Overview of the GRE® General Test
Video duration: 37:04
MATTHEW BASHI-KADLUBOWSKI: Hello. My name is Matthew Bashi-Kadlubowski, and I'm with the GRE program at ETS. Welcome to this session, Overview of the GRE® General Test.
The goal of today's presentation is to put you on the path of doing your best on the GRE General Test. When we finish, you will know all about the test, including what it measures, how it is structured, tips for registering, and what to expect on test day, general tips and strategies, and how to get your scores and send them to the schools of your choice.
You will also learn how to prepare for the test using free GRE test preparation materials and more. 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.
So let's take a closer look at the GRE General Test.
The GRE General Test is accepted for graduate and business schools around the world. Also, an increasing number of law schools so you have more opportunities for your future. Whether you're interested in obtaining a master's, specialized master's in business, MBA, JD, or doctoral degree, the GRE is the first step on your path to success.
But maybe you're not quite sure of what you want to do, or maybe you're still considering your options, and that's OK. GRE scores are valid for five years, so you could take the test now, and your scores will be ready for when you're ready to make application.
If you're not aware, more than 1,300 business schools worldwide trust and accept GRE scores for their MBA programs, including top business schools. It is very important to know that most schools are following the Harvard Business School's lead in weighing GRE scores equally with other business school admissions tests. They note on their website that there is no minimum GMAT or GRE score for application, and they do not have a bias towards either test.
Are you considering law school? Many law schools are accepting or considering accepting GRE General Test scores. This saves you time and money from taking another admissions test. To view the complete list of schools that accept GRE scores for JD admission, please visit the GRE website.
In most regions of the world, the GRE General Test is administered on a continuous basis. The test is offered at more than 1,000 test centers in more than 160 countries around the world. The test is administered on a desktop computer with a full screen monitor, mouse, and keyboard. You can view test center locations and seat availability at ets.org/gre/testcenters.
You can also choose to take the GRE General Test from the safety of your home. It's offered everywhere that the test is normally available based on the country of your account address, except Iran. In November 2021, we began offering the at home test in Mainland China.
The content, format, and on-screen experience are identical to the test center experience, so you don't need to change how you prepare for the test. The test fee, payment options, score scales, and score reporting options are also the same.
Accommodations that are available include extended time, extra breaks, screen magnification, selectable colors, and more.
Your at-home test is monitored and recorded online through the use of human proctors and artificial intelligence technology through ProctorU.
This slide shows the system requirements you need to take the GRE General Test at home. Requirements include computer requirements, microphone and speaker requirements, and camera requirements.
Regarding computer requirements, you need a desktop or laptop; you cannot use a tablet, Chromebook™, or mobile device. You will need an approved operating system, which must be licensed. Unlicensed or test-mode versions are not permitted. The operating system can be Windows OS versions 10 or 8 or Mac OS versions 10.5 or higher (10.13 High Sierra is recommended). You will also need a Chrome or a Firefox browser. Note that multiple monitors or dual screens are not permitted.
Regarding microphone and speaker requirements, you will need an internal or external microphone and an internal or external speaker. You cannot use a headset or earphones.
Regarding camera requirements, you'll need a built-in camera in the computer or a separate webcam. Before the test starts, you'll have to show the proctor a 360-degree view of the room, including your tabletop surface.
You will need to perform a system check on your computer to determine whether it meets the requirements before scheduling your test. If a computer does not meet these requirements, you will be unable to test on test day. For the most up-to-date requirements, see ets.org/gre/athome.
The GRE test is comprised of three measures. Analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning. I'm going to start with analytical writing measure, because it is the first section that you will see on the test. This section assesses your critical thinking and analytical writing skills through two timed tasks. You you'll 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, and the software offers the basic functions of insert, delete, cut and paste, and undo. Note that the software program does not include grammar check or spell check.
So let's take a closer look at the verbal reasoning section. The verbal reasoning section assesses your ability to understand what you read and how you apply your reasoning skills. The question types that you encounter 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 more than one 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 the GRE does not award partial credit on the questions that require you to provide more than one answer. In order to get those questions right, all the answers-- correct answers-- must be selected.
So let's take a closer look at the quantitative reasoning section. The quantitative reasoning section assesses your ability to interpret and analyze quantitative information and solve problems using mathematical models. In the quantitative reasoning section, there are four question types. Quantitative comparison where you compare data, multiple choice questions where you select one answer choice, and multiple choice questions where you will select one or more answer choices.
There are also numeric entry questions where you will have to solve the problem for the correct answer and enter it in the appropriate field or fields. This measure focuses on basic mathematical skills of elementary mathematical concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis.
The on-screen calculator is available during the quantitative reasoning section, and can be brought up using the Calc button. It is important to know that the calculator is not needed in order to answer every question in the quantitative section. In fact, some questions may be answered faster through estimation or other methods.
Now I'm going to walk you through the structure and format of the test. As I mentioned, the first measure you will encounter is always analytical writing section. It is comprised of one section with two timed tasks. You will have 30 minutes to write an essay response for each of the two tasks for a total of 60 minutes.
Both of 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 approximately 35 minutes to complete each section.
You will 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 sections. If you should receive a research section, it will be clearly identified and will always be the last section of the test. Whether you receive an unscored section or a research section, your answers to these questions will not count towards your score.
In total, the GRE General Test is approximately three hours and 45 minutes in length plus timed breaks.
The GRE General Test features a test taker-friendly design, so you can approach the test using more of your own personal test taking strategies. You have the freedom to go back and forth within a timed section. You can reconsider and change answers. You can mark questions that you answer and come back to review them before exiting the section. You can skip questions you find extremely difficult and return to them before exiting the section.
Choose the Help button to give your directions for answering specific question types, section directions, or general directions.
When you select the Calc button, which is available in the quantitative reasoning section, the on-screen calculator will appear. You can use it to assist you with calculations, and the calculator will remain on the screen throughout the quantitative reasoning section. To make it disappear, just select the Calc button again.
The review screen is available throughout your test, and allows you to view the status of the test questions in the section you are in. The table in the review section contains each question number, whether you've answered the question, and whether you marked the question for review. Note that a status of incomplete means that you selected more or fewer responses than the question requires. It is important to go back to answer any question that says incomplete in order to be sure that you've selected the correct number of answers.
The verbal and quantitative reasoning sections of the test are section-level adaptive. So what does that mean to you as a test taker? Essentially, it means that the computer selects the second section of each measure based on your performance of the first section. A stronger performance on the first section means that 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 total number of questions you answer correctly, including the difficulty level of the question. Test takers often ask, is it better to guess or leave an answer blank? It is always best to answer a question, even if you're making a guess, since points are not deducted for wrong answers.
This slide illustrates how the section-level adaptive test works. The first section of each measure-- for example, verbal reasoning or quantitative reasoning-- contains a range of moderately challenging content. Your performance on the first section of each measure determines which second section you will receive. If you perform moderately well on the first section of a measure, you will receive a moderately challenging second section. If you perform less well on the first section of a measure, you will get a less challenging second section. And if you perform really well on the first section of a measure, you will get a more challenging second section. The graph shows that those who perform well on more challenging content obtain higher scaled scores than those who perform well on less challenging content.
The scores for the analytical writing measure are reported on a 0 to 6 score scale in half-point increments, whereas scores for the verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning measures are reported on a 130 to 170 score scale in one-point increments.
So now let's review some tips about registering for the GRE General Test.
So you're probably asking yourselves, how do I get started? Well, it's really simple. Just register for the test. If you register early, you're more likely to get your preferred testing location, date, and time. And you can also create a test preparation plan that will allow you to focus on your end goal, which is taking the exam.
To register, go to ets.org/mygre and create your personal ETS account. It is this account that you will use whenever you want to access information on your test date or view and send your scores after test day. There are also short videos on how to create your ETS account and how to register for the GRE test at ets.org/gre/register.
It's also important to review the GRE registration bulletin as you are aware of the ID requirements, policies, and procedures on test day. And you should also think about where you want to send your scores, so you should definitely check the admissions deadlines and the respective admission websites for specific information related to application.
Before you create your ETS account, you should review the identification documents in the GRE information bulletin or on the GRE website. Also, when you create your ETS account, make sure you have your identification documents ready.
Entering your name correctly is probably the single most important step in the registration process. It is also one of the most frequently asked questions about registration. I cannot stress enough that your name that you use when registering must match your ID documents exactly, excluding accents. Ensure the spellings match exactly, and be sure to provide your entire first or given name, which means do not use a nickname or a first initial.
You also must supply your entire last name, family name, or surname. For those of you that have a two-part last name like myself, you need to be sure to supply your complete last name, again, as it appears on your identification documents, again, excluding accents.
So let's look at an example. In this example, the test taker's name is Jose Fernandez de Córdova. The red star next to the fields that you see means that they are required fields and must be completed. As you can see, the first or given name is a requirement in addition to the last or family name. The middle initial is not a required field. In the example, the name Fernandez de Córdova includes an accent. However, when Jose enters it into the last or family name, he does not include the accent, as our system does not recognize that.
So here is the complete first screen that you will see when you're creating your ETS test taker account page at ets.org/mygre. After entering your name exactly as it is on your identification documentation, excluding accents, you will enter your date of birth, gender, and email address, followed by your country, address, city, and postal code. All 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 program to be sure they're reviewing the correct candidate information.
Once you finalize your ETS account setup, it's time to register. Remember, when you select a test day, be sure to base it on your earliest admission deadline as those schools to which you are applying. And when you are registering, you can sign up for the free GRE search service as well. And we'll talk about that in more detail later in this presentation.
Now let's talk for a minute about the registration process for the at-home test. You will still register for the test in your ETS account. On the Find Test Centers and Dates page, select Test at Home. You will need to verify your email address, confirm your time zone, and choose a test date and time. You'll be asked to confirm your appointment details, and then you will continue your registration and pay for the test.
Once you have registered for the at-home test, you will receive a confirmation email. Be sure to keep the email safe, because it contains the link to your session on test day.
Now I want to discuss what to expect on test day if you're taking the GRE General Test at home.
You must have the following. Acceptable and valid ID with your name, signature and photograph, a mirror or mobile phone to show the proctor your screen during check-in, and note taking materials which can be either a whiteboard with an erasable marker or a blank piece of paper inside a transparent sheet protector and an erasable marker.
Before the start of the test, run a final systems check and fix any issues before you check in for your test. All issues must be resolved before your appointment time.
Close all browsers and applications not needed for the test to prevent bandwidth issues during the test. Make sure there are no other devices that use the internet running in your home.
When it's time for your test, log in using the Start Your Test link in your confirmation email or at-home check-in link in your ETS account. Note that if you are more than 12 minutes late, your test will be canceled.
The proctor will ask you to show your ID, show your computer screen using a small mirror or your mobile phone, and show a 360-degree view of your room using your computer camera.
Your entire session will be recorded and monitored by a human proctor, and your photo will be taken.
During the test, make sure that you can be seen on camera by the proctor. Avoid doing anything suspicious like talking out loud or looking away from the screen.
There was an optional 10-minute break after the third section and one-minute breaks between the remaining sections. Break times cannot be exceeded. You are allowed to leave your seat for the 10-minute break, but you must remain in your seat for the one-minute breaks. Unscheduled breaks are not permitted.
Artificial intelligence technology will verify your ID throughout the test and when you return after your break.
If you need to contact the proctor, speak to get their attention or use the LogMeIn chat. It may take 30 to 60 seconds for the proctor to reply. If the proctor is attempting to chat with you, the blue owl will bounce up and down.
Before the end of the test, you will need to erase any notes in view of the proctor.
If you experience any technical issues during the test, speak with the proctor or contact ProctorU.
Now let's discuss what to expect on test day if you're taking the GRE General Test at a test center.
On test day, be sure to get to the test center early and make sure that you have your official identification documents with you. Remember, these are the documents you used when registering for the test. It is vitally important that you have these documents with you on test day, or you will not be permitted to enter the test taking facility.
Once you arrive at the test center, be sure to follow the test center policies and procedures. You should review them either on the GRE website or in the GRE information bulletin prior to test day. The information there will explain to you what you need to bring with you, what you are allowed to bring in the test center, and how to conduct yourself once inside the test center. After all, being prepared will help you have the best possible test day experience, and that will help you do the best on the test.
In addition to having your valid identification documentation with you, you should also have the names of the schools where you would like to send your scores.
Please note that food, drinks, tobacco, e-cigarettes, personal items including cell phones, smartphones, PDAs, watches, and other electronic, recording, listening, scanning, or photographic devices are not permitted in the test room. In addition, note that you may not access your phone during the test or during the breaks to check messages, make a call, or check the time, or for any other reason.
Before the start of the test, your photo will be taken and a sample of your handwriting will be collected. You will be scanned with a hand-held metal detector to ensure that you are not carrying any electronic devices. You will then receive a writing utensil and a supply of scrap paper. You'll be able to replenish the scrap paper throughout the test as needed, but please note that you will not be allowed to take it from the test center for security purposes. Also, please note that the testing room will have proctors and electronic surveillance.
You will use a standard English language QWERTY computer keyboard during your test. If you have any problems with your computer or you need the administrator, raise your hand. The testing room is subject to video recording.
There is an optional 10-minute break after the third section and one-minute breaks between the remaining sections. You are required to remain in the building during breaks. If you need to leave your seat for any other time, raise your hand. The timing of the section will not stop.
I have some important test taking tips and strategies to share with you to help you do your best on test day.
I have some important test saving tips to share with you that should keep building your confidence, so let's start with some basic general strategies. It's important to become familiar with question formats and directions before test day so that you don't have to spend additional time during your test doing so.
Also, be cognizant of your time, but don't 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. However, if you prefer, you could hide that clock. However, during the last five minutes of the section, the clock will appear to let you know that you need to start wrapping things up.
Make sure you understand what each question is asking before you answer. Remember that you do not get credit for answers that are partially correct. As I mentioned earlier, there are no points subtracted for incorrect answers, so the best strategy is to answer all questions in the section, even if you have to make an educated guess. This will help you achieve your best score. Also, use your knowledge to work through and figure out answers to unfamiliar questions.
Make sure you do not waste time on questions that you find particularly difficult or challenging. No question carries any greater weight, so it's always best to provide an answer to every question. Throughout the test, watch your pace, and try not to spend too much time on the Review screen, as this can detract from the time that you can spend on other questions. Instead, use it as a way to check your progress and ensure that you answer each of the questions in the section before moving on to the next.
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.
So after the last section of the test, you're going to be asked if you want to cancel your scores permanently, which we do not recommend. We recommend that you review and report your unofficial scores, and at that time you will see your unofficial verbal and your unofficial quantitative reasoning measures. At that time, you can decide if you want to send your four free school reports at the test center.
Or you can also choose not to send these scores at this particular time. You always have the option to decide later. We will talk about score select in more detail in a few minutes, but always remember that your GRE scores are valid for five years from date of administration.
If you do choose to report your scores, you're going to see a screen that looks exactly like this.
After you review your scores, you can decide whether or not you want to report them to up to four score recipients as part of your test fee. You can also decide not to send any score reports at this time. If you choose not to send any score reports at this time, you can send score reports later for a fee.
As I mentioned earlier, we do offer ScoreSelect, which helps you put your best foot forward. Whether you take the test once or again at any time in five years, you can send only the scores that you want institutions to see. And this option is only available with the GRE General Test.
So on test day when viewing your scores at the test center, you can designate schools to receive either your most recent scores or scores from all tests that you have taken in the last five years. Both of these options are available for 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. Just sign into your ETS account and send additional score reports to the schools that you designate for a fee. When you send your scores after test day and you have the most recent and all options as you had on test day, you will also be able to use the Any option and select to send scores from any of the GRE tests that 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 a verbal score from one test administration and a quantitative score from another. Note that some schools want to see an applicant's scores from all GRE tests they have taken. We advise you to check with the schools to which you are applying for their particular admission requirements.
If you decide to send your scores on test day, this screen will appear. To add a score recipient, select the blue box Add a Score Recipient.
Next, select the country of the score recipient from the dropdown list. If the score recipient is in the United States, select the state from the dropdown list. A list of institutions will be displayed. Select the desired institution from the list.
Next, select the department name and the ScoreSelect option, most recent scores or all scores.
So about 10 to 15 days after your test, you're going to be able to view your official scores online through your ETS account. Your account will include all scores in your reportable history, and that is the past five years. When viewing your scores online, you'll be able to print a copy of your score report for your personal records as well.
If you decide not to send scores to any schools on test day, or if you want to send scores to another school, you can do so at any time, again, through your ETS account. Just select the Order Additional Score Reports feature from the main menu, and you'll 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 a complete reportable history. If needed, we also have a short video on the GRE website on how to send additional score reports. And that can be accessed at ets.org/gre/asr.
And as you know, with ScoreSelect, you never need to send scores from a particular administration that you feel do not reflect your best ability level. You always have the option to test again. With GRE General Test, it's once every 21 days up to five times with any continuous rolling 12-month period.
If you would like more information on your performance on the test that you just took, you can access the free GRE Diagnostic Service, again from your ETS account. This diagnostic service gives you information about how well you did on the verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning questions on the test you took.
You can see a summary of the questions you answered right and wrong and the difficulty level of each question, and the time that you spent on each question. This information is especially helpful if you're planning to take the GRE General Test again. You can access this service about 15 days after your computer-delivered test and for up to six months following the test administration date.
This sample Verbal Reasoning section in the GRE Diagnostic Service shows the questions in each 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. So the table represents 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, so let's take a closer look.
GRE test prep information is available on the GRE website. You can view section overviews for each measure that include general advice, sample questions with explanations, scoring guidelines, and tips for answering questions to become familiar with each of these test sections.
The POWERPREP Test Preview Tool contains information to help you familiarize yourselves with test question types, test features, and help tools that are available during the actual GRE General Test. This can be found in your ETS account, again, under the My Test Preparation and Services link.
I also encourage you to access POWERPREP online. This online practice test can be accessed in your ETS account. The two valuable free POWERPREP 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're going to get. There is also a downloadable test prep booklet for those of you that may need to take the paper-delivered GRE General Test for those that live in regions where the paper-delivered test format is administered.
The GRE program is also going to provide you with more free tools to help prepare for the GRE General Test, and that includes GRE Math Review and GRE Math Conventions. GRE Math Review is a 100-page refresher, which includes definitions, properties, examples, and sets of exercises with answers at the end of each section. It also includes links to the Khan Academy, which is very popular with GRE test takers.
GRE Math Conventions, on the other hand, includes mathematical notations, symbols, terminology, and guidelines that are included for interpreting information in the GRE General Test.
As you're probably aware, ETS has always been the leader in providing test taker accommodations. With that said, we have provided the POWERPREP online, which provides the following accommodations: extended time, extra breaks, screen magnification, selectable colors, and screen reader and refreshable Braille compatibility. We also have practice materials in Braille, recorded audio, tactile figure supplements, large print, and accessible electronic format.
For more information about any of these resources, please visit ets.org/gre/prepare.
Additional materials are available for a fee to those who would like more practice. The materials include three POWERPREP PLUS online practice tests, three GRE practice books with hundreds of test questions, and ScoreItNow online writing practice to prepare for the Analytical Writing measure.
Now let's take a closer look at additional GRE resources.
Additional GRE resources that could be found on the ETS website are the GRE Information Bulletin, the GRE Bulletin Supplement for Test Takers with Disabilities or Health-related Needs, institutions and fellowship sponsors approved to receive GRE scores, business schools that accept GRE scores for MBA programs, and last, law schools that accept GRE for JD programs.
The official GRE website at ets.org/gre is a great resource for in-depth information about GRE tests and services, policy information, test dates, locations, and more.
If you want to hear what other test takers are saying, feel free to join the conversation on the official GRE Test pages on Facebook®, Instagram®, and LinkedIn®, or watch GRE videos on YouTube®. Feel free to also check us out on Sina Weibo®, WeChat®, and Zhihu®.
And on behalf of the GRE program at ETS, I'd like to offer you the best of luck in all your future educational endeavors. Thank you so much, and have a great day.