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Overview of the GRE® Program


Video duration: 15:24

ANN-MARIE STEPHENSON: Welcome to an overview of the GRE® program. My name is Ann-Marie Stephenson, and as one of the program directors, I work very closely with admissions staff from graduate and professional schools across the globe. So, I'm quite excited to share with you information to help you as a prospective graduate student. In this module, we'll share information to get you familiar with the GRE test and also provide details on GRE services and resources that are available to help support your test-taker journey. Again, this is a general overview, and we've provided additional links and modules that take a deeper dive into specific test preparation information.

Now let's begin. Here I'll share with you information on the GRE test and the critical role they play in the admissions process. So, you may ask, Why are GRE scores important? Well, GRE scores play an important role in the evaluation process by providing a common and objective measure that can be used to fairly evaluate applicants from different backgrounds. For these reasons, GRE scores are used by graduate admissions and fellowship panels or committees to help supplement undergraduate records and other qualifications for graduate level study.

And here's yet another question. Why should I then take the GRE? These tests show your readiness for graduate-level work and create opportunities for faculty and others to provide additional guidance because they measure the skills considered essential to academic success. Simply put, along with other elements of an application, such as grades and letters of recommendation, they help to paint a clearer picture of the value that an applicant brings to a program.

I also want to add here that GRE tests are backed by decades of research and adhere to a rigorous assessment process. For these reasons, these tests remain valid predictors of academic readiness in graduate and professional schools. There are a number of independent, as well as ETS-conducted studies as listed here, that confirm the validity and usefulness of these scores in graduate, business and law school admissions process.

The GRE testing program consists of two standardized tests, the GRE General Test, which measures your verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills. We also offer the GRE Subject Tests in the six disciplines listed: biology, chemistry, literature in English, mathematics, physics, and psychology. These tests are required or recommended by specific programs and are intended for students who have majored in or have extensive backgrounds in these fields. You'll need to review the admissions requirements for the programs to which you'll be applying to know which test is needed.

Both tests are offered worldwide. The GRE General Test is offered as a computer-delivered test year-round at most locations around the world. The length of the test is 3 hours and 45 minutes. The test fee is 205 US dollars, and this is the fee in the United States and in most areas of the world. It is important to note that the GRE General Test fee varies in some countries. So please review the details on our website. On the other hand, we have the GRE Subject Tests, which are paper tests, that are offered up to three times a year in the months of September, October, and April at 150 US dollars. And these tests are 2 hours and 50 minutes in length.

Now let's shift gears to talk about the GRE services that are available for you as a test taker, most of which are available at no additional cost. Here's a list of the services we currently provide. We offer accommodations for test takers with disabilities or health-related needs. There are GRE fee reduction programs, and I'll take some time to talk more about these two services in greater detail in the next several slides.

What's also exciting to share here is that we provide a free GRE Search Service that helps graduate, business and law school recruiters from around the world to find prospective graduate students who opt into the service. And as you have more time to dive deeply and explore these services, you'll see that we offer a number of official GRE test prep resources that are available online or as paperback or e-books. And keep in mind that these test prep materials are also available in accessible formats. And lastly, we offer a free GRE Diagnostic Service that helps test takers to better understand their test performance on the computer-delivered GRE General Test.

Now let me share some more specifics on the accommodations we provide for test takers who meet certain requirements taking the GRE General Test and the Subject Tests. To assist test takers, we provide extended testing time and extra breaks. And based on specific requirements, assistance can be provided through a human reader or scribe. There are alternate test formats, including Braille and large-print testbook and answer sheet. There's also audio recording. And with the GRE General Test, we can provide recorded audio with either tactile or large-print figure supplements.

And just to add, here are the accommodations most commonly used by test takers taking the computer-delivered GRE General Test. And they include, again, additional time and extra breaks; the use of assistive keyboards and other devices, such as Trackball and JAWS screen reader with or without refreshable Braille device; along with built-in features that allow for screen magnification and selectable foreground and background colors.

What's important to note here is the process for requesting testing accommodations for the GRE General Test and the Subject Tests. These requests must be submitted through your ETS account, which is created prior to registering for your test. You must have your accommodations approved before your test can be scheduled, and the earlier, the better. Although the documentation review process takes approximately six weeks, it is recommended to get your request in as soon as possible, especially if you're requesting an alternate test form. And keep in mind that your request and completed paperwork must be received in order to initiate the review process. This is certainly pertinent information, so please review the details provided on our website at

I shared earlier that we offer fee reduction programs, and this is to ensure that the fee of the test is not a barrier to those in financial need. The benefits of this program include a 50% reduction on the price of the GRE General Test and the Subject Tests, and test takers who qualify also get the following priced test materials for free, and they include the POWERPREP Plus online practice test 1 and practice test 2, as well as the ScoreItNow! Online Writing Practice service. And what's awesome is that if you decide to take the test again, or retest, you can apply to receive another GRE fee reduction voucher.

Here are the eligibility requirements for the GRE fee reduction program: you must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien who is a college senior or unenrolled college graduate planning to test in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, or US Virgin Islands. What's important to note here, to qualify, a college senior must be receiving financial aid through an undergraduate college in these regions and be either a dependent with a FAFSA Student Aid Report, or SAR, that shows a parental contribution of no more than $2,500 for their senior year. And if you're self-reporting, your SAR should show contributions of no more than $3,000. Unenrolled college graduates must have applied for financial aid and have a SAR that shows a self-reporting status as well as contributions of no more than $3,000.

You can apply for a need-based GRE fee reduction voucher by completing the request form on our website at The form is to be mailed to ETS, along with a copy of your FAFSA Student Aid Report. Please take note of the information provided on this slide, as well as our website. For example, if you're a resident alien, a copy of your green card will be required with the information emailed in. Also, please review the instructions for the specific payment types and allow up to three weeks for processing and mail delivery.

The GRE Fee Reduction Program is also available to test takers who can verify their unemployment status and are planning to take the GRE test in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, or US Virgin Islands. To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien, 18 years of age or older, who is currently unemployed or have been unemployed within the last six months. Proof of your unemployment is required, so please carefully review these and other details on our website at

In addition, we provide GRE fee reduction vouchers each year to national programs that support underrepresented student groups. The entire list of the programs are available here and on our website. And if you participate in any of these programs, it would be a good idea to reach out to the program coordinators to request a GRE fee reduction voucher.

Let me share more information on the GRE Search Service. Now, the first thing to note is that this is indeed a free service. Once you create your ETS account, you'll have the opportunity to opt into this free service designed to connect you with graduate, business and law school programs, as well as other organizations. And they will share with you information related to admissions requirements, financial aid opportunities, scholarships and fellowships, as well as other graduate education information. Institutions will use your unique profile to customize the information that they share with you. You can learn more about this free service and even choose to participate today on our website at

Let's take a closer look at the official GRE test prep materials that are available. On the GRE website, we provide overviews of each General Test measure. That includes Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing sections. We provide detailed information about the question types on each measure, as well as sample questions with explanations, and much more. The POWERPREP test preview tool, which is available in your ETS account, is designed to get you familiar with the question types on the test, as well as the on-screen calculator and the word processing software used for the Analytical Writing section. On the other hand, the POWERPREP Online practice tests include two free practice tests that simulate the actual tests and include the same test taker-friendly design features you'll encounter on test day.

The GRE Math Review is a 100-page math refresher with practice problems, as well as answers and links to additional help through Khan Academy. And the GRE Math Convention contains mathematical notations, symbols, terminology, and guidelines for interpreting information on the GRE General Test. You can freely explore these materials at any time on our website.

As I shared earlier, we offer a free GRE Diagnostic Service. So, if you've taken the computer-delivered GRE General Test and would like more information about your test performance, you can access the service through your ETS account. The GRE Diagnostic Service is available free of charge to help you understand your performance on the Verbal Reasoning and the Quantitative Reasoning sections of the test. This service provides additional information on the types of questions you've answered correctly and incorrectly, and it shows the skill area, as well as the difficulty level and the time spent on each question, which you may even find helpful if you're preparing to retake the GRE General Test. Please note that you can access the service approximately 15 days after you take your computer-delivered GRE General Test and it will be available for six months following your test administration.

In this last section, we will briefly review the resources available to supplement the information that I've shared with you in this module. And here's a list of helpful resources available to assist you. We provide the GRE Information Bulletin, which contains all the details you'll need for test registration, test preparation, test day, and of course, for receiving your scores. The GRE Bulletin Supplement for Test Takers with Disabilities or Health-Related Needs provides an in-depth review of the information that I've shared with you, in regards to GRE testing accommodations.

There are At A Glance documents that provide high level information on the GRE General Test as well as the GRE Subject Tests. We also provide a list of institutions and fellowship sponsors approved for receiving GRE scores. In addition, on our website, we also provide lists of business schools and law schools accepting GRE scores for admissions. And if applicable, you may find the Returning to School Flyer helpful as it clearly communicates the value of an advanced degree. And the Guide to the Use of Scores can be helpful in providing information on interpreting your GRE scores.

I've shared a lot of information with you. So now it's time to begin your test-taker journey and dive more deeply into the information available on the official GRE website and engage with the tools and services designed just for you on the official website.