The Graduate Record Examination, or GRE, is an important step in the graduate school or business school application process. The GRE is a multiple-choice, computer-based, standardized exam that is often required for admission to graduate programs and graduate business programs (MBA) globally.
-At present, thousands of master’s and doctoral programs accept GRE scores, including more than 1,200 business schools, several of which are top-ranked M.B.A. programs. GRE scores are also accepted by many fellowship sponsors. So chances are at least one of the programs you’re applying to will require GRE scores. (This assumption only applies if you’re getting a master’s degree or Ph.D. For other types of grad degrees, applicants are typically required to take an entirely different test for admission, such as the GMAT, LSAT, or MCAT.)
-If you’re not sure whether you need to take the GRE, it’s best to consult your programs directly. Remember, if you don’t take the GRE and scores are required for admission to a program, you won’t be able to complete your grad school application — and therefore can’t get into that program!
-But before we dive into whether you should take the GRE or not, let’s answer another question: what is the purpose of the GRE exam?
What Is the Overall Purpose of the GRE?
-The GRE tests your preparedness for grad school and is designed to predict how successful you’re likely to be as a grad student (we’ll touch more on this later).
-The exam contains three sections that test different skill sets deemed critical for grad school success. These sections and what they test you on are as follows:
- Verbal Reasoning: your vocab knowledge and reading comprehension abilities,
- Quantitative Reasoning: your problem-solving abilities and your knowledge of fundamental math topics (arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis),
- Analytical Writing: your ability to construct a cogent essay using clear evidence and correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization,
- For more info on what the GRE entails, check out our GRE syllabus and in-depth guide to the three GRE sections.
|Verbal Reasoning||130–170, in 1-point increments|
|Quantitative Reasoning||130–170, in 1-point increments|
|Analytical Writing||0–6, in half-point increments|
These GRE test tips and tricks will help you on every section of test.
1. Memorize Directions
You can save time and cut down on test-day surprises by learning the format and directions of the test inside and out. Knowing the test format is an essential part of any GRE study plan. But going the extra mile to really memorize the directions for each section and question type confers additional benefits. First, you’ll save a little time in each section, which gives you more time to answer questions! Second, you’ll be able to take a mini brain break when the direction screen is displayed before each subsection. And finally, really knowing and understanding the directions will cut down on any confusion. You won’t have to worry that you’ll make a silly mistake because you misread the directions.
2: Do Easy Questions First
Within a subsection, all GRE questions are worth the same amount of points. This means it makes sense to collect the easy points first! So when you encounter a question on test day that seems confusing or hard (or even that you just don’t want to do right then), just skip it! Use the marking function to indicate that you didn’t answer it, and move on to the next question.
Then, after you’ve made your first pass through the subsection and gotten all the easy points, complete your marked questions. You may find that they aren’t as difficult as you thought they would be!
3: Answer Every Question
There’s no guessing penalty on the GRE. So it’s to your advantage to guess on every question. If you have time to make a quick, educated guess, that’s ideal. But even if you have to randomly pick some answers when you have 30 seconds left, still do it! You can only gain points.
4: Use Process of Elimination
When you read a question and you’re very unsure of the correct answer, don’t panic. Instead, use process of elimination to eliminate as many incorrect answers as you can. Even if you can’t identify the correct answer with certainty this way, you’ll increase your odds of guessing correctly with every answer choice you eliminate.
5: Read Carefully
Unless you’re doing some rapid guessing to close out a section, it’s critical that you read questions closely. There’s nothing worse than leaving points on the table because you misread a “not” or “except” or you put your answer to a math problem in the wrong format! The GRE often anticipates that students will make careless reading errors and will include dummy answer choices that align with those errors to trip you up.
6: Stay on Pace
Poor time management can be a real point-drainer on the GRE. Be sure to keep an eye on your time when you’re taking the test. Verbal and Quant both have 20 questions per section. Verbal sections have a 30-minute time limit, leaving you about 1:30 per question. Quant has a slightly longer 35-minute time limit; you have about 1:45 per question. Obviously, there will be some variation in how long questions take, but you want to practice staying on track. But this is a general guideline that should keep you from sinking too much time into a particular question.
7: Check for Mistakes
If you have time, make a quick pass through to check your answers after you finish a subsection. This will help you catch any careless errors, like marking a different answer than you wanted by mistake or misreading the question.
8: Keep Scratch Paper Neat
You are entitled to unlimited scratch paper on the GRE. However, to make the best use of it, you should keep it neat. This means writing neatly and systematically. Otherwise, you run the risk of introducing errors into your work, especially on the math section.
9: Stay Calm
Taking the GRE can be a stressful experience, especially when you face an unusually difficult question or feel like you’ve forgotten something you studied. But the key to success is to stay calm. Don’t let your momentary discomfort spiral out of control. Move on to another question. Tell yourself that you can do it, and that you’re doing great. Otherwise, you could lose focus, which could really impact your score.
10: Take the Break
Even if you don’t think you need the break, take the break. Just having that time to take a breather and rest your brain is reason enough to take the break. But you should also take this chance to eat a snack and drink some water. If your blood sugar crashes, you’ll become fatigued, and being dehydrated can impair your focus.
1. Find your baseline.
2. Determine your target GRE score.
3. Make a plan to close the gap.
4. Practice for technique.
5. Mimic real GRE conditions.
6. Review your results.
7. Build up your GRE vocabulary.
8. Practice with and without a calculator.
- Now, let’s address the question you’ve probably been asking yourself since you started reading this article: should you take the GRE? Below, we provide you with a list of possible scenarios along with advice on whether it’s better to take the GRE or avoid it.
Take the GRE If …
- Any of your programs require GRE scores. Unfortunately, even if just one of your programs requires GRE scores, you’re going to have to take the GRE. If you don’t take the GRE, you won’t be able to finish your application. And as we all know, an incomplete application = automatic disqualification. So register for the test and get studying!
Any of your programs strongly recommend GRE scores.
- If none of your programs require GRE scores but one or a few of them strongly recommend them, it’s a good idea to just go ahead and take the test. This way, you’ll have an extra component to your application that can boost your chance of getting accepted (if you achieve solid GRE scores, that is).
You want to be considered for merit-based funding.
- Many grad schools use GRE scores in addition to undergrad GPAs, faculty recommendations, and other application factors to determine applicants’ eligibility for merit-based fellowships. Generally, applicants seek out these types of fellowships if the program they’re applying to doesn’t guarantee funding for admitted applicants (or does, but only in the form of loans). If your programs aren’t fully funded but do offer merit-based fellowships, I highly recommend taking the GRE.
You will for sure apply to grad school within the next five years.
- If you know for certain you’ll be applying to grad school within the next five years in order to obtain a master’s degree or Ph.D., consider taking the GRE early. GRE scores are valid for five years, so as long as you apply to a program within that time frame, take advantage of the time you have and get the GRE over and done with. Taking it early also gives you plenty of time to decide whether you want to retake the test, should you score lower than what you need for your programs.
You want to make up for a weak spot in your application.
- If GRE scores are optional but you have a glaring weakness in your application, such as a low undergrad GPA or mediocre letters of recommendation, consider taking the GRE (and scoring well on it!) to try to make up for the weak spot.
Don’t Take the GRE If …
None of your schools require or strongly recommend GRE scores.
- If none of your programs require or recommend GRE scores, you’re better off skipping the GRE. Instead, spend your time strengthening other areas of your applications.
You’re not sure you want to attend grad school.
-Toying around with the idea of attending grad school but haven’t made any concrete decisions? Then don’t bother taking the GRE just yet. There’s no point in forking out the $205 exam fee or studying for hours on end if you’re not 100 percent positive you’ll be applying to grad school (for a master’s degree or Ph.D.) within the next five years.
1.Official GRE Super Power Pack
2.GRE Prep by Magoosh
3.Kaplan's GRE Prep Plus
4.Manhattan’s 5Lb Prep GRE Book
5.The ETS Official Guide to the GRE
6.Official GRE for Quantitative Reasoning by ETS