Securing admission to the top graduate programs around the world can be a game changer for your career. It can open up the gates to better jobs, better pay scales, and a better career trajectory. But the competitive landscape, with thousands of students competing for a few seats, requires students to strengthen their profiles with the right steps. And taking the GRE test or Graduate Record Exam is the most important step of all – it is a great opportunity for you to build academic credibility and showcase the skills, abilities, and knowledge required to succeed in a rigorous graduate program in the US, the UK, and many other countries.
What is the GRE – A general overview
The GRE exam is a multiple-choice, computer-based, standardised test that is used by thousands of graduate and business programs around the world to assess the potential of the applicants. It is a crucial step to building a holistic college application that selectors and professors will love alike.
General details about the GRE test
- Score validity – The GRE score is valid for five years from the day of the exam.
- Discounts and fee waivers – There are no GRE fee waivers available for international students.
- Student ID requirements – Candidates need to keep their passport with them for ID verification. But according to recent updates, Indian students can also use their Aadhar cards as proof of ID if they don’t have passports.
- Frequency of exam – The exam is conducted several times a year. Students can choose to give the test upto 5 times in a rolling 12 months cycle as long as consecutive tests are at least 21 days apart.
What are the two types of GRE tests?
One of the many questions students have about the GRE is regarding the two different GRE tests – the General test and the subject tests.
GRE General Test
The GRE General Test is a standardised test that assesses the general scholastic abilities of students, making it a prime indicator of future academic success. Divided into three parts, it comprehensively measures skills in analytical writing, quantitative ability, and verbal reasoning and requires significant preparation to ace. It is 3 hours and 45 minutes long.
Students can opt between the computer-based general test and the GRE at Home test.
- GRE Computer-based test – Students can sign up to give their test at a registered centre.
- GRE at Home test – This version was launched during the pandemic to facilitate test-taking while keeping the students safe. Students choosing this format need to check if their computers and workspaces meet the stringent requirements of ETS, the test-conducting body.
GRE Subject Tests
The GRE Subject tests, designed to evaluate the subject-specific skillset of the candidates, are available in four subjects – Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, Psychology. These tests add immense value to applications and help students display superior prowess in their core subjects.
Many universities offering specialities require students to take this test compulsorily, while many others accept scores but don’t have a strict requirement.
It is a paper-delivered test that is held thrice a year in September, October, and April. Candidates have 2 hours and 50 minutes to attempt all the questions. The pattern, syllabus, and strategy varies for each subject.
What has changed in GRE 2024 – Key highlights
Citing changes in learning methodologies and graduate college requirements, ETS has decided to shorten the total duration of the GRE Exam to just under 2 hours from the current 3 hours 45 minutes. The change will be implemented across all testing centres from September 22nd, 2024.
A total of 26 questions have been removed between the quant and verbal sections. The Analytical Writing Assessment has been reduced to just one essay task lasting 30 minutes.
The shorter test will eliminate fatigue and focus on testing true skills instead of endurance and speed.
GRE exam dates for 2024
The GRE Exam is offered throughout the year multiple times every month. Students can sign up for the test according to their own convenience. It is generally advised to take the test at least 2 months before the application deadlines. This spares enough time for students to retake the test, should the need arise.
What is the GRE eligibility criteria?
ETS has long focused on improving equitability and student-access to the GRE test. This philosophy has translated into an approach that allows everyone to sign up for the test, regardless of their academic qualifications or age. But since GRE is meant for graduate courses, applicants are expected to have a valid undergraduate degree from a registered institution.
There are very few cases that might render the candidate ineligible. Those include not meeting the workspace or system requirements for the test during the GRE at Home test, having exhausted all 5 annually allowed attempts, or not carrying valid ID to the centre.
What are the GRE registration fees in India?
The registration fee for the GRE General Test is $228 or nearly Rs. 19,000 while the GRE subject test costs $150 or nearly Rs. 12,500 for all subjects.
Students who are unable to give the test on their registered date, can either cancel or reschedule their test. ETS refunds 50% of the registration amount if they cancel four days before the actual date and it costs $50 to reschedule to another suitable date.
You can visit ETS.org/gre and fill out all the relevant details to sign up for the test.
How to register – Steps for GRE 2024 registration
While there are four ways to register for the GRE – online, phone, mail, fax – the online mode is the most popular. Here’s how you can apply for the GRE online:
- Create an ETS account on the official ets.org/mygre website.
- Choose the type of test you want to take. If you’re choosing the subject test, you’ll have to ascertain which subject.
- Then, choose how you wish to give the test. You can either give it at home, provided you meet the system requirements, or at a designated centre.
- Select the date you want to appear and the test centre closest to you
- Fill in all the academic details and submit the documents.
- Lastly, pay the $228 to confirm your seat.
What is the GRE test structure?
The GRE General Test exam pattern consists of three sections:
- Analytical Writing – This section has just one section with two tasks to be done within 60 minutes.
- Verbal Reasoning – It has two sections for a total of 40 questions that you need to answer in 60 minutes.
- Quantitative Reasoning – You need to answer 40 questions split across two sections in 70 minutes.
How is the GRE scored – GRE score 2024?
Students are scored out of a total of 340 – 170 each for the verbal and quant sections – along with a single digit score between 0 and 6 for the analytical writing section.
While most universities do not specify a minimum GRE score requirement, a competitive score ranges between 315 and 340.
What is the syllabus for GRE 2024?
GRE syllabus for verbal reasoning
The syllabus is largely divided into three parts:
- Reading comprehension
- Sentence equivalence
- Text completion
At the outset, this section might look like a basic English test but it goes much beyond that. It is meant to assess your communication, both verbal and written, skills. You don’t just need to understand words, phrases, and sentences but also be able to draw relationships between them, conclude them, and draw different levels of inferences.
The following topics are usually covered:
- Modifiers and parallelism
- Idioms and idiomatic expressions
- Verb tense
- Pronoun agreement
- Subject-verb agreement
- Nouns, adjectives, and pronouns
GRE syllabus for Quantitative Reasoning
The section is largely divided into four parts:
- Data analysis
You’ll be tested on your mathematical reasoning skills. The questions, although based on basic high school maths, require thorough conceptual understanding and the ability to understand, analyse, and interpret data.
The following topics are usually covered:
|Properties of integers
|Lines and angles
|Powers and roots
|Equations and inequalities
|Permutation and combination
|Linear and quadratic inequalities
|Area, perimeter, volume
|Ratio and proportion
|Speed, distance, time
|Simple and compound interest
|Profit and loss
GRE syllabus for analytical writing
This section has two parts:
- Analysis of an argument – You’re expected to analyse and critically evaluate a given argument.
- Analysis of an issue – You have to analyse an issue and present suitable options according to the instructions provided.
The writing section is often overlooked since it doesn’t add heft to the total GRE score. But that approach can be faulty. The AWA section can be used to showcase your critical thinking, deduction, and evaluative skills. Colleges also use this section to gauge your articulation and argumentative skills.
How to prepare for the GRE exam 2024?
You should devote at least 12 weeks to your GRE preparation if your target is to scale the score of 320+. Here’s 6 basic tips to follow to maximise the results of your prep
- Find your baseline score
With plenty of free GRE tests available online, it’s not hard to unearth your baseline score. This will determine your current skill and aptitude level and highlight the areas you need to work on most.
- Find your target score
Depending on your target university and your baseline score, your target score can change. Generally, it’s best to fix a score that is just above the 75th percentile GRE score of your target university.
Now you know exactly how much ground you need to cover up.
- Collect all your resources
Resources include time, books, videos, tests, and any other prep material you have. Instead of having a scattered list of material, collate and arrange everything topic-wise.
You can also choose to take up a GRE prep course from a leading coaching institute.
- Give mock tests
Give atleast 5 mock tests before the actual test. This will acquaint you with the format, help you hone your test-taking strategy, and build your endurance.
- Analyse the results
Just giving the mocks isn’t enough, you need to analyse the results to find out gaps in your learning. Understand your mistakes, correct them, and do better next time onwards.
- Build up a your vocabulary
This is an underrated tip. Even though vocabulary is not the central focus of the test, a better vocabulary will aid in answering many of the analytical questions. Read books, newspapers, and research journals to shore up your word power.
Continue reading here to build your own GRE study plan.
Importance of GRE mock tests in GRE preparation
Giving GRE mock tests is a crucial aspect of your overall GRE preparation. The right GRE mock tests will introduce you to the types of questions on the actual exam. If possible, give at least a few of the mock tests in exam-like conditions in a timed manner. It’ll help you understand the adaptive nature of the test, hone your time management skills, and keep a tab on your progress.
You can read more about giving GRE mock tests to score 320+ here.
Best books for GRE preparation in 2024
Apart from your coaching material, you’ll need access to some of the best GRE preparation books.
We recommend investing in at least three titles to comprehensively practise GRE level questions for both sections.
- The Official Guide to the GRE General Test
This is the official book distributed by ETS, the conducting body of the GRE. It comes packed with questions, explanations, tips, tricks, and 4 practice tests.
The IMS GRE program gives you free access to this book as part of its extensive curriculum.
- Manhattan Prep – 5lb Book of GRE Practice Problems
This is by far the most exhaustive collection of GRE practice questions in the market. Each question is accompanied by detailed solutions and section-wise explanations.
- Barron’s GRE Essential Words
For those looking to boost their vocabulary, this book is the holy grail. It contains a condensed list of powerful words that are regularly used in the GRE test.
All the major graduate schools accept GRE scores. Business colleges have also begun to view GRE scores at par with GMAT scores. And new developments suggest that even some law schools in the US are considering GRE scores as an ideal replacement for the LSATs. Scoring well on the GRE can enable you to be a part of great schools, learn from academic dignitaries, access world-class research facilities, and give your career the direction it needs. At IMS, we have built up a rigorous programme with specialised resources to help you ace this test. Talk to our consultants today to see how IMS’s intensive 51+ hours GRE Classroom programme will get you past the 320+ score barrier and into your dream college.