Educational Testing Service. ETS was founded in 1947 by the members of the American Council on Education, the College Entrance Examination Board together with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The mission of this testing center is to advance the quality and equity in education all around the world. Apart from the GRE Test, ETS also administers more than 50 million tests - including the TOEFL, Praxis, and TOEIC. These tests are administered in more than 180 countries at more than 9,000 locations worldwide.
What Types of Graduate Record Examination Tests are there?
The Graduate Examination Tests are of two kinds:
- GRE General Test, and
- GRE Subject Test
Students can choose by themselves if they wish to take one or the other. However, most of the time students will have to take one of the tests depending on the field of study they wish to pursue and their choice of university. These two may be quite huge determinants of whether students need to take the GRE General Test, or if the GRE Subject Test is the recommended option.
Is taking the GRE Test Compulsory for Admission in Colleges and Universities?
Even though taking the GRE test is not compulsory for every student that wants to pursue his or her graduate studies, it does help your college application. If you look at the best colleges and universities, you will see that most of them do accept the GRE Test, and some of them even list it as a requirement for prospective students. Some universities list their recommended GRE scores so that students know if their GRE scores will help them for admission consideration.
Despite it not being a compulsory requirement, taking the GRE test will definitely help students with a lower GPA or those who do not have the strongest application. In these cases, if the student manages to score high in the GRE Test, it will show the admissions committee that despite the low GPA or performance during his/her undergraduate studies, the student is ready to take on the challenges and that there is potential for succeeding in their graduate studies.
How to Register for the GRE Test?
If you have decided to take the GRE Test, the first thing you should do is create an ETS Account. Apart from using this account to register for the GRE General Test and the GRE Subject Test, you can also use it to view your scores, purchase test preparation materials, view your registration, change or cancel it, and apply for testing accommodations.
When registering, you should write your name exactly as it appears on your ID documents. If the name on your ID document does not match the name on your account you may be prohibited from taking the test or you can get your scores canceled, which can lead to the forfeit of your registration fee as well.
The steps that should be followed when registering for an ETS account are:
- Visit the ETS website
- Click on the GRE icon
- On the right top corner click ETS Account
- At the icon, New Users click Create an Account and fill in all the information on the form
- Once you have filled out the information you can continue by creating a username and password
- After this, you will have the chance to revise your information to make sure all of it is correct
- Once your account is set you will receive an email confirmation and you can register for the GRE General Test or GRE Subject Test.
How do Admissions Use the GRE?
Students who submit their GRE test scores when applying for graduate studies know that their scores are one of the factors that play a part in their admission. Considering that the GRE Test measures skills like your verbal reasoning to your critical thinking, admissions use the GRE test scores to identify those applicants who are more likely to do well if accepted in their university.
Therefore, admissions officers usually relate a high GRE score with one who will most
probably be successful. Another advantage of a high GRE score is that if your application lacks something, your GRE Test scores will help the admissions committee see how well you did on certain sections of the GRE Test and determine whether you are a potential candidate
Who Can Take the GRE Test?
The Graduate Record Examination does not have eligibility requirements. Usually, students that take the GRE Test are students that have at least an undergraduate degree. Considering that the GRE Test is taken by students who wish to pursue their graduate studies, an undergraduate degree would be the minimum requirement. The GRE Test does not have an age limit either.
Can I Take the Graduate Record Examinations for Free?
You should not worry if you do not have enough funds to cover the fee needed to take the GRE Test. Fortunately, ETS provides students with opportunities to apply for a Fee Reduction Program, since they believe that the cost of taking this test should not be a barrier for students who wish to pursue their graduate studies.
ETS offers a Fee Reduction for students of the following categories:
- Students with financial need.
- Unemployed students that receive unemployment compensation.
- National programs that support underrepresented groups.
ETS provides students with a GRE Fee Reduction Voucher that allows you to pay only 50% of the regular test fee. If you receive a Voucher, you can use it for either a GRE General Test or a GRE Subject Test, but you cannot combine it with other offers.
Should I Take the GRE General Test or the GRE Subject Test?
Universities do accept both of the GRE Tests. If you wish you can take both of them, especially if you are applying for a particular field of study. Taking the GRE Subject Tests will only strengthen your application.
Does the GRE offer Testing Accommodations for Test Takers with Disabilities or Health-Related Needs?
Given the purpose of the test, ETS has created opportunities for test takers with disabilities or health-related needs. Students who meet the ETS requirements should fill out a form with their request and submit it as early as possible. The review process of the documents takes around six weeks once you submit your request. Your complete paperwork should be submitted together with your request. In case you are asked to submit any additional documents, it will take another six weeks to review the new documents.
Once your request is approved by ETS Disability Service, you will receive an email that will provide you with the necessary instructions to register for the GRE Test.
Can I Take the GRE Test in a language other than English?
Both the GRE General Test and the GRE Subject Tests are held in English and cannot be taken in another language. However, in test centers where English is not the native language, the staff might not have the best English abilities.
Is an English Proficiency Test Necessary for Nonnative English Speakers Taking the GRE Test?
Even though the Graduate Record Examinations do not measure English proficiency, they measure skills that are crucial in higher education institutions where English is the language of instruction. Therefore, scores from an English proficiency test can help the people who make the decision to better understand the scores of the GRE Test. In essence, if you are a non-native English speaker and have a low score in Analytical Writing, the deciding people can extract information from your TOEFL score that will better help them in interpreting your low GRE score.
How do I improve a Low GRE Score?
Just because your first attempt at GRE did not go well, it does not mean you will not be able to do well the next time. The Graduate Record Examination may be difficult for students coming from non-English speaking countries since it includes obscure words. Therefore, if you think you need more practice it is always possible to retake the test later on. A great thing about this is that you can choose which test scores you send to the university you apply to.
Reporting the GRE Test Scores
Once you finish your test, you are given the option of reporting or canceling your scores. If you decide to report your scores, they will become a part of your reportable history and you will not be able to cancel them. Therefore, it is important that you think thoroughly about the decision you want to make once you finish the GRE Test.
GRE General Test
As one of the most required tests for graduate studies, the GRE General Test plays a crucial role in the admission process of the majority of universities around the world. As it is the most widely accepted test for graduate admission, taking the GRE test means that you are taking one great step towards your future. You can notice world-famous universities like the University of Harvard, MIT, CalTech, University of Oxford, Princeton University and many more accept the GRE General Test scores.
The test is a standardised test administered by the Educational Testing Service or ETS and it is used to measure skills such as your analytical writing skills, verbal and quantitative reasoning, and critical thinking - skills that show your readiness for graduate school.
The test is indeed widely accepted and it is administered in more than 160 countries of the world, giving students all around the world the opportunity to kick start their journey towards their graduate studies. Taking the GRE General Test is a good option not only for those students who already know what they are going to study but also for those who have not decided yet. Among the things that make this test a great option even for students who are not sure what to study yet is its long validity - its scores being valid for five years after taking the test.
How Much Does the GRE General Test Cost?
The standard fee for taking the GRE General Test in most of the countries where the test is administered is $205. There are some exceptions in countries like:
- Australia ($230)
- China ($231.30)
- India ($213)
- Nigeria ($226)
- Turkey ($255)
Which Forms of Payment Are Accepted by ETS?
You can pay for your GRE General Test or GRE Subject Test fees with:
- Credit/Debit Card (American Express®, Visa®, Master Card®, China UnionPay®, Diners Club International®, Discover®, and JCB®)
- Money Order/Certified Check/Voucher
- For test takers from Nigeria, the only acceptable forms of payment are Visa and PayPal
Note that cash payments are not accepted by ETS!
Do I Get a Refund If I Decide To Cancel the Registration?
ETS has established refund policies for students that want to cancel their registration. In order to receive a refund, you should cancel your registration no later than four days before the date your test is scheduled. Unless you do not follow the proper registration procedures, you will be able to get your refund, which will be in U.S dollars (No Cash Refund).
For Korean students, the refund policy is a bit different. If you want to get a 100 percent refund you have 7 days to cancel your registration (unless you are canceling 4 days before your test date, on the day of your test, or if the test date has passed). If you cancel 8 days after you register you get a 50 percent refund and if you cancel your registration when there are 4 or fewer days left before the test day you get no refund.
Same as Korean students, test takers from Mainland China should also reschedule or cancel their test at least 10 days before their test date.
How is the GRE General Test Scored?
You will receive scores on the three sections of the GRE General Test - Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. The maximum score that you can reach in the GRE General Test is 340. The first section is always Analytical Writing where you can get a score from 0 to 6, with 6 being the highest. The score in this section is measured based on two essay questions.
In both the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections you can get a 130 to 170 score. In these sections, you will receive scores based on the number of questions you answer correctly. Once you receive your scores you can choose up to four universities to send them to.
Sending your scores is done through the ScoreSelect® option. You have two options when it comes to sending your scores:
- Send score reports (most recent or all) for FREE on test day
- Send score reports (most recent, all or any) for a fee after test day
Note that schools will not see how many times you have taken a test unless you decide to send scores from all test administrations.
How Many Times Can I Take the GRE General Test?
You can take the GRE General Test on a continuous basis the whole year-round. The test is offered five times per year and you can enter the test five times once every 21 days. However, there are exceptions for students who come from Mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Korea can only take the GRE General Test up to three times per month.
In case you live somewhere where you cannot take the test at a physical test center, then you can take the test at home. In these cases where computer-based testing is not available, the number of times you can take the test is three times per year.
What is a Good GRE Score?
When thinking about what GRE score you should have or what is a good GRE score, it is important to know which university you would like to apply to in order to know that. Based on your choice of the university, you can then know what GRE score you should aim for.
The reason why knowing which university or universities you are going to apply to is important when taking the test is that you can then look into the average GRE scores of your desired program of study.
Can I Change the Date or Location of my Test?
ETS offers students the opportunity to change the date or location of their test. If you have registered for a certain date you must change your test registration no later than four days before the test takes place. If you fail to do so your test fee will be forfeited.
If you wish to take the test in another location than the one you registered for you can do that by using your ETS account or you can call GRE Services listed at the test dates. Students who wish to change their testing center will be charged a fee!
How Many Sections Does the GRE General Test Have?
The GRE general test has a total of six sections:
- Analytical Writing - 2 tasks
- Verbal Reasoning - 20 questions
- Quantitative Reasoning - 20 questions
Overview of the GRE Analytical Writing Section
The first section of the GRE General Test is Analytical Writing. This section consists of two essays with 30 minutes to complete each. What you will have to do in this section is analyze an issue and an argument. When you are at this section, make sure to go straight to the point with your answers and not try to embellish since your graders will most likely focus on your logic rather than the nice words.
What will be measured in this section is your ability to think critically, to articulate, and support ideas with examples. This section also tests your ability to construct and evaluate arguments, sustain a coherent discussion rather than assessing specific content knowledge. Two tasks that will be presented to you are:
- Analyze an Issue: This task requires you to follow specific instructions in evaluating the issue presented, consider the complexities of the issue and come up with reasonable solutions and examples to support your views.
- Analyze an Argument: This task requires you to evaluate an argument again by following specific instructions. In this case, you should focus more on the logical soundness of the argument rather than agreeing or disagreeing with the position that the speaker has taken.
Both these tasks complement each other since one requires you to form an argument and support it with relevant evidence, hence taking a position, whereas the other requires you to evaluate an argument stated by another person while assessing the provided evidence and claims of the person posing the argument.
TIPS: Each student should know that spending time preparing for the exam is crucial. So, before your test date, take some time to review the strategies, topics, essay responses, and scoring guides for both tasks. You should also use your time wisely since you have a 30-minute time limit for both tasks. Once you take into consideration the issue and the instructions that have been given to you, you should plan what your response will be and start writing your essay.
Examples of the Analytical Writing Section can be found here!
Overview of the GRE Verbal Reasoning Section
The section of Verbal Reasoning consists of three types of questions. The test appears in different formats where you will be required to read passages and answer questions related to those passages. You will also be asked to read, interpret and complete sentences or paragraphs. The passages that are part of this section are usually adapted from published materials in order to present to you significant problems to evaluate and analyze.
In this section of the test, you will be tested based on how well you can articulate complex ideas in a clear and effective manner. You will also be tested on your ability to support your ideas with relevant examples and will have to analyze parts of sentences to determine the relationships between words and concepts. The section of Verbal Reasoning consists of 20 questions in total, which are divided into three types:
Type 1: Sentence Equivalence Questions
Questions in this section consist of single sentences with a blank space you have to fill out. These questions have six answer choices, and you will be required to select two of them as the correct answer.
TIPS: When answering Sentence Equivalence Questions, make sure you read and understand the sentence. You should also identify which words or phrases are significant and play a crucial role in understanding the meaning of the sentence. Once you pick your choices, check that the sentence is logical and does not have any grammatical errors.
Type 2: Text Completion Questions
Questions in this section test your ability to absorb information as well as your ability to maintain a continuous attitude of evaluation and interpretation towards the text you are reading. In this section, you will have passages that are composed of one to five sentences and with one to three blanks for you to fill in.
TIPS: To make sure you answer every question correctly, read carefully through the text or passage you have in front of you. Determine which words are more or less the same and may be crucial to understand that passage. Also, something very important to know is that the first blank does not necessarily have to be the first one you fill in. You can start with others that seem easier instead of wasting time on questions you are not sure of.
Type 3: Reading Comprehension Questions
These types of questions are designed to test your ability to read and understand prose passages that are practiced in graduate school. This is where you will have to prove that you understand the meaning behind individual words, sentences, passages, and make a difference between minor and major points. Also, you will be tested if you are able to analyze a text, summarize a passage, and reason from incomplete data in order to understand what the missing information can be about.
The Reading Comprehension test contains around 10 passages that may be from one to several paragraphs long. Questions can be from a wide range of subjects such as social sciences, physical sciences, biological sciences, art and humanities, biology, or they are based on everyday topics, and academic or nonacademic books.
TIPS: As dealing with reading comprehension can be quite a common task for students, the strategies that should be used in this section might be familiar to you. A good reader knows that the right steps to take when dealing with these types of questions are identifying the main idea, summarize, using prior knowledge you might have related to what is in the passage, and skim and scam.
Examples of the Verbal Reasoning Questions can be found here!
Overview of the GRE Quantitative Reasoning Section
In the Quantitative Reasoning section, you will be tested based on your basic mathematical skills, your ability to understand the elementary mathematical concepts, and your ability to solve problems using quantitative methods as well as reasoning quantitatively.
Your skills and abilities will be assessed based on these four areas:
- Algebra: Topics in this area include solving equations, coordinate geometry, and operations with exponents.
- Arithmetic: Topics here include divisibility, prime numbers, factorization, arithmetic operations, and concepts such as ratio, rate, decimal representations, and the number line.
- Geometry: In Geometry, topics include triangles, circles, parallel and perpendicular lines, three-dimensional figures, the Pythagorean theorem, quadrilaterals, perimeter, volume, and angle measurement in degrees.
- Data Analysis: Some of the topics in this area include basic descriptive statistics, interpretation of data in graphs and tables, random variables, probability distributions.
What Does the Section of Quantitative Reasoning Measure?
In general, the questions in the Quantitative Reasoning section come from topics that are usually taught in high school algebra courses and they assess your basic mathematical skills, how much you understand the elementary math concepts, and they test your ability to solve and model problems with quantitative methods.
There are four types of questions in this section:
- Questions with multiple choices (one right answer)
- Questions with multiple choices (one or more right choices)
- Quantitative Comparison Questions
- Questions with Numeric Entry
TIPS: When you fill out the Quantitative Reasoning section make sure you understand the problem first. This is crucial because some information in this section can be given in words, and others can be given in words, mathematical expressions, or both. Another step is having a strategy for solving the problem of a certain question. This strategy can include steps like what mathematical facts to use and how and when to use them in order to solve a problem. One last important step you must do is check your answer. This is crucial because when you check your answer you know if your answer is reasonable in relation to the context of the question and you can see if you have made any computational mistakes (you can use a basic calculator in this section).
Examples of the Quantitative Reasoning Questions can be found here!
How Long Does the GRE General Test last?
The GRE General Test lasts 3 hours and 45 minutes. The estimated time per each section is as follows:
One section Two Tasks
30 minutes per Task
30 minutes per Section
30 minutes per Section
Note that your check-in time at the testing center is not included in the estimated time above. ETS recommends that all students arrive at the test center at least 30 minutes before the test begins. Therefore, make sure you come fully prepared and most importantly on time.
The Unidentified Unscored Section
The Unscored Section does not count toward the score and usually appears after the Analytical Writing section. Questions in this section are included with the purpose of trying out whether they would be proper options to use for future tests. Another function of these questions is to ensure that there can be a comparison made between scores of new and earlier editions of the test.
The Identified Research Section
The Research Section always appears at the end of the test. This section does not impact your score either and its questions are included in the test for ETS research purposes.
Note that sections that are part of the GRE General Test may appear in any order. Therefore, you are advised to treat each section as if it will have an impact on your score.
The GRE Subject Tests
In addition to the GRE General Test, you can also take one of the GRE Subject Tests. The GRE Subject Test is a paper-delivered only exam and its scores are used as supporting documents of students applying for their graduate studies. These tests are designed to measure students' knowledge of a particular subject or field of study. Therefore, taking one of the GRE Subject Tests is also one way of making your application stand out from other students.
What Subjects Does the GRE® Subject Test include?
When it comes to the subjects that are included in the GRE Subject Test, each one of these tests is intended for students that have an undergraduate
- Literature in English
- Physics, and
After the April 2021 administration, the GRE Literature in English Test and the GRE Biology Test will be discontinued. However, in concordance to the GRE score reporting policy, scores on both tests will continue to be reportable for five years. Note that you cannot take more than one Subject Test per test date.
The GRE Biology Test
This type of test contains around 180 multiple choice questions on three different topics:
- Cellular and Molecular Biology (33 - 34%)
- Organismal Biology, (33 - 34%) and
- Ecology and Evolution (33 - 34%)
Questions in this section are distributed by categories as shown below:
CELLULAR AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY (33-34%)
This part addresses the fundamentals of cellular biology, molecular biology, and genetics. Some of the major topics in cellular structure and function include eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells, the regulation of metabolic pathways major topics in cellular structure and function include the dynamics of the membrane and cell surfaces, organelles, and cell cycle, eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells, metabolic pathways and their regulation. Major areas in genetics and molecular biology include viruses, genomic organization and maintenance, and the regulation of gene expression, and chromatin and chromosomal structure. The mechanisms of antigen-antibody, as well as the cellular basis of immunity, are included. Attention is also given to experimental methodology.
- Cellular Structure and Function(16-17%). This includes biological compounds; enzyme activity, receptor binding, and regulation; major metabolic pathways and regulation; membrane dynamics and cell surfaces; organelles: structure, function, synthesis, and targeting; cytoskeleton: motility and shape; cell cycle: growth, division, and regulation; methods - microscopy, separation, immunological.
- Genetics and Molecular Biology (16-17%). This includes genetic foundations; chromatin and chromosomes; genome sequence organization; genome maintenance; gene expression and regulation in prokaryotes and eukaryotes: mechanisms; gene expression and regulation: effects; immunobiology; bacteriophages, animal viruses, and plant viruses; recombinant DNA methodology.
Note that Cellular and Molecular Biology have been discontinued but scores still continue to be reportable.
ORGANISMAL BIOLOGY (33-34)
This part addresses the structure, physiology, behavior, and development of organisms. Including topics like the regulation of fluids, heterotrophic organisms, gas exchange, internal transport, control mechanisms and effectors, and nutrient procurement and processing. There are also examples of developmental phenomena ranging from fertilization through differentiation and morphogenesis. Considering that the responses to environmental stimuli pertain to organisms they are also examined. This part also includes the phylogenetic relationships and the distinguishing characteristics of organisms.
- Animal Structure, Function, and Organization (10%). Includes exchange with the environment; internal transport and exchange; support and movement; integration and control mechanisms; behavior, and metabolic rates.
- Animal Reproduction and Development (6%). Includes reproductive structures; meiosis, gametogenesis, and fertilization; early development; developmental processes; external control mechanisms.
- The Structure, Function, and Organization of Plants, with Emphasis on Flowering Plants (7%). Includes Organs, tissue systems, and tissues, water transport, including absorption and transpiration; phloem transport and storage; mineral nutrition; plant energetics.
- Reproduction of Plants, their Growth and Development, with Emphasis on Flowering Plants (5%). Includes growth; embryogeny and seed development; reproductive structures; gametogenesis and fertilization, meiosis and sporogenesis; meristems, morphogenesis, and differentiation..
- Diversity of Life (6%). Includes archaea, bacteria; Protista; fungi; Animalia with emphasis on major phyla; Plantae with emphasis on major phyla.
ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION (33-34%)
This part addresses the interactions between organisms in their environment, with emphasis on the biological principles at levels above the individual. The ecological topics cover physiological adaptations as well as the functioning of ecosystems. Questions in the ecology and evolution part may also consider the applications to current environmental problems. The genetic foundations, as well as the evolutionary processes and their consequences, are some of the topics in this section. Evolution is considered at the individual, molecular population, and higher levels. In this section, it may be required to have some quantitative skills, including the interpretation of simple mathematical models.
- Ecology (16-17%). Includes environmental/organism interaction; behavioral ecology; population ecology; community ecology; ecosystems.
- Evolution (16-17%). Includes genetic variability; macroevolutionary and microevolutionary processes; evolutionary consequences; and history of life.
TIPS: Prospective test-takers of the Biology test should find materials based on the above-mentioned topics since the test will contain questions based on them. It is important to test yourself before you take the test. So make sure that while you are studying, you also take one of the preparatory tests offered by the ETS.
The official practice book for the GRE Biology Test can be found here.
The Chemistry Tests consist of a total of 130 multiple-choice questions. The test booklet will have a periodic table in a printed version, a table of information that consists of various physical constants. Considering that the questions in this test simplify mathematical manipulations you will not need a calculator or tables of logarithms. Note that there are four fields of chemistry you will be tested on, and questions of different fields of chemistry might be intertwined.
What is the Content of the Chemistry Test?
The Content of the GRE Chemistry Test includes the four following areas:
- Analytical Chemistry. This part makes up 25% of the test and it includes data acquisition, homogeneous and heterogeneous equilibria, use of statistics, environmental applications, solutions and standardization, and radiochemical methods.
- Inorganic Chemistry. This part also makes up 25% of the test and it includes general chemistry, ionic substances, covalent molecular substances, metals and semiconductors, concepts of acids and bases, the chemistry of the transition elements, the chemistry of the main group elements, and special topics.
- Organic Chemistry. This part makes up 30% of the test and it includes Structure, Bonding and Nomenclature, Functional Groups, Reaction Mechanisms, Reactive Intermediates, Organometallics, and Special Topics such as molecular orbital theory, resonance, catalysis, acid-base theory, asymmetric synthesis, carbohydrates, etc.
- Physical Chemistry. This part makes up 30% of the test and it includes Thermodynamics, Quantum Chemistry, and Applications to Spectroscopy, and Dynamics.
TIPS: Considering that the test is designed for students who are already familiar with chemistry the best way to prepare for this test is to take your undergraduate chemistry coursework and start reviewing the materials.
The official practice book for the GRE Chemistry Test can be found here.
Literature in English Test
The Literature in English Test contains around 230 questions on literary theory, biography, poetry, essay, novels, short stories, drama, criticism, and the history of language.
Questions in this test can be divided into two groups:
- Factual Questions. These questions require you to identify characteristics, note, identify a writer or work described in short critical comments, or find the author based on the content and style of a short paragraph.
- Analytical Questions. These questions require you to examine a certain passage of prose or poetry and answer questions about the literary techniques, structure, form and meaning, and the various aspects of language.
What is the content of the Literature in English Test?
The literary-historical scope of the GRE Literature in English Test is as shown below:
- Literary Analysis. In this part, you may be required to interpret passages of prose and poetry. Questions may range from allusions and references, meaning and tone, literary techniques, etc. This part makes up 40-50% of the test.
- Identification. In this section, you will be required to recognize the date, author, and work by the style or content presented to you. This part makes up 15-20% of the test.
- Cultural and Historical Contexts. In this section, you will be tested based on your knowledge of literary, cultural, and intellectual history. You will also be required to identify details of a character, plot, or setting of a work. This part makes up 20-25% of the test.
- History and Theory of Literary Criticism. In this section, you will be asked to identify and analyze the characteristics and methods of a variety of theoretical and critical approaches.
The literary areas included in the test are:
- British Literature (1660-1925); 25-35%
- British Literature to 1660 (including Milton); 25-30%
- American, British, and World Literatures after the year 1925; 20-30%
- American Literature through the year 1925; 15 - 25 %
- Continental, Classical and Comparative Literature through the year 1925; 5 - 10%
TIPS: Something that may trouble test takers are the questions that they found most difficult and might make them think the whole test is made of those difficult areas. Note that the material in this test is not difficult and you might get the maximum scores even if you do not answer all the questions correctly.
The official practice book for the GRE Literature in English Test can be found here.
The GRE Mathematics Test
This test is taken by undergraduate students that know the curriculum of an undergraduate mathematics degree. The GRE Mathematics Test consists of 66 multiple-choice questions. These questions test your knowledge of the foundations of math as well as your knowledge of advanced mathematical concepts.
What is the content of the GRE Mathematics Test?
- Calculus. 50% of the questions in the GRE Mathematics Test involve material that is learned in elementary calculus courses. The test also includes calculus-based applications and connections with the different branches of mathematics.
- Algebra. 25% of the questions in this section include elementary algebra, linear algebra, abstract algebra, and number theory.
- Additional Topics. 25% of the test consists of introductory real analysis, discrete mathematics, and other topics such as general topology, complex variables, probability and statistics, geometry, and numerical analysis.
TIPS: If you manage to take all the above-mentioned courses, it is definitely going to help your score. However, a good understanding of only calculus and linear algebra can yield a satisfactory score. Prospective students should know that questions that require a good precalculus background can be among the most difficult questions in this test.
The official practice book for the GRE Mathematics Test can be found here.
The aim of the Physics Test is to determine whether students have a grasp of fundamental principles and if they are able to use these principles when solving problems. The test consists of questions that you can answer based on what you learned during the first three years of undergraduate physics. Considering that the test questions simplify mathematical manipulations, you do not need to have a calculator or tables of logarithms. The test consists of around 100 questions. Each question has a five-choice answer.
What is the Content of the Physics Test?
- Classical Mechanics. With 20% Classical Mechanics makes up the most part of the test. It includes Newton’s laws, work, and energy, rotational motion about a fixed axis, central forces and celestial mechanics, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formalism, etc.
- Electromagnetism. This part makes up 18% of the test and it includes electrostatics, magnetic fields in free space, Maxwell’s equations and their applications, electromagnetic waves, AC circuits, etc.
- Optics and Wave Phenomena. This part of the exam includes wave properties, interference, Doppler effect, diffraction, etc. It makes up 9% of the test.
- Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics. This part makes up 10% of the test and it includes laws of thermodynamics, thermodynamic processes, kinetic ensembles, thermal expansion, and heat transfer, etc)
- Quantum Mechanics. This part makes up 12% of the test and it includes fundamental concepts, solutions of the Schrodinger equation, angular momentum, etc.
- Atomic Physics. This part makes up 10% of the test and it includes properties of electrons, atomic structure, atomic spectra, atoms in electric and magnetic fields, etc.
- Special Relativity. This part makes up 6% of the test and it includes introductory concepts, length contraction, energy and momentum, velocity addition, etc.
- Laboratory Methods. This part makes up 6% of the test and it includes data and error analysis, electronics, radiation detection, lasers and optical interferometers, dimensional analysis, etc.
- Specialized Topics. These topics make up 9% of the test and they include nuclear and particle physics condescended matter and miscellaneous.
TIPS: If you decide to take this test you should become familiar with certain mathematical methods and know how they are applied in physics. You may encounter these methods in various content categories of the test, as well as in the specialized category mentioned above. To be as prepared as possible you can use the practice book of the test offered by ETS.
The official practice book for the GRE Psychology Test can be found here.
Students that take the Psychology test are students who have majored in psychology. The test consists of 205 multiple-choice questions each with five answer options and one correct answer. Questions in this type of test may require you to recall factual information, analyze relationships, apply principles, evaluate a research design or draw conclusions from data.
What is the Content of the Psychology Test?
- Biological (17-21%). Includes Sensation and Perception and Physiological/Behavioral Neuroscience.
- Cognitive (17-24%). Includes Learning, Language, Memory, and Thinking.
- Social (12-14%). Includes Evolutionary Psychology, Cultural or Gender Influences, Aggression, Attitudes and Behavior, Cognition, Attribution, Beliefs, Social Comparison, Social Perception, Emotion, Motivation, Influence, Persuasion, Interpersonal Attraction, Theories, and Application, etc.
- Developmental (12-14%). Includes Nature-Nurture, Physical and Motor, Perception and Cognition, Language, Learning, Intelligence, Social, Personality, Emotion, Socialization, Family and Cultural, Theories Applications and Issues.
- Clinical. (15-19%). Includes Personality, Clinical and Abnormal
- Measurement/Methodology/Other (15-19%). This part includes history, industrial-organizational and educational psychology, Measurement, and Methodology.
TIPS: It is important to become familiar with the structure and content of the test before taking the test. Know that all the editions of the GRE Psychology Tests adhere to the terminology, classifications, and criteria that are referred to in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) fifth edition. You can use some of the stimulus materials as a basis for several questions of the test.
The official practice book for the GRE Psychology Test can be found here.
GRE Subject Tests Fees
The cost of GRE® Subject Tests is the same in all countries with a fee of $150. There may be additional fees for special requests such as rescheduling the test ($50), changing the test center ($50), changing the Subject Test ($50), and standby testing ($50).
How long does the GRE Subject Test last?
In comparison to the GRE General Test, taking one of the six GRE Subject Tests takes less time. Prospective test takers should be prepared to spend 2.5 hours when taking one of the GRE Subject Tests. Although the tests are all on different subjects the duration of each test is the same.
How Many Times Per Year Can I Take the GRE Subject Test?
In contrast to the GRE General Test, GRE Subject Tests are offered only three times per year. This includes:
How are the GRE Subject Tests Scored?
All subjects that are part of the Graduate Record Examination yield a total score on a 200 to 900 score scale, in 10-point increments.
Tests in subjects such as Biology, Physic, and Psychology yield subscores on a 20-99 score scale, in one-point increments. Each of these subscores occupies only a part of the 20 to 99 score range.
The estimated time for processing your request to send your GRE scores is around five business days. In case that you are close to the date at which your scores are no longer reportable, make sure you send your request early enough for them to be processed.
How to Prepare for the GRE Subject Tests?
Each person that decides to take the GRE Subject Tests should know that there are steps to take in order to prepare as much as possible for the test. These steps you take determine whether or not you will do well on the test. Some of the most important things you should do before and during the test are shown below:
It's common knowledge that you should study before a test. Although you may be quite good in the field you plan to study, you still need to devote between 4 to 12 weeks of study time to prepare for the exam. Considering that the GRE Subject Test is a test of patterns, you will need time to prepare. Therefore, it is not advisable to try and cram before the exam.
Take the Practice Tests
As you may know, ETS offers Practice Tests for each subject. It is important that you become familiar with the structure of the test, the directions, types of questions so that you can feel as comfortable as possible on test day. By taking the practice tests you will see what topics will most likely appear on the test and you will get to practice and review the parts that you find the hardest to complete. ETS recommends that you register as early as possible in order to receive the free materials.
Read the Test Directions
On test day, make sure you read all the test directions carefully. It is important that you work fast but not as fast that you become negligent of certain questions. Since all the questions have the same value, do not waste your time with questions you find difficult or that are unknown to you.
Note that when taking the test you will mark your answers on a separate sheet since they will be the only ones that count (answers in your test book will not count). Therefore, you should not wait until the last minute to transfer your answers on your answer sheet.
What to Know Before and During GRE Test Day
Before Test Day
On Test Day
During your morning:
During the test:
GRE General Test Study Plan
The appropriate amount of time you need to prepare for the GRE General Test is anywhere between 8 to 12 weeks. The more you practice, the better it will be - remember that practice makes perfect. Keep in mind: the study week in this GRE study plan is 6 days long because Sundays are reserved for resting and unwinding.
Before you begin scrolling through Erudera’s GRE study plan, remember the following abbreviations: Analytical Writing (AW), Verbal Reasoning (VR), and Quantitative Reasoning (QR). In addition, subsections of the VR sections are abbreviated as follows: Reading Comprehension (RC), Text Completion (TC), and Sentence Equivalence (SE).
|My 12-Week GRE General Test Study Plan|
Before I Begin
Before you begin, make sure that you are fully committed to allocating these 12 weeks to GRE. Get in the right state of mind by preparing the following:
Notebooks | pens, pencils, highlighters | comfortable study space | playlist to concentrate (optional) | all study materials in organized folders | vocab flashcards
My Focus Area/Study Plan
1. Understand what the General GRE requires.
2. Differentiate between AW, VR, and QR.
3. Track my progress through note-taking.
4. Be confident and eager to learn.
Monday: Read the GRE Guide, briefly overview each section’s sample questions.
Tuesday: Focus specifically on the AW section.
Analyze an Issue Task and an Argument Task.
Wednesday: Focus specifically on the VR section.
Complete all sections: RC, TC, and SE.
Thursday: Focus specifically on the QR section.
Complete an (untimed) QR sample test.
Friday: Go through your notes up until now. Locate the sections you found difficult.
Complete an (untimed) sample test.
Saturday: Go through Friday’s notes.
Full-length (untimed) practice.
The first week might be the most difficult, specifically because you do not know what to expect.
During this week, remember:
1. Identify my strengths and weaknesses.
2. Take notes to track my progress.
3. Better understand each of the General GRE sections.
Monday: Review last week’s notes in detail. Complete an ‘Analyze an Issue Task.’
Tuesday: Complete an ‘Analyze an Argument Task’
Wednesday: Focus on VR. Practice RC, TC, and SE.
Thursday: Focus on QR. (Quantitative Comparison Questions).
Friday: QR section. (Multiple-Choice Questions and Numeric Entry Questions).
Saturday: Full-length (untimed) practice.
1. Gain a deeper understanding of what is required of me in the AW section.
2. Take notes to track my progress.
3. Enrich my vocabulary through vocab flashcards*.
4. Strengthen my critical thinking and argumentation skills.
Monday: Review AW strengths and weaknesses.
Tuesday: Focus on AW.
(Analyze an Argument Task).
Wednesday: Focus on AW.
(Analyze an Issue Task).
Thursday: Review notes. Repeat Tuesday.
Friday: Review notes. Repeat Wednesday.
Saturday: Review notes. Full-length (untimed) AW practice.
The AW section will test your critical thinking and ability to understand, analyze and evaluate arguments, for which you need to be well-rested and motivated.
Schedule your study time depending on the time of day you feel most productive.
*Vocabulary flashcards: You can create your own advanced vocabulary flashcards or buy them online.
1. Better understand the VR section and what it requires.
2. Take notes to track my progress.
3. Strengthen my ability to understand the facts and derive inferences from texts.
Monday: Review VR strengths and weaknesses.
Tuesday: Focus on VR.
Wednesday: Focus on VR.
Thursday: Focus on VR.
Friday: Review notes.
Focus on your weakness (RC, TC, or SE).
Saturday: Full-length VR (untimed) practice.
RC: Read with a clear mind. Do not let the stress of the moment overwhelm your ability to understand.
TC: You can skip blanks and complete what you are sure of first. You can paraphrase the text or divide it into sentences if you find it easier. In the end, read the passage to see if it makes sense.
SE: After you make your choices, go back to the sentence to see if it makes sense (and is grammatically and syntactically correct).
1. Better understand the QR section and its requirements.
2. Identify QR question types and areas of focus: Algebra, Arithmetic, Geometry, and Data Analysis.
3. Take notes to track my progress.
Monday: Review QR strengths and weaknesses.
Tuesday: Focus on QR.
(Quantitative Comparison Questions).
Wednesday: Focus on QR.
(One Answer / Multiple-Choice Questions).
Thursday: Focus on QR.
(One or More Answer / Multiple-Choice Questions).
Friday: Focus on QR.
(Numeric Entry Questions).
Saturday: Full-length QR (untimed) practice.
Focusing on all question types within the QR section will help you better prepare for this section, although it might seem intimidating at first.
Go through sample tests, try to find the correct answers, and note your weaknesses because you will need to work on them in the following weeks.
1. Practice all sections of the General GRE.
2. Be more confident.
3. Track my weaknesses and strengths.
Monday: Review notes from weeks 3, 4, and 5 in detail.
Tuesday: Full-length AW (untimed) practice.
Wednesday: Full-length VR (untimed) practice.
Thursday: Full-length QR (untimed) practice.
Friday: Review strengths and weaknesses. Full-length (untimed) practice.
Saturday: Full-length (untimed) practice.
Simply focus on each section per day; it will make it easier for you to track your weaknesses.
Week 6 will also help you see where you stand when it comes to time constraints.
1. I will focus on each QR subject area.
2. Become more confident in my mathematical skills.
3. Review Algebra, Arithmetic, Geometry, and Data Analysis essentials (on different difficulty levels).
4. Of course, track my progress.
Monday: Review QR strengths and weaknesses.
Tuesday: Focus on the QR section. Practice Algebra basics.
Wednesday: Practice Arithmetic basics.
Thursday: Practice Geometry basics.
Friday: Practice Data Analysis.
Saturday: Full-length QR (timed) practice.
A few tips:
1. I will focus on the VR section.
2. Become more confident when it comes to my reading/understanding skills.
3. Note my strengths and weaknesses.
Monday: Review VR strengths and weaknesses.
Tuesday: Focus on Reading Comprehension.
Wednesday: Focus on Text Completion.
Thursday: Focus on Sentence Equivalence.
Friday*: Focus on RC, TC, or SE, depending on your weakness.
Saturday: Full-length VR (timed) practice.
Simply stay calm and focused.
Make sure you have no outside disturbances.
*Friday: Focus on the area you think you have the most trouble with. It can be one of the three or all three. It depends on you.
1. Strengthen my AW skills.
2. Enrich my vocabulary through flashcards*.
3. Track my progress.
Monday: Review AW strengths and weaknesses.
Go through sample tasks.
Tuesday: Complete 2 ‘Analyze an Issue Tasks.’
Wednesday: Complete 2 ‘Analyze an Argument Tasks.’
Thursday: Full-length AW (untimed) practice.
Focus on your vocabulary by using your vocab flashcards.
Friday: Review notes. Go through strengths and weaknesses.
Focus on your vocabulary.
Saturday: Full-length (timed) AW practice.
*You should continually strive to enrich your vocabulary so you can better argue your thoughts and evaluations.
1. Strengthen my skills in each GRE section.
2. Focus on my weaknesses across each section.
3. Note my progress.
Monday: Review progress.
Tuesday: Focus on QR -
Algebra and Arithmetic essentials.
Wednesday: Focus on QR - Geometry and Data Analysis essentials.
Thursday: Focus on VR.
RC, TC, and SE.
Friday: Focus on AW.
Saturday: Full-length (timed) practice.
Week 10 will likely find you rather prepared for the General GRE.
During this week, try not to give up and find motivation (and not the contrary) in your progress.
1. Further practice each GRE section and become even more confident in my skillset.
2. Take a look at my notes and organize my week depending on my weaknesses.
3. Ace my timed, full-length practice test.
Monday: Review progress. Organize your weaknesses and strengths into two separate sections.
Tuesday: AW day.
Wednesday: VR day.
Thursday: QR day.
Friday: Full-length (untimed) practice.
Saturday: Full-length (timed) practice.
By this point, if you find that you are doing particularly well on, let’s say, the VR section, you can focus your time on the other two sections. Thus, replace VR day with either AW or QR weaknesses.
1. Become even better prepared to complete each section within the time frame.
2. Finalize my General GRE Study Plan.
Monday: Review progress.
Tuesday: Focus on QR.
Wednesday: Focus on VR.
Thursday: Focus on AW.
Friday: Full-length (timed) practice.
Saturday: Full-length (timed) practice.
This is the last week of your GRE study plan, so you should make full use of it.
Do not let yourself get carried away by the thought that you might have practiced enough; instead, use this week to end the preparation period on good terms with yourself.
Intensive Wrap-Up Review
What’s a study plan without a review! Whatever time you have left after your 12-week study plan, you can use it for an intensive wrap-up review. If you have followed Erudera’s plan, you are likely well-prepared for the GRE General Test; however, use any time you have left to review what you have studied in the previous weeks!
Here’s what Erudera recommends:
And It’s a Wrap
Congratulations! You have successfully completed your General GRE study plan and a 12-week preparation period. Although the advised study time frame is anywhere between 8-12 weeks (which means this could have been an 8-week study plan), the more you practice, the better.
If you want to shrink this 12-week plan into an 8-week one, simply remove the following weeks: 6, 10, 11, and 12. Although, we would not suggest it! Good luck!
About the author
Tyler Robinson received a degree in Computer Engineering at Virginia State University with a world-class education and a great deal of personal growth.
There is just so much that Tyler can do and just as much information he can offer. So, one day, he decided that he will contribute to the world for the better - in one way or another. One student at a time (or all at once). This is where Erudera comes into play.
Tyler works as a freelance software engineer but, in addition to this, he also writes for Erudera. His goal is to guide undergraduate students to fulfill their academic goals - anything related to graduate school (and more).
Do you know why he is such an excellent fit for Erudera and an ideal guide to any of your academic aspirations? Because he is an ambitious mind himself, ready to tackle any obstacle the world (and graduate school) can bring.