So you’ve decided to go to graduate school and you can’t wait to start sending out your applications. But there may be one thing you need to do first: take the Graduate Record Examination, also known as the GRE®. Although you’d probably prefer to get a root canal or rebuild a septic system than take another entrance exam, some schools do require those scores to admit incoming students. That’s why we’ve compiled the following information you need to make this round of test taking a breeze.
Do you need the GRE?
Before you rush out and sign up for the test, make sure you need it. The GRE is widely accepted at 3,200 graduate schools around the country, but there are also many programs and schools that don’t require those test scores.
So what exactly is the GRE?
GRE stands for Graduate Record Examination and tests your ability to work at the graduate level. It’s conducted by Educational Testing Service, the company behind the SATs. Along with your letters of recommendation, personal statement, and transcript, your test scores will be an important part of your applications.
What’s the format?
Unlike those fill-in-the-bubble tests of yesteryear, the GRE is actually administered on a computer. This means you can take it anytime year-round at a testing facility. (Alternately, if there’s no computer testing facility close to where you live, you can take a paper-based test. The paper-based test is offered in October, November and April.)
What subjects does it cover?
The test covers three areas: analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning. In the analytical writing section, you’ll write two essays: in the first, you’ll present your perspective on one of two topics; in the second, you’ll analyze an argument.
Remember those analogy questions from the SAT? They’re back in the GRE verbal reasoning section, along with their friends: antonyms, sentence completions, and reading comprehension.
The quantitative reasoning section will cover your basic high school math: arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and my personal favorite, data analysis.
How long does it take?
The computer-based test is 3 hours long. (The paper-based test is slightly longer.) You are allowed 45 minutes for the “Issue” essay, 30 minutes for the “Argument” essay, 30 minutes for the verbal reasoning section, and 45 minutes for the quantitative reasoning section. The remainder of the time will be spent on an unscored section, which I’ll get to later.
What’s the cost?
The cost to take the computer-based test anywhere in the United States is $160. This fee includes free test-prep software you can download to help you study. Once you register for the test, your test scores will also be sent to four graduate schools of your choice. (To have your scores sent to additional schools, the cost is $23 per school.)
How should you prepare?
Believe it or not, some things in life are free. You can download complimentary Power Prep Software from the...