What is the GRE?

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Updated September 28, 2022

If you are in the process of reviewing admissions requirements, you may be asking yourself, "What is the GRE?" This is a common question asked by prospective students planning to enter into advanced degree programs. A majority of schools will require that students score at least 450 to 500 on each of the GRE tests before they will be granted admission into a Master's degree program. Post graduate scores may need to be higher (550 or higher) to gain entry because the competition is more serious. Read on to find out more about this admissions test, its layout, and why schools rely on these scores so heavily when reviewing admissions applications.

What Does GRE Stand For?

The GRE stands for Graduate Record Examination. It is an admissions test that will assess your verbal and quantitative skills to determine if you have the academic prowess to complete graduate level coursework. An advanced degree program will use advanced curriculum, and not all undergraduate students are prepared to complete this work and grasp the subject matter when they earn their undergraduate degree. This is why it is so imperative that students with intentions of attending a graduate school immediately or some time in the near future should schedule their exam during their senior year while information is still fresh.

What is the Layout of the GRE?

Now that you know what the purpose of the Graduate Record Exam is, the next step is familiarizing yourself with the layout of the test. By getting familiar with the layout, you will improve your chances of receiving an acceptable score as long as you have studies the content and you are comfortable with it. The GRE consists of two separate tests: the General Test and the Subject Test. While the subject test is only required for some majors, you should understand that this score can also affect admittance.

The General Test itself has three different parts which consist of quantitative, verbal and analytical writing, according to the Educational Testing Service website. Of these parts, students can earn anywhere between 200 and 800 points in the verbal and the quantitative section. If you are required to take a subject test, you can earn between 200 and 800 points. You should review the admissions requirements to find out what minimum score you must attain so that you know where to set your sights.

When Should You Take the GRE?

You can take the GRE more than once, so it is best to take your exam as early as possible. If you know that you will be attending a master's degree program at some point in time within the period where your scores will be valid, you should take your exam at some time in your senior year. Most recommend that students take the General Test in November so that the test scores are available during the admissions period. This will allow you enough time to do a retake in December if your scores are not satisfactory.

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It is very important to study for each section of the GRE. Make sure that you register for the exam at least six weeks before you intend on testing. During this time, you can attend study groups and use study guides to gauge whether or not you are prepared. Now that you know the answers to what is the GRE, you can prep.

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