The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a prerequisite for admission to a graduate program at most US universities. GRE is a comprehensive test given by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), in order to test whether a student (ETS), in order to test whether a student is ready for graduate studies or not. The GRE is divided into two classes: General and Subject. Most US universities require the GRE General Test; only a few require the Subject GRE Test. Currently, in many countries all GRE candidates are required to give the computer-based test.
The GRE General Test is composed of three sections:
The analytical writing portion is the first part, followed by an unidentified and un-scored section which may comprise either verbal or quantitative reasoning. A research section (indentified and un-scored) may also be included in the test and is always included at the end of the test.
There are two tasks in the analytical writing portion:
1. Issue task: In this task, you are given two essay topics and are required to write an essay on one of them. You have 45 minutes to do this.
2. Argument Task: Here, a single topic is given, which you have to analyze for logical reasoning and reasoning flaws. You have 30 minutes to do so.
After analytical writing portion, the verbal and quantitative sections can be tested in any order. The total time allotted for the whole test is three hours. The verbal portion tests your vocabulary and includes sentence completion, reading comprehension, analogies and antonyms. You have 30 questions in the verbal section and 30 minutes to solve them.
The quantitative portion includes word problems, quantitative comparison and data interpretation questions. You have a total of 45 minutes to solve 28 such questions.
It is advisable to take the GRE Exam, at the beginning of the final year of your undergraduate program. Ideally it takes three months to prepare for the GRE, so you can easily site down and prepare during the year-end holidays and take the exam immediately before the burden of the final sets in. Some important books for GRE Preparation are available from Kaplan, Barrons and The Princeton Review. Its good idea to read through all the tips and trick mentioned in these books, for each section of the GRE Exam. A score over 1350 is vital for securing admission in some of the top universities in the US.
As said before, you should shortlist universities that you would like to apply before talking the GRE. This is because the ETS has a system of sending GRE scores to the universities of your choice. Note down the universities code from their websites and write/type them in the exam to save yourself the burden of sending scores manually. Some universities require the GRE scores to be sent only through ETS.
GRE Exam Changes
Another important bit of information to retain in that the format of the GRE General Test shall change from August 2011. The major changes are:
1. New user interface, which allows a candidate to change / edit answers and even skip questions within a section (Note: Currently, this is not allowed).
2. An on-screen calculator is allowed.
3. New types of questions.
The ETS is offering a 50 per cent discount on GRE General Test registration (for the new format) scheduled between August 1, 2011 and September 30, 2011. Considering that the test fee is 190 US dollars, a 50 per cent discount makes a significant difference.