and how it is structured, tips for registering, what to expect at the test center on ... prepare for the test using free official GRE test preparation materials and more.
Hello, everyone. My name is and I am speaking with you on behalf of the GRE® Program team at ETS. Welcome to this presentation: The GRE® General Test. The smartest way to graduate and business school.
The goal of today’s presentation is simple — to put you on your path to doing your best on the GRE® General Test! When we finish, you will know all about the test including what it measures and how it is structured, tips for registering, what to expect at the test center on test day, how to get your scores and how to send them to the schools of your choice. You will also learn how to prepare for the test using free official GRE test preparation materials and more. Plus, we will share some additional ways to help you make your application stand out. The GRE Program team wants you to be successful on test day so let’s get started with some great news to help you do just that!
Let’s take a look at the GRE® General Test.
The GRE® General Test is accepted for both graduate and business schools worldwide so you have more opportunities for your future! Whether you are interested in obtaining a master’s, MBA, specialized master’s in business or doctoral degree, the GRE test is the first step on your path. But maybe you are not quite sure what you want to do — maybe you are still considering your options, and that’s okay. GRE scores are good for five years so you can take the test now and know your scores will be ready for you when you need them.
More than 1,200 business schools trust and accept GRE® scores for their MBA programs, including top business schools worldwide It is very important to note that most schools are following Harvard Business School’s lead in weighting GRE scores equally with other business school admission tests. They note on their website that there is no minimum GMAT® or GRE score for application and they do not have a bias toward either test.
Taking the GRE® General Test is a smart choice because it is accepted by graduate and business schools for all types of programs. It is in fact, the most widely accepted graduate-level admissions test in the world so it can help you get where you want to go. It is the only graduate-level admissions test with test-taker friendly design features that let you skip questions and change answers and use more of your own personal test-taking strategies. And another big advantage of taking the GRE General Test is that with the ScoreSelect® option, you can send schools only the scores you want them to see.
It’s good to know what the test is like before you take it. To help you with that, I will walk you through the computer-delivered test since that is the format taken by most people around the world. The GRE® General Test is comprised of three measures — Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning. The first measure is always the Analytical Writing section. It is comprised of one section, with two essay tasks. You are required to write a separate essay response for each of the two tasks. You have a total of 30 minutes to write each essay response. Both the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning measures are comprised of two sections each. These sections can appear in any order after the Analytical Writing section. Each Verbal Reasoning section contains 20 questions and you have 30 minutes to complete each section. Each Quantitative Reasoning section contains 20 questions and you have 35 minutes to complete each section.
All test takers also receive either an unscored section or a research section. You will not know if the section you are working on is an unscored section, so you should try to do your best on all the sections. If you receive a research section, it will be clearly indicated and it will always be the last section of your test. Whether you receive an unscored section or a research section, your answers to those questions will not count toward your score. In total, the GRE® General Test is approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes in length plus timed breaks.
Now let’s move into some specific details to help you understand what each measure of the test is like. I’ll start with the Analytical Writing measure because that is the first measure you will see on the test. This measure assesses your critical thinking and analytical writing skills through two timed tasks. You will be asked to write an essay response for two different tasks: “Analyze an Issue” and “Analyze an Argument.” You will type your responses on the computer using the keyboard. The software offers the basic functions of insert, delete, cut and paste, and undo. Note that the software does not include a grammar checker or spell checker in fairness to the individuals who handwrite their essay responses for the paper-based GRE® General Test and who do not have the benefit of such tools.
The Verbal Reasoning sections assess your ability to understand what you read and how you apply your reasoning skills. The question types will include reading comprehension, text completion and sentence equivalence. Reading Comprehension questions are either multiple-choice questions or Select-in-Passage questions. The multiple-choice questions might ask you to select one answer choice or one or more answer choices. The Select-in-Passage questions will ask you to highlight your answer within the provided text passage. For Text Completion questions, you will see one or more sentences containing one to three blanks. You will answer by selecting a choice for each blank presented. And finally, the Sentence Equivalence question type requires you to select two answer choices from a list of six choices that, when inserted into the sentence, create two sentences that are alike in meaning. Note that there is no partial credit on the questions that require you to provide more than one answer. In order to get those questions right, all of the correct answers must be selected.
The Quantitative Reasoning sections assess your ability to interpret and analyze quantitative information and solve problems using mathematical models. In the Quantitative Reasoning sections there are four question types; Quantitative Comparison, where you compare data, Multiple-Choice questions, wherein you will select one answer choice and Multiple-Choice questions wherein you will select one or more answer choices. There are also Numeric Entry questions wherein you have to solve for the correct answer and enter it in the appropriate field or fields. This measure focuses on basic mathematical skills and elementary mathematical concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis. The onscreen calculator shown is available in the Quantitative Reasoning sections. You can bring up the calculator (by clicking on the “Calc” button) at the beginning of the section or you can bring it up as necessary. However, it is important to know that the calculator is not needed to answer every question in the quantitative section. In fact, some questions may be answered faster through estimation or other methods.
The Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections of the test are section-level adaptive, so what does that mean to you as a test taker? It means that the computer selects the second section of each measure based on your performance on the first section. A strong performance on the first section means you will receive a more difficult second section, and the difficulty level is taken into account during the scoring process. Your final score on each of these measures is based on the number of questions you answer correctly and the difficulty of the questions. Test takers often ask if points are deducted for wrong answers. Well the fact is that points are NOT deducted for wrong answers, so it is always better to guess than to leave an answer blank.
Now let’s review some tips about registering for a GRE® test.
So how exactly do you get started? It’s simple really, just register for the test. If you register early, you are more likely to get your preferred testing location, date and time and you can create a preparation plan that focuses on your test date so you have lots of time to get ready. To register, go to ets.org/mygre and create your personal ETS Account. It is the account you will use whenever you want to access information on your test date or view or send your scores after test day. It is also important to review the GRE® Registration Bulletin so you are aware of the ID requirements, procedures on test day, policies, etc. And you should think about where you might want to send your scores and check the programs’ admissions deadlines.
Before you create your ETS Account, you should review the identification requirements in the GRE® Information Bulletin or on the GRE website. Also, when you create your ETS Account, make sure you have your ID handy. And this is very important: Entering your name correctly is probably the single most important step in registering. It is also one of the most frequently asked questions about registration. I cannot stress enough that the name you use when registering MUST exactly match your ID documents (excluding accents). Ensure the spellings exactly match, be sure to provide your entire first (given) name — that means you should NOT register using a nickname or with only the first initial of your first name. You must supply your entire last (family/surname) name. For those with a two-part last name, you need to be sure to supply your complete last name as it appears on your ID documents (again excluding accents).
In this example, the test taker’s first name is Jose. The red star next to the field means that it must be filled out. A first name AND last name must be entered. The middle initial field, as you can see, has no asterisk as it is not a required field. This example shows the last name Fernandez de Córdova, which includes an accent. However, when Jose entered it into the Last or Family Name field, he did not include the accent.
Here is the complete first screen you will see when you access the “Create a Test Taker Account” page at ets.org/mygre. After entering your name exactly as it is in your ID documentation (excluding accents), you will enter your date of birth, gender and email address followed by your country, address, city and postal code. All of this information needs to match your documentation as well. The fields that you see that do not have an asterisk are not required, but completing them will make it easier for your graduate or business school programs to be sure they are reviewing the correct candidate information.
Once you finalize your ETS Account set up, it’s time to register! Remember, when you select a test date, be sure to base it on the earliest admission deadline of those schools to which you are applying. And, when you register, you can sign up for the free GRE® Search Service, too. We’ll talk more about the GRE Search Service later.
Now let’s review what you can expect on test day.
On test day, make sure you get to the test center early! In fact, test takers are required to arrive at least 30 minutes before the start of the test. To be sure you know where to go, you may want to visit the test center in advance. Before you leave for the test center on test day, be sure to double-check that you have your official ID documents with you — the documents you used when you registered for the test. It is vitally important that you have your matching ID documents with you on test day or you will not be permitted to enter the testing facility. Once you arrive at the test center be sure to follow the test center policies and procedures. Remember, as I said earlier, you can review them on either the GRE® website or in the registration bulletin. The information there will explain what you need to bring with you, what you are allowed to bring into the center and also how you should conduct yourself once in the center. After all, being prepared will help you have the best possible test-day experience, and that will help you do your best on the test.
Other graduate-level admissions tests require you to answer each question as it appears on your screen. You cannot go back and see what you have already answered, and you cannot move ahead until you answer the question in front of you. The good news here is that this is NOT how the GRE® General Test works. It features a test-taker friendly design so you approach the test using more of your own personal test-taking strategies. You can reconsider and change answers, you can mark questions that you answered to come back and review later, you can skip questions altogether and return to respond to them later AND you have the freedom to go back and forth within a section. Also, you may have heard that it is best to stick with your first answer on multiple-choice test questions. ETS research suggests that students who thoughtfully change their first answer are likely to improve their scores. The research showed that most GRE test takers who changed answers went from wrong to right, and boosted scores. In addition, changing answers helped test takers at all ability levels.
As you see in this Quantitative Reasoning example, the top navigation bar allows you that flexibility — enabling you to skip questions to come back later or change your initial answers with the Next and Back buttons. Use the Mark button to identify questions you plan to return to later or choose the Help button to give you general directions for answering the specific question type you are on. When you click the “Calc” button, the onscreen calculator will appear. You can use it to assist you with more complex calculations.
Since we know that everyone needs an occasional break, there are breaks throughout the test. There is one 10-minute break after the third section of the test, and there are one-minute breaks between each of the other sections. During the 10-minute break, you may want use the restroom, restock your scratch paper or stretch and relax a little so you are ready to resume testing. If you decide you need to take an unscheduled break during your test, the test clock will not stop. Once your test begins, the best strategy is to proceed without interruption.
I also have some important test-taking tips to share with you that should keep building your confidence. Let’s start first with some general strategies: It is important to become familiar with question formats and directions before test day so that you don’t have to spend time during your test doing so. Be aware of time, but do not rush. To help you with your pace, a section clock appears on the screen so that you know how much time you have left during the section. If you prefer, you can hide the clock until there are five minutes or less remaining in the section. Make sure you understand what each question is asking before answering. Remember that you do not get credit for answers that are partially correct. There are no points subtracted for incorrect answers, so the best strategy is to answer all the questions in each section, even if you have to make a best guess. This will help you to achieve your best score. And, use your knowledge to work through and figure out answers to unfamiliar questions.
Make sure you do not waste time on questions you find particularly difficult. No question carries any greater weight than any other so it is always best to provide an answer to every question. Throughout the test, watch your pace and do not spend too much time on the review screen as this can take away from the time you spend on the questions. Instead use it as a way to check your progress and ensure that you answered each of the questions in the section before moving on to the next section.
Now let’s review some tips and strategies for the Analytical Writing section. Before test day, review the score guides for the Issue and Argument tasks to get a better understanding of how readers evaluate essays and what they are looking for in an essay. Practice writing under timed conditions so that you are used to writing responses to the Analytical Writing tasks in the allotted time before test day. Pay close attention to the task directions and make sure that your essay response addresses the specific instructions in order to achieve your best score on this section. And, organize your thoughts and prepare an outline before you begin to write your essay response in order to keep your essays focused.
On the Issue task, make sure you support your position on the issue with reasons and examples drawn from your reading, experience, observations and/or academic studies. Make sure to leave a few minutes at the end of each task to read your essay and make any revisions to it that you think are necessary. Check for obvious errors such as grammatical mistakes or misspelled words. And finally, be sure to avoid excessive irony or humor in your essay responses because it may be misinterpreted by readers.
Now let’s review some tips and strategies for the Verbal Reasoning section. On reading comprehension questions, read the passages to get an overall sense of them before answering questions that pertain to them. Make sure you answer strictly on the basis of what the passage says; do not rely on any outside knowledge. After you choose answer choices for a question that contains blanks, it is a good idea for you reread the whole passage to be sure it makes sense. You may want to try to fill in the blanks with your own words and then find answer choices that match. And, it may also be helpful to try to identify words or phrases in the passage that seem particularly significant.
And finally let’s review some tips and strategies for the Quantitative Reasoning section. Remember that geometric figures may not be drawn to scale, therefore, be sure to avoid estimating sizes by sight or by measurement on such figures. You may want to consider drawing your own diagram or figure, or making a list to help you sort out what the question is asking. Another important tip is to try to avoid lengthy calculations by rounding numbers before computing an estimate, by looking for comparisons, or by recognizing and continuing numerical patterns. If you get stuck or if a solution seems to require an inordinate amount of time, consider switching to a different strategy. After arriving at an answer, reread the question to make sure that your answer is reasonable given what the question asked. You can review some additional problem-solving strategies on the GRE website at www.ets.org/gre/quantstrategies.
So now that you have an understanding of what to expect on test day and some strategies for an overall strong performance, let’s move on to your scores.
The scores for the Analytical Writing measure are reported on a 0 to 6 score scale, in half-point increments. Scores for the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning measures are reported on a 130 to 170 score scale, in 1-point increments.
When you finish the last section of your test on test day, you will see a screen that asks you to choose to Cancel your scores permanently or to Report (or essentially view) your scores. My guess is that you will choose to report your scores so you see your unofficial Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning scores. If you view them and think they might not be your best, or if you just need more time to think about where to send them, you can decide not to send your scores to any schools at that time. Only you will see your scores. However, if you view them and are happy with them, great! With the ScoreSelect® option, you can take the test once or more than once and you don’t need to make test-day decisions about your GRE scores. And scores are good for five years. More on ScoreSelect in a minute. Remember, if you cancel your scores, neither you nor any schools will ever see them and they will not become part of your reportable history.
If you choose to report your scores, you will see a screen like this …
We offer the ScoreSelect® option to help you do your best on the test and this option allows you to put your best scores forward. Whether you take the test once or again at any time in five years, you can send only the scores you want schools to see. And, this option is only available with GRE tests! On test day when viewing your scores at the test center, you can designate schools to receive either your Most Recent scores (from the test you just took) or your scores from All the tests you have taken in the last 5 years. Both of these options are available for each of your four free score reports. And if you decide not to send your scores when viewing them at the test center, you can always send them after test day. You just sign on to your ETS Account and send Additional Score Reports to the schools you designate for a fee. When you send your scores after test day, you have the Most Recent and All options as you had on test day, but you will also be able to use the Any option and select to send your scores from any (one or many) of the GRE® tests you have taken in the last five years. Whichever option you select, all scores from a test date must be reported in their entirety. For example, you cannot report Verbal scores from one test date and Quantitative Scores from another test date.
About 10 to 15 days after your test day you will be able to view your official scores online through your ETS Account. Your account will include all scores in your reportable history — that is the past five years. When viewing your scores online, you will be able to print a copy of your score report for your personal records as well. If you decided not to send scores to any schools on test day or you want to send scores to other schools, you can do so at any time through your ETS Account. Just select Order Additional Score Reports from the main menu and you will be able to send official copies of your scores to the institutions of your choosing for a fee. And remember, with the ScoreSelect® option, you can select the scores you want to send from your complete reportable history.
As you now know, with the ScoreSelect® option, you never need to send scores from a particular administration if you feel they are not your best. You have the option to take the test again — once every 21 days, up to five times within any continuous rolling 12-month period. ETS conducted an analysis of test takers that revealed that most people who took the test a second time did better. Score improvements were noted on the Verbal Reasoning measure and on the Quantitative Reasoning measure.
If you would like more information about your performance on the test you took, you can access the free GRE Diagnostic Service from your ETS Account. The Diagnostic Service gives you information about how you did on the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning questions on the test you took. You can see a summary of questions you answered right and wrong, the difficulty level of each question and the time you spent on each question. This information is especially helpful if you are planning to take the GRE® General Test again. You can access the GRE Diagnostic Service about 15 days after your computer-delivered test and for up to six months following your test.
This sample Verbal Reasoning section in the GRE® Diagnostic Service shows that questions in the Verbal section are organized by question type. In this sample, the test taker saw a total of seven longer passage Reading Comprehension questions; three were answered correctly and four incorrectly. The table also presents the difficulty level of each question and the time spent on each question.
A sample Quantitative Reasoning section in the GRE® Diagnostic Service are organized by mathematics content area as shown on this slide. This information precedes the breakdown of questions, which is shown on the next slide.
After the description of how questions are categorized on the Quantitative Reasoning section of the service, detailed information regarding how the test taker performed on the Quantitative Reasoning section appears. In this sample, the test taker saw three Arithmetic questions; two were answered correctly and one incorrectly. Similar to the Verbal Reasoning section, the table for the Quantitative Reasoning section presents the difficulty level of each question and the time spent on each question.
The GRE® Program offers a number of tools to help you prepare to do your best on the GRE® General Test. Let’s review them.
The valuable, free POWERPREPTM Online practice tests can provide you with two simulated, computer-delivered test-taking experiences that are as close to the actual test experience as you can get! There is also a downloadable test prep booklet for the paper-delivered GRE® General Test for those that live in regions where the paper-delivered test format is administered.
Let’s talk about the free GRE® Math Review. It is a great refresher of basic math skills and lets you review concepts that you may see on the test. And you can get additional explanations on the concepts covered in the GRE® Math Review by viewing FREE instructional videos on the Khan Academy® website. With GRE® Math Conventions, you can learn more about the mathematical assumptions particular to the GRE® General Test.
Now I want to tell you about two NEW practice tests, POWERPREP PLUSTM Online practice tests, that were introduced in July 2017. These practice tests contain never-before-published real test questions. Each of the two practice tests provides a simulated, computer-delivered test-taking experience that is as close to the actual test experience as you can get. In addition, after taking a practice test, you will get scores on all three of the measures (Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing) and explanations for the correct answers on the entire test. POWERPREP PLUS Online practice tests can be purchased in your ETS Account.
ETS also offers additional official test preparation, available from your ETS Account, the ETS Store and other online sellers, and through bookstores. The Official Guide to the GRE® General Test, is the most authoritative guide to the test, giving you four real practice tests, hundreds of authentic GRE questions with answers and explanations and proven success strategies. The Official GRE® Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions, Volume One, contains 150 never-beforepublished verbal reasoning questions with complete explanations and valuable hints and tips. It also includes new practice questions for the GRE Analytical Writing measure. The Official GRE® Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions, Volume One, contains 150 neverbefore-published quantitative reasoning questions with complete explanations and valuable hints and tips. All three books are available in print and eBook formats.
ETS also provides two test prep bundles for even greater value. The Official GRE Super Power Pack contains 3 ebooks: The Official Guide to the GRE® General Test, the Official GRE® Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions, and the Official GRE® Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions. The Official GRE Value Combo contains two ebooks: The Official GRE® Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions and the Official GRE® Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions. These bundles are available from your ETS Account, the ETS Store and other online sellers, and through bookstores.
The official mobile app, for iPhone® and iPad®, features the authentic test questions with answers and explanations, plus more from The Official Guide to the GRE® General Test, so it lets you bring the test experts with you wherever you go! ScoreItNow!TM Online Writing Practice helps you practice for the Analytical Writing measure of the test. You can respond to real GRE Analytical Writing topics and get immediate feedback on your essay responses.
To prepare with the support of other test takers, join the conversation on the official GRE® General Test page on Facebook®. Be sure to connect and engage with other test takers from around the world! You may even want to share what you learned here today.
You can also join the conversation on the official GRE® General Test page or the Taking the GRE General Test for business school page on LinkedIn® and hear from others who are planning to take the GRE General Test.
You can also join the conversation on the official GRE® General Test page on Sina Weibo or GREofficial on WeChat and hear from others who are planning to take the GRE General Test.
I still have more to share with you though. You may recall that at the opening of this presentation, I mentioned that I would provide you with some ways to help you make your application stand out. Let’s talk about them.
You want your application to set you apart from other applicants, and adding a GRE® Subject Test score to your application is one way to accomplish that. GRE Subject Tests demonstrate achievement in a particular field of study. Each test assumes that you have an undergraduate major or extensive background in the discipline. There are six Subject Tests — Biology; Chemistry; Literature in English; Mathematics; Physics and Psychology. The tests are administered worldwide in the months of September, October and April so be mindful of this timing as it relates to application deadlines. You can find more information about the GRE Subject Tests on the GRE website at ets.org/gre/subject.
You can also help schools find you with the GRE® Search Service. Add your unique profile to the GRE Search Service database. Graduate and business school recruiters around the world use this database to find prospective students like you. If you match their recruitment profile, you could receive information about their programs, admission requirements — even scholarships and fellowships to help pay tuition. Best of all, it is FREE — and you can sign up when you register for a GRE test or at any time in your ETS Account. I hope this overview of the GRE® General Test has been a valuable step on your path to a successful test day. Remember the entire GRE team is rooting for you to do your very best on the GRE General Test. Thanks for joining me today, and good luck to you!