Introduction to GRE

Introduction to GRE : Rushil and Akshaaj are two brothers.  Rushil completed his Masters and is working in the US. Akshaaj likes to emulate his elder brother in everything he does. Whether it is aspiring to be as tall as he is or doing engineering from the same prestigious college. One day Rushil asked Akshaaj what he would do after completing He spontaneously replied “I will write GRE.” Then the elder brother asked, “Why do you want to write GRE?” For that, Akshaj smiled and replied “To go to the US”. Then, Rushil said, “Why do you need GRE to go to the US, you can go on a tourist visa or on a job”.  The pampered Akshaaj never experienced such intense questions from his elder brother. He was confused and he walked away from the room. It was easy for Akshaj to escape further questioning from his brother but the question “What next?”  bothered him.

“What next after completing undergrad education?” Have you ever asked an undergraduate student this question? If you did, the most common answers can be categorized into two: Job  or Higher studies. Regarding higher studies, if you probe deeply, the most frequent answer you would get from them is “I will write GRE.”   GRE – Graduate Record Examination is conducted by ETS. It is an exam required by majority of the Universities in the US for admissions in Masters and Post Graduate programs.

But how many of these GRE aspirants are clear about who takes GRE?   Firstly, one needs to have the clarity on pursuing higher studies or going for a job. On a long run, higher education is definitely good. But is it immediately after completing undergraduate degree varies from one student to other, one career option to other. Then, if the preference is higher studies the next question is:  in India or abroad; higher studies in technical programs or MBA. The decision has to be taken after thinking through in detail. You cannot base your decision on one exam being easier than the other. It has to be based on how you would want to shape your career, as this involves lot of priceless time and valuable money. Students who are interested in continuing on the technical side, interested in core jobs can pursue further education in core subjects; if you are interested in management related career options pursue MBA. Students who are interested in pursuing higher studies in the US, in technical areas or MBA programs take the GRE test. Students from diverse backgrounds like Engineering, Pharmacy, Medical etc., take it. A Master’s program or a Phd in the US gives you global exposure and an opportunity to learn advanced technologies.

Why is GRE required?  University admissions and fellowship panels use GRE test scores. This exam is taken by students from across the world. Between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013 there were more than 5 lakh test takers. So, GRE is like a common evaluation platform for all these students.  These scores provide common measures for comparing the qualifications of students who apply to the US Universities from around the world and help in the evaluation of undergrad grades and recommendations.

What is the exam pattern of this common platform? GRE predominantly tests a student on his verbal and quantitative ability. The question types on which students are tested in GRE reflect the kind of thought process students require in graduate school.

The test has three areas:

Verbal Reasoning-It tests a student’s ability to read written content, understand and analyze it.  It tests the student’s familiarity with words. The written material can be in passages, paragraphs or few sentences.

Quantitative Reasoning-It tests a student’s knowledge on basic concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis.

Analytical Writing- It tests a student’s critical thinking and writing abilities; and also evaluates, how effectively and clearly a student is able to put forth his point.



Analytical Writing
(One section with two separately timed tasks)

One “Analyze an Issue” task and one “Analyze an Argument” task30 minutes per task0-6

Verbal Reasoning
(Two sections)

20 questions per section30 minutes per section


Quantitative Reasoning
(Two sections)
20 questions per section35 minutes per section





An unidentified unscored section may come any time after the analytical writing assessment section. But, the identified research section comes at the end.

The test has following features that students can use: You can move to the next question with or without answering the current questions. You can come back to unanswered questions later. You can mark questions for reviews. You can edit your answers. Of course, you can use all these features within a given section. Also, the quantitative section has an on-screen calculator.

The overall testing time for the computer-based GRE® revised General Test is about three hours and 45 minutes. There are six sections with a 10-minute break following the third section. Sitting continuously before a computer, in an exam atmosphere might make some students restless, but you need to practice that aspect also through the online practice mock exams that you take during your preparation.

As you are aware, GRE test is written by students from different subject backgrounds. Studying in Telugu medium schools or not having a mathematics back ground after high school should not become inhibitions that prevent you to score well. I do know many telugu medium students who got great scores. All it needs is persistent efforts.

GRE General test is a Computer based exam. It also has a paper based version which is conducted in some countries. In our country students take the Computer based test.  For the test you need to book your slot in advance. Sometimes, this could be few months in advance. You must register online at In India we have test centers in Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, New Delhi, Trivandrum, Allahabad, Ahmedabad. Students can take the test once every 21 days, up to five times within any continuous rolling 12-month period. However, majority of the students do well in their first attempt or max another attempt.

The General test fee is around $ 185. Once, you book your test, in case of cancellation, you must cancel no later than four days before your test date or your test fee will be forfeited. In case of rescheduling a test date, you may incur a cost of $ 50.

GRE scores are valid for five years. So, you can take the test while pursuing your undergrad degree. For any authentic information about the test or to book your slot, you can refer to (

Hope you have some clarity on “Why” and “What” GRE is. In the next article we will learn about the Scores and how to improve scores, how to plan for the tests.


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