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All you need to know about the new GRE

About GRE

(27 questions that all GRE test-takers have and do not know whom to ask!)

 


Why are GRE scores important?


 

Your GRE score is similar to your IQ. Admission committees in any university will immediately judge you as being ‘super smart’, smart or above average based on what your score is.

Top universities around the world want to accept only ‘super smart’ students, and this  translates into a 320+ GRE score. All the universities in the US, UK, Europe, Singapore and Australia consider the GRE as a standard measure for evaluating an applicant’s ability to cope with the curriculum.

Admission committees in any university will immediately judge you as being ‘super smart’, smart or above average based on what your score is. 

The GRE is especially important for international students, as often, their academic and work profile cannot be verified thoroughly.

 

 


Why was the GRE exam created?


 

If we had to trace the history of how the GRE came into being,  we would be heading way back to the end of the second world war. Yes, that’s how further back the story goes!

 

The Educational Testing service (ETS) was given the task of creating an exam that would act as a universal measure of the verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and critical thinking skills of students, acquired over a long period of learning.

 

This endeavour in the year 1949, gave birth to the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) as we know it today.

 

 


Why should you take the GRE over GATE?


 

The purpose of taking these two exams – GRE and GATE, is completely different.


You cannot apply for Master’s programs in Indian universities with a GRE score. Similarly, you cannot send your GATE rank to a university abroad and expect admission based on it. A choice between GRE and GATE, is therefore a choice between a Master’s in India and a Master’s abroad.

If you have a strong academic and professional profile, and hunger for success, you should probably take up the GRE and apply for a Master’s abroad. While a Master’s in India will cost you much less than an MS in the US, the academic value and the amount of leverage the international Master’s program will give to your career is incomparable. 

 

If you have a strong academic and professional profile, and hunger for success, you should probably take up the GRE and apply for a Master’s abroad.

In India, there are only a few institutes such as IITs, IISC, and the IIMs which offer world class higher education that can give a substantial boost to your career. However, the limited seats make it very difficult to get admission in these institutes.

 


Why should you take the GRE over the GMAT?


 

 
 

The GMAT exam is designed specially for applicants to business programs.

Hence, if  you are applying for a business program, and the college you want to apply to is amongst the only few institutions that do not accept the GRE, you would have no choice but to take the GMAT.

Hard luck!

However, if you are applying for an MS program, your GMAT scores will not be accepted, so you need not bother to take the GMAT.

As the GMAT assesses business school applicants, it is different from the GRE, which is taken by students applying for programs in a variety of subjects.

For example, there is an extra section in the GMAT, known as Integrated Reasoning, which requires the test taker to analyze a collection of data and interpret the data to answer a set of questions. GMAT quant is also more difficult than GRE quant.

The GRE gives you the freedom to apply to MS programs and MBA programs, thus providing a unique opportunity to engineers with a few years of experience, who are not able to decide between an MS and an MBA.  

Some students who are more confident about their verbal ability than their quant skills also tend to take the GRE, although they have decided to applyonly to Business schools.

 “

 The GRE gives you the freedom to apply to MS programs and MBA programs, thus providing a unique opportunity to engineers with a few years of experience, who are not able to decide between an MS and an MBA. 

Some students who are more confident about their verbal ability than their quant skills also tend to take the GRE, although they have decided to applyonly to Business schools.

 

 


Why should you take the GRE over CAT?


 

CAT is an exam for admission into Indian Bchools. IIIMs, and most tier 2 colleges in India accept CAT scores for admission.

Only few institutes in the country, including ISB and IIM-A, which offer the best Business programs in India, accept the GRE.  The GRE is an exam for admission into various Master’s programs abroad, including some  business programs.  If you aspire  to do  an MBA abroad, CAT will be of no use.



Why are an increasing number of B-Schools accepting the GRE?


 

 

When the GRE is not designed to be a test for management programs and GMAT is, why is the GRE being accepted at B-Schools?

 

The GRE is being accepted at B Schools to benefit both the applicants and the institutions by accepting more scores from a wider range of students, providing more options to both.

 

Let’s take a look at Indian School of Business (ISB).

 

The number of students admitted to ISB has increased from 345 to 908 in the last 10 years. The threefold increase in the number of admitted students has presented a big problem for the institute, that of maintaining the quality of admitted students.

 

To get some clarity on how this quality can be maintained, let’s look at what educational institutes call the Acceptance rate.

The number of students admitted to ISB has increased from 345 to 908 in the last 10 years. 

Acceptance rate = Number of people who are offered / Number of applicants to the program X 100

 

In order to keep the acceptance rates the same in 2017, ISB would need three times the applicant pool to choose from, compared to the applicant poolin 2006. Acceptance rate correlates directly to the quality of the students accepted.

 

In India, every year, four students appear for GRE compared to one GMAT test taker. Hence the move of opening up the gates to GRE test takers greatly increases the applicant pool.

 


What is considered a good GRE score? How difficult is the GRE?


 

 


The GRE is scored between 260-340.

This means, even if you get all the questions wrong (which would be pretty tragic), you would still get 130 in two sections, making it 260.

 

An extraordinary few from around the world have been able to score 340 since the new scoring system was implemented in 2011. The first person in India to score 340 was Ashwini Nene from Mumbai. Here’s the article on her exceptional achievement.

 

If you score anything above 320, you can apply to any of the premier institutes from around the world.

A 330+ score sort of establishes that you have exceptional skills, both quantitative and verbal.

 

The latest report by ETS provides the following information about the percentiles:

 

https://www.ets.org/s/gre/pdf/gre_guide.pdf

 

This means that if you score 165 in Verbal, only 5% of the entire GRE test taking population would score higher than you. In the quant section, the same score would mean that 11% of the population scored higher than you.

An extraordinary few from around the world have been able to score 340 since the new scoring system was implemented in 2011. The first person in India to score 340 was Ashwini Nene from Mumbai.

A little indulgence in maths with the above numbers tells us that getting a 170 on both the papers is possible by only three in every 10 thousand test takers. Combine that with a perfect score on the Analytical Writing section, and that makes it three in a million.

 

Similarly getting 165 in both the papers with a total of 330, would put you  in the top 55 amongst 10 thousand test takers.

 

Depending on how scary or assuring those numbers sound to you, you can decide on how difficult the exam is.

 


What is the eligibility for taking the GRE?



There are no specific eligibility criteria for taking the GRE. However, if you want to apply to a university with the score, you have to fulfill the eligibility criteria of the specific program you want to pursue.


What is the test structure of  the GRE? What is the GRE Syllabus?


 


GRE consists of five sections that are independent of one another. You need to complete an entire section before moving to the next. Within a section, the test takers can go back and forth between questions.

For your convenience, we have authored separate blogs with sample questions on each topic that is tested in the GRE. Here are the links to the blogs:

Quantitative Reasoning:

   Arithmetic
   Algebra
   Geometry
   Data Analysis

Verbal Reasoning:

   Text Completion
   Sentence Equivalence
   Reading Comprehension

Analytical Writing Analysis (AWA) is a section where the test taker is required to write two essays. This blog on AWA will give you a clear idea of what to expect, and how to approach this section of the GRE.





When is the best time to take the GRE?


 

 

GRE scores are valid for five years;  hence, the exam can be taken at the convenience of the test taker. However, if you are applying to a college soon, you need to plan when you will take the exam, accordingly. Typically, colleges accept applications twice a year. These application acceptance times are known as the Fall intake (August – September) and the Spring intake (Feb-March) respectively.

If you want to apply during the Fall intake you should take the exam latest by June, which will leave you with two months to work on your application essays. Similarly, for the Spring intake, you should have your GRE scores with you latest by December.

While scholarships are awarded during Fall and Spring intakes, there is a general opinion that applying for the Fall intake gives you a better chance at receiving scholarships.


 

 

What are the average GRE scores? (GRE cutoff)


 


The GRE score is only one of the factors that goes into the selection of an applicant for a particular program. Even if you have a score that is above 330, it does not guarantee admission into one of the world renowned institutes, such as Stanford or MIT. Universities examine your academic and professional background to make sure that you would fit in well with some of the brightest minds from around the world. Unlike universities in India, for example Delhi University  with its 96% criterion, a ‘cut-off’ is never specified by these institutes abroad. However, the GRE scores of the students admitted each year are published, and can be used to measure the quality of students admitted to the university. This information will provide you with the metrics you need to understand how high a GRE score you must aim for.

A high GRE scores is especially useful for students who have an average academic profile as it helps them ensure that they can keep up with the curriculum.

While scholarships are awarded during Fall and Spring intakes, there is a general opinion that applying for the Fall intake gives you a better chance at receiving scholarships. 

Here is a list of of the average GRE scores of the students admitted to some of best institutions in the world:

 

University

Verbal
(Average Score)

Quant
(Minimum Score)

Quant
(Average Score)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

157

160

162

Stanford University

158

160

163

University of California Berkeley

155

159

161

University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign

155

159

163

Carnegie Mellon University

159

159

161

Georgia Technological University

155

159

161

University of Texas Austin

155

157

160

University of Michigan Ann Arbor

154

159

161

Cornell University

160

159

162

Purdue University

158

160

163

University of Southern California

158

160

163

Texas A&M University

154

157

160

University of California San Diego

154

164

166

California Technological University

158

164

166

Princeton University

158

157

163

University of Wisconsin Madison

157

160

163

Columbia University

164

157

163

University of Maryland College

154

159

160

Northwestern University

154

159

161

University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

155

163

University of Washington

156

159

Ohio State University

155

158

Duke University

155

165

North Carolina State University

155

161

University of Colorado Boulder

155

152

University of California Irvine

152

161

Arizona State University

154

162

Iowa State University

152

160

Northeastern University

152

157

University at Buffalo – SUNY

154

161

University of Connecticut

153

157

University of Illinois–Chicago

152

158

Colorado State University

153

157

Illinois Institute of Technology

148

158

Clemson University

151

155

University of Central Florida

151

155

University of Cincinnati

155

159

Santa Clara University

151

157

Santa Clara University

151

157

Mississippi State University

148

157

University of North Carolina

158

155

Michigan Technological University

154

157

University of Texas Arlington

148

157


Where are the GRE test centers in India?




GRE has test centers in all the major cities in the country. You can visit the ETS website  and look for test date availability, and book your date.
For a detailed list of the test centers in India, head over to this blog. – Test centers in India

 


What are the scores that GRE provides?


 

 

Three scores are reported on the GRE General Test:

 

  •  – A Verbal Reasoning score is reported on a 130–170 score scale, in 1-point increments.
  •  – A Quantitative Reasoning score is reported on a 130–170 score scale, in 1-point increments.
  •  – An Analytical Writing score is reported on a 0–6 score level, in half-point increments.

 

 


What happens if you are absent on the exam day?


 

 

If you do not turn up for the exam, you have to forfeit your exam fees. You will have to book your exam for another date, and pay the exam fees for it.

 

 

 


How is the test administered?


 

The computer-delivered test is offered year round at Prometric® test centers, and also offered
on specific dates at additional testing locations outside of the Prometric test center network.

In areas of the world where the computer-delivered test is not available, a paper-delivered test is administered up to three times a year. India is not included in this list.

 


How long is the GRE test?


 

The total testing time for the computer-delivered test is three hours and 45 minutes, plus short breaks.

 

 


How does the computer-based GRE test work?


 

You might have never taken a adaptive computer-based test before, but do not let that fact affect you in an adverse way. The test begins with either a quant or a verbal section, the difficulty of which may range from easy to difficult. Based on your performance in the first section the difficulty of the subsequent quant and verbal sections will be decided by the test.

This means, that if a test taker performs well in the first verbal section, the next verbal sections will have a higher difficulty level.

However, your performance in the first Verbal section will not affect the difficulty level of the quant sections and vice-versa.

The scoring for the test, takes into consideration the total number of questions answered correctly across the two sections, as well as the difficulty level of the section.

” 

If a test taker performs well in the first verbal section, the next verbal sections will have a higher difficulty level.

 

 


Can I use a calculator while taking  the test?


 


The computer-delivered GRE General Test includes an on-screen calculator for use in the Quantitative Reasoning section to reduce the emphasis on computation, and to focus more on reasoning skills. The calculator has four functions (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) and a square root.

 


How much does it cost to take the GRE?


  

The cost for the exam is USD 205, which is around INR 13,140.

 


How do I book my GRE test?


 

 

Visit the ETS website and create a ‘My GRE Account’.

After you have set up your account, you can:

Set your test date
View scores after the exam
Reschedule or cancel the test taken
Send out scores to required Universities
Register for the free GRE Services
If you already have a TOEFL account, you can use the same account to log on to the ETS website. Depending on your study plan and the date and time that would work best for you, choose the date and time for your exam.

 

 


How do I cancel my GRE score?


 

 

Until a few years ago, canceling your GRE score was sometimes a good idea because all GRE scores used to be reported to the selected graduate programs. One bad score could seriously mess up your chances of getting admitted.
Hence any event that interfered with your performance would be a cause to seriously consider canceling your scores.

However the recently introduced GRE Score Select lets you select which scores you would want to send to a particular program you are applying to. This change means that the test takers need not cancel the scores to avoid them from being reported.

However if you still want to cancel your scores, GRE still gives you that option.
After you have answered the last question on the test, you will be given the option to cancel the score. A cancellation cancels the whole test, and not only the section you just completed.
If  the Quant section went well but the last Verbal section left you in shatters, do not cancel the score hoping that your Quant score will still show up! That will not happen.

The exam fees will not be refunded to you on cancellation.

If you accept the scores, the scores will be displayed on the screen. You cannot cancel your scores after you have viewed them.

After you have viewed your scores, you can choose the colleges to which you would like to send your scores.

GRE Score Select lets you select which scores you would want to send to a particular program you are applying to.

 

 


How do I reinstate my cancelled score?


 

If you accidentally, or in a ‘sudden bout of self-doubt’, cancelled the score, you can get them reinstated by registering your request within 60 days of the exam, using your account.

While registering your request for reinstatement, you need to pay a fee of USD 50 .

 


How do I reschedule my GRE exam ?




If you feel you need more preparation time, or if you have a  personal emergency, you can visit the ETS website and get your exam rescheduled.

However there are a few conditions you need to consider:
– You can reschedule your exam no later than four days before the exam, trying to reschedule it at any later point will make you forfeit your entire exam fees.

– An additional 50$ will be charged for rescheduling provided that you reschedule the exam at least 4 days prior to the exam.

– Rescheduling is only permitted with an exam year (Starts July 1st – Ends June 30th)

 

 


How long are the GRE scores valid?


 

Your GRE score is valid for five years from the date you take the exam. With the score, you can apply to any college within  five  years.

This feature provides a great opportunity to working professionals who are not immediately applying to a university, but have plans to do so in the near future. It also provides the applicant with time  to build up his or her profile over the next couple of years and make it awesome enough to gain admission into a Stanford or a Harvard.

For example, if you are currently working in a technical role but would like to shift to marketing, it would be wise to get a few years of experience in that domain before applying to a world-class university. 

In this scenario, you can take the GRE, and apply with the score after gathering some experience in marketing. This will not only improve your chances of gaining admission, but will also positively affect your employability after you graduate.

Your GRE score is valid for five years from the date you take the exam.

 

 


For multiple answer questions, if I get any of the answers correct, do I receive partial credit?


 

 

For questions with multiple answers, all of your selections must be correct in order to receive credit for answering the question correctly.

 


How do I prepare for the GRE?




The shortest answer to this question:  “If you are aiming for a good score, you will need a plan!”

A plan that is feasible, and one to which you are committed.

A detailed answer demands some space and peace of mind, for it to sink in, and be effective.

 


How are GRE scores calculated?


 

Three scores are reported on the GRE Test:

 

  • a Verbal Reasoning score reported on a 130–170 score scale which has 1-point increments
  • a Quantitative Reasoning score reported on a 130–170 score scale which has 1-point increments
  • an Analytical Writing score reported on a 0–6 score scale which has  half-point increments

No score will be reported if the test taker doesn’t answer any question.



We hope you found this blog useful.

 

Please spread its value by sharing the blog  on your social media channels, and letting your friends know about it.

 

Also, I would love to know if you have any other questions about GRE, so go ahead, and let me know in the Comments section.

 

 

That’s all folks!

  

 

 

 

 

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